Peter Cornish showcases one of the coolest ways to get your hands on a slew of different Vietnamese handmade goods at SoNice. Photo by Vinh Dao.
The marketplace for designers and makers – creating value for the local community
SoNice started with a search for cool stuff. The sort of stuff you find in little shops down dingy hems. Original and unique. Hand-made one-offs. The sort of stuff that maybe you’re not looking for, but once you see you just have to have. Because it’s so nice.
Founded by Venessa Santamaria and Raphael Wilhelm, SoNice makes it easier for you to find these cool things. Or rather it makes it easier for the producers of these beautiful, unique products to find you. Either way, it’s a win win opportunity.
SoNice is an online market place that connects Vietnamese producers, designers, and retailers of distinctly unique products to the rest of the world.
The company sources local brands with unique stories who lack the resources to take their small-scale production to a wider market, and provide them with an opportunity for growth.
“We meet each brand owner personally, making sure product quality meets requirements and deciding what goes on the platform.” Raphael explained. They then take professional photos of the products and write appealing product descriptions before uploading to their website and starting the marketing process.
When orders come in, they are processed quickly and efficiently with SoNice handling the logistics of payment and delivery and managing the relationship between customer and brand. With marketing, sales and distribution taken care of, brands are able to concentrate on producing products that are high quality and innovative.
They are selective about who take on, looking carefully for the right brands, producing the right products and made by the right people.
To date there are 90 brands listed in the online marketplace, offering in the region of 1000 unique and original products, many of which fall into the category of home décor. 90% of the brands represented are Vietnamese, with the foreign owned brands producing their products in Vietnam.
65% of the brands are produced by women. These are small-scale entrepreneurs with a different vibe than big businesses.
“We believe that what people strive for is independence – it makes them proud and happy to have their own business, do what they want, hire who they want. This is especially true for women who tend to do more and make less. We give them a platform to sell what they produce, and help them provide income for their families.” Vanessa explained.
From the consumer side, SoNice offers a one-stop shop for finding locally produced products without having to trail around shops, or down dingy hems, to find individual products in out-of-the way boutiques.
“Our ordering process is straightforward, via our web shop, app, Facebook, Instagram or chat. You can order assorted products from varied brands and have them delivered to your door within days, COD.” Raphael told me.
AsiaLIFE met with three of SoNice’s brands to find out what makes them so nice.
Lagom: Leather Bags
Lagom is a fashion brand that specialises in high-quality leather accessories. Their style is minimalist, combining simplicity and practicality to create designs that are durable and stand the test of time. The distinct materials used in their products, and the meticulous attention to detail of their artisan craftspeople, offer products that are described as ‘luxurious and precious.’
Established in Sweden in 2012, Lagom uses genuine leather carefully selected from world-renowned supplies to ensure the aesthetics and applicability of each product. Their best sellers in Vietnam are the Bifold Classic and Unisex-Coat Wallet, each containing inside and outside compartments that enhance their elegance.
Their decision to work with SoNice rests on a shared philosophy of a stronger community, united by a mission to bring unique products, handcrafted by creative artisans in Vietnam to a wider audience.
Nha Kho Decor: Canvas prints
Nha Kho Décor is a new brand, launched just one year ago. The concept came through recognition of the growing home decoration market, and the increasing desire to make ‘an ordinary house look extraordinary’. The brand offers a wide range of home decoration products, such as canvas prints, wire mesh displays, and LED lighting in varied sizes and customised shapes.
As the business upscaled, they welcomed the opportunity that SoNice offered to expand their market opportunity and reach a larger audience.
Keen to be part of the growing community SoNice is creating, they were happy to have their growing portfolio of products listed on the site.
They are especially motivated by the visual direction in minimalism that SoNice pursues, and that it targets a young clientele who put more importance on home décor than previous generations.
Fanfix Vietnam: Industrial Lamps
Fanfix takes its name from an amalgamation of the words ‘fan’ and ‘fix’. In this context, ‘fan’ refers to the enthusiastic following of artistic expression, such as music, film or visual arts, and the communities that groups of ‘fans’ build by sharing a common enthusiasm. ‘Fix’ is drawn from the repairing, recycling or reusing of items that might otherwise be discarded.
Combined, these two words describe the recycled and redesigned products of Fanfix’s unique industrial lamps, made from up-cycled iron tubing.
Offered in a variety of shapes and styles, the lamps are unique and original in design, making a terrific addition to any home.
The partnership between SoNice and Fanfix came about through a chance meeting of the co-founders and realisation of a shared vision. Working together with young, creative artisans and handcrafters to build a supportive, like minded community that nurtures ambition for unique and modern handicrafts from Vietnam.