It appears that you're using a severely outdated version of Safari on Windows. Many features won't work correctly, and functionality can't be guaranteed. Please try viewing this website in Edge, Mozilla, Chrome, or another modern browser. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused!Read More about this safari issue.
Bernie Baskin and his wife, Yvonne Quek, are trying to change that. As Arkansans working in Singapore, they noticed that it was difficult to find unique gifts on their visits home to take back to Singapore for friends. Baskin explains, “There were a few things here and there, but there was nowhere to go to get a wide selection of Arkansas-made products.”
So, just as a lot of other Arkansans have done when they saw a need, they decided to do something about it.
After six years overseas, Baskin and Quek moved back to Arkansas in 2014, and got to work creating a business that offers a selection of Arkansas-made products that can be purchased anywhere in the world. Their business, MAAYDE, is based online as a curated website that provides an online retail space for makers around the state.
Baskin says the response from makers has been very positive. “Many makers in Arkansas want to focus on making their products rather than on setting up an e-commerce site. We handle all the marketing and the website stuff.” Baskin and Quek also write all the content and take all the photos – not small tasks in themselves.
Initially, the Baskins created a list of approximately 100 makers from around the state that was compiled from internet searches, listings from the Arkansas Arts Council and Arkansas Craft Guild, and word of mouth. Currently, they have a backlog of about 250 artists and makers who are interested in being part of the project, and more contacting them every day. After an article was published recently about the couple in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Baskin says they received “dozens” of emails from artists in the span of a couple of days.
“As we have built our list, we realized that entire groups are unknown in Arkansas.” said Baskin. “We found people who have been running very small companies for years but only share their products at a local farmers’ market or other local outlets.”
According to Baskin, there are three goals associated with MAAYDE:
Discovery: They are passionate about finding Arkansas makers who are doing amazing things but reaching only a small audience in their local region or hometown. The blog on the MAAYDE website features these makers in their homes and studios, and introduces them to a wider audience.
Preservation: Arkansas has, for generations, been full of artisans creating functional, beautiful items for home use – but our society has moved away from appreciating the perfection that is, for example, a handmade mixing bowl. Many of the “old-timers” are dying, and their knowledge about their crafts is dying with them.
Showcase: Once the makers are found, the website is a retail hub that offers their products for sale to anyone with an internet connection.
Baskin and Quek are the co-founders of MAAYDE, and are currently the only employees, but they believe the makers feel they are also part of the MAAYDE “family”. “At the end of the day,” says Baskin, “it will be clear that we are not a generic corporate brand capitalizing on their handmade products. We want them to do well – if they do well, we will do well.”
There’s more to come! Look for upcoming posts featuring Arkansas makers who are part of this new venture!
Sign up for our weekly e-news.
Get stories sent straight to your inbox!