If You Dream It, They Can Craft It; Cambridge-based CustomMade Pairs Up Creative Ideas With Capable Craftspeople

Posted by erik devaney

Looking to “wow!” your fiancée with a one-of-a-kind engagement ring? Are you in the market for a table that can fit snugly into that awkward corner in your living room? Or do you just want the satisfaction of having a unique-little-something that no one else in the world has? Whatever custom creation you have in mind, there’s a Cambridge, MA-based company that might be able to help.

While originally launched in 1996, Mike Salguero (CEO) and Seth Rosen (CFO) took over CustomMade in 2009 and revamped the website’s user interface. As a result of their intervention, the pair lifted the company out of a dusty workshop cabinet and brought it to the forefront of the arts-and-crafts e-commerce movement.

CustomMade is an online marketplace that connects consumers looking for customized items with makers who can create those items. Some of the most popular items that are commissioned through the company include engagement rings, cabinets, dining room tables and bookshelves. “We see people who are choosing custom because they have a need – like a strange dining room layout, or because they value locally made and handcrafted items,” Salguero told New England Post.

Unlike Etsy, another online arts-and-crafts marketplace, CustomMade deals only with professional artists and artisans. “Etsy is mostly for amateur crafters,” Salguero said. “There is a big distinction.”

The CustomMade team looks over the work of crafters before allowing them to create items for the CustomMade marketplace. “We don’t do a jurying process though,” Salguero stated. “We believe in an open marketplace, but a safe marketplace.”

One of the makers who CustomMade reached out to is Reading-based jeweler, Melanie Rawding, of Scarlett Jewelry. Rawding trained in jewelry and metals at Mass College of Art and is best-known for her wire wrapped jewelry that features custom cut gemstones.

Green Amethyst and Tanzanite Bitty Earrings by Scarlett Jewelry

While Rawding has yet to receive direct, custom orders through CustomMade, she concedes that this is only because she hasn’t put a lot of work into her CustomMade profile. In the meantime, she can submit her ideas for general requests made through the marketplace. “Somebody will say, ‘I want a pair of blue topaz earrings, send me your ideas.’ We can then submit ideas and the consumer will pick which one they want,” Rawding told New England Post.

One of the aspects that Rawding likes most about CustomMade is that the employees treat the crafters with respect. “The reason why I signed up, as an artist, was because they were very personable and user-friendly,” Rawding said. “I believe that in the future it [CustomMade] will become a very successful part of my business.”

CustomMade recently brought in $2 million in financing. According to Salguero, those funds will go towards product development and hiring. “We are looking for more developers and interaction designers,” Salguero told New England Post. “We want to redefine how people shop for custom!”

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Posted by erik devaney on Sep 29 2011. Filed under Business, Featured - For home page featured article. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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