Our Place, a company delivering high-end kitchen and dinnerware directly to consumers, believes it has found the perfect balance between business opportunity and social good.
The Los Angeles-based company aims to support local artisans in emerging markets—areas like Oaxaca, Mexico—to produce products at scale without losing their hand-crafted essence.
They will then sell these pans, plates and glasses to socially conscious consumers around the world, using the opportunity to educating purchasers about the cultural contexts behind the products.
Co-founders and husband-and-wife team Amir Tehrani and Shiza Shahid have a good grounding in making this work: Shahid co-founded the Malala Fund, to support educational projects for young women around the world, alongside impact seed investment fund Now Ventures. Tehrani, for his part, has extensive knowledge of the cookware business after years working with TableTops Unlimited, a company set up by his grandfather and one of the leading suppliers of kitchen products in the US.
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Commercial activity will also be supported by Zach Rosner, a third co-founder who helped build the e-commerce teams at MeUndies and Everlane.
Our Place has already attracted lots of attention from investors. Will Smith’s investment arm, Dreamers VC, has joined retail startup FabFitFun and others in backing the company to the tune of $2.35 million.
Tehrani tells TechCrunch that the challenge is to help artisans produce at scale without compromising the products—which include the “always pan,” designed for “rising rents and shrinking cabinet space.”
He adds that cookware as a market, predicted to be worth $12.7 billion by 2021, is somewhat underexplored—and his own experience through TableTops was a particular draw for investors.
“They understand our capabilities around the family business and they want to help bring it to their community as well,” Tehrani tells the site. “Aside from what they were already doing around fashion and cosmetics the largest opportunity they weren’t already doing was around cookware.”
Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber