Ever read a blog and feel like you just HAD to meet the blogger? That’s how Jen Lee Koss felt reading Kena Paranjape’s blog In Life and Fashion. Both located in Toronto, Jen reached out and over coffee, “an instant connection” was made. Before they had a concrete idea, the two decided to team up and follow their shared passions. What resulted was BRIKA, an online shopping experience celebrating modern craft.

We here at Rue are excited to partner with BRIKA for a Pop-Up Shop because we love their mission of finding, profiling, and supporting artisans and makers. I am especially excited to share this interview and the work of a select group of BRIKA artisans because I count myself lucky to be one of them. We hope you enjoy a few words of wisdom from two women who are crafting their own ideal lives and then pop over to our Pop-Up Shop and sign up to a BRIKA member. But hurry! Our Pop-Up Shop ends April 22!

There are many member-only websites these days, but BRIKA really has a unique point of view. What do you feel sets you apart?
The BRIKA aesthetic is based on modern craft. The products we select to feature and sell on our site are often created using century old techniques interpreted in modern ways. We love that there is tradition and culture and stories woven into the products, but they are so modern and beautiful that they easily fit into our contemporary lives. We feel we are differentiated than many other e-commerce offerings because we are tightly curated. Additionally, we produce an incredible amount of original content and are building a real brand that speaks to both our Makers and core customers in a very particular way! Ultimately, we believe so strongly in what we are doing and how we are doing it, that we hope others will feel the same when they come to, discover, and shop on our site!

We love your slogan, “A Well Crafted Life”- so much, in fact, that I have it over my desk in my studio. What does “A Well Crafted Life” mean to you?
For us, A Well-Crafted Life is about following your passions and crafting a life based on your innate abilities and deepest desires. It about creating a fulfilling life where you spend your days creatively and doing the things you are best at.

Starting BRIKA involved a pretty big life change for both of you, having worked in the corporate world for over 10 years each. Now that you’ve made the leap, however, was it worth it?
Yes! We could talk about this for hours! The three most satisfying things have been, one, building a community and brand from scratch. Every little aspect of BRIKA is a manifestation of what we visualized for this business and it is deeply satisfying to see it all come to life. Two, working everyday with incredible talented and inspiring makers who are clearly committed to “A Well-Crafted Life” – they are one of the main reasons we started BRIKA. And three, connecting to our customers (mostly women) who understand exactly what we are trying to build and why – our message and value proposition really resonates with them. Women are looking for creativity in all aspects of their lives – including where they shop!

Absolutely! It’s been amazing start, but we know you have more in the works. What’s coming up next for BRIKA?
There are so many things we want to do! Some of the most exciting projects we are working on involve an awesome gifting program (sign up learn more here), partnerships with some of our favorite brands, and doing what we do best–featuring MORE amazingly talented and passionate Makers of beautiful things!

Okay, one more question just for fun. You each are selecting a gift for the other to celebrate all your success. Which piece would you pick?
Kena: I would choose this necklace by one of our favorite jewelry designers :) for Jen  because I know she’s had her eye on it and it is a real spring statement piece!
Jen: I would choose this necklace for Kena because I know she’s been coveting it for a while now. She is so right when she says it reminds her of a Marni piece!

Thank you so much, Kena and Jen! If you love those selections, head on over to the Rue Pop-Up Shop because it’s only popping up until April 22!