Belinda Hall is founder of Home of Artisans, an online community marketplace that supports and promotes local artists of craft from around the world
Tell us about your transition from ad exec to curator.
I’d worked in advertising since university, for 14 years, but I’ve always been entrepreneurial and I come from a family of business owners – my dad has a commercial furniture business, my grandfather made Chesterfields and my sister is an interior designer. I like the advertising industry but I always wanted my own business.
I came to the UK in 2004 and while I was travelling for work, I came up with a concept where I reinvented the granny shopping trolley and created a posh version and associated accessories. It was from this business experience and my personal travels where I met a lot of makers. I was also forever collecting ceramics and artwork. I started to think about what I wanted to do that linked to something I was passionate about, while also using the skills I had developed in my career. I realised there was an idea there, where I could help all of these small makers who I would never have found if I hadn’t travelled to those places.
What inspired you to launch Home of Artisans?
Companies like Etsy, Uber and Airbnb changed the game and I realised that you don’t need a physical gallery to be a curator and art seller. My passion is supporting craftsmanship and so I decided to create Home of Artisans, an online marketplace that sells one-off or limited edition pieces for the home.
At the moment we represent artists and craftsmen from eight countries. We work with small studios and provide a platform to showcase and market their work. My vision is that in five years’ time we will have more than 1,000 artists from around the world making fantastic art and crafts accessible to a wide audience.
What makes a fantastic collectible?
We are very much curators representing artists and craftsmen who are specialists in what they do, whether they are ceramists, sculptors, artists, tapestry makers. Each item is unique and crafted by hand, and Home of Artisans enables buyers to support and uphold the traditional work of craftsmen whose skills have been passed down through generations or learnt at specialist art colleges.
What’s the most remarkable piece you’ve ever bought, and why?
All the pieces that I’ve collected have their own story, but on a recent trip to South Africa I bought a JuJu hat, that is made on a wooden structure tightly woven with brightly coloured feathers on the top which is traditionally worn by royalty, chiefs or dignitaries in tribal communities. When you open up this hat to its fullest, you see that It’s an amazing piece that can be a wonderful and unique wall feature. It inspires me whenever I look at it.