ROBIC APPLAUDS THE GENEROSITY AND INGENUITY OF ITS CLIENTS. HERE IS THE INSPIRING STORY OF SOUK!
The SOUK, an unparalleled marketplace of ideas for design enthusiasts in Montréal, helps support local artists and designers through its expanded database which allows local buyers and loyal customers to access and connect with their favorite designers in this time of social distancing.
Given the pandemic’s onset, the very small SOUK team wondered how Montréal’s designers were going to survive through it. Soon, Azamit, the founder of the beloved platform of design enthusiasts, decided that the SOUK needed to extend accessibility of the designers and artisans’ database to its clientele.
Usually, the annual event organized by Azamit and her team is reserved for the showcasing of about 100 jury selected designers to exhibit their creations. In the current context, the founder decided to give every designer the opportunity to be displayed in the directory.
” This time, we opened it up to everyone. It’s our way of
supporting SMEs in the design industry and making sure they stay alive. To date, we have about 400 to 500 designers and design artists on the site, ” says Azamit in a satisfied tone.
Design enthusiasts can find a list of designers with a variety of unique and exclusive objects on the soukmtl.com website. There are products as diverse as fashion clothing, food, furniture, jewelry, children’s toys, etc. Thanks to this virtual presence, customers can get in direct contact with the artists.
” It proved to be a difficul task because we are a very small team. We worked very hard so that within a few days, the programming, press releases, visuals, database and calls for projects were completed. We had to act quickly! ” explains Azamit.
She says that at the beginning, there was a big buzz around SOUK because there was no such database to support Montréal designers. Through its distribution of newsletters and sharing on social networks, the media picked up on this news and the design community was called upon. The initiative can be described as a success, especially since it was put forward by four dedicated people working full-time and this, long before the actual craze for local purchasing and the local economic stimulus encouraged by all levels of government.
SoukMTL is an evolving repertoire and the list of artists and designers continues to grow. Now, many designers have the chance to be seen and discovered by design enthusiasts, which was not necessarily the case before COVID-19. Azamit has also received many thanks and testimonials of appreciation following this initiative since it allowed some of the designers to keep their business going amongst the pandemic.
Under normal circumstances…
SOUK organizes an event every fall since 2003. Inspired by her experience working with designers unknown to the general public, but well recognized in their respective fields,the founder of SOUK wanted to showcase local talent. One thing leading to another, the NPO has organized annual events and expanded its scope of products and designers. ” The project was born out of a need expressed by our designers and the public seeking access to their services and products, ” says Azamit.
For the past 18 years, the five-day event received 16,000 visitors per year. It is a design fair where you can see the best of what is being done in Québec. Each year, a jury composed of five new members is appointed to select the exhibitors. These jury members are art directors, fashion journalists, architects, farmers, restaurateurs and others. The selection process is rigorous and the evaluation criteria are very strict to participate in the exhibit, but it is creativity, originality and quality that make a real diference, not the exhibitors’ sales figues.
Architects, designers and the media come to see the next generation of designers as well as the established ones who want to present and unveil their creative projects outside of regular mandates. The SOUK’s clientele has grown over the years and design enthusiasts are eager to make unique acquisitions. The SOUK’s DNA lies in the curation and selection of everything that is done locally, and the annual event is proof of this.
As for the future, Azamit believes in managing expectations. For now, the database remains open to all designers until further notice. In addition, she adds: “ We will have to keep renewing ourselves. We’ve always been pioneers in the way we share information and showcase local design. We need to remain an inspiration and be at the forefront, hoping that we continue to be innovative and that the community is more open to what is being done locally. ”
The main lesson for Azamit and her team? Be ready to adapt and react very quickly, be in touch with the designers, listen to your community and do what is necessary to meet its needs.
ROBIC WOULD LIKE TO HIGHLIGHT THE CONTRIBUTION OF SOUK IN THE PROMOTION OF OUR MONTRÉAL CREATIONS AND WISHES LONG LIFE TO ALL THE LOCAL DESIGNERS AND ARTISTS WHOSE TALENT DESERVES TO BE PROPELLED!
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