When Novica contacted me recently asking if I was interested in reviewing their online shop for artisan products from around the world, they could have made their lives easier by pointing out that they have hammocks for sale and I was welcome to test out the service by ordering those.
Instead, we went back and forth a bit to ensure that they were a legit company, that their service was beneficial to all involved, and that it was something I’d want to share with you guys. Not that I can be bought off with hammocks. (Well, not any more, thanks to Novica!).
So, what is Novica, and why should you care?
At first glance, they would appear to be an online store. If you are as excited about shopping as I’m not (I probably should have got Vera to do this review, although then we would have ended up with impractical things like jewellery instead of all purpose hammocks), then you may have dozed off already. But fear not – they are an online store with a difference.
You see, Novica works with artisans from all around the world, allowing them to sell the products on their site to a much wider audience than they might otherwise have been able to reach. These artisans sell these products to Novica at a price they set, and then Novica makes them available to people like you and me, obviously with a markup to make the whole thing worthwhile to everyone. They’re also backed by National Geographic, which is a pretty significant plus in my book.
The good thing about the setup is that it is a win/win situation for the artisan. They aren’t locked in to an exclusivity contract, and they set the prices for the products they sell. They can keep selling their products in their traditional retail channels, whilst knowing that folks from around the globe are also able to buy from them. So how does that work in practice?
I popped over to the Novica website to take a look, and gosh, do they have a bunch of products from around the world for sale! After spending some time peering at wooden dragons, romantic gifts for him and romantic gifts for her (sorry Vera, the hammocks won this time!), I spied the hammock section, after which I was lost. With no less than twelve hammock categories to peruse, this was no easy task. Luckily I had this picture of Vera in a hammock to keep me strong.
It was around this point that the only minor hiccup in the whole process popped up. Whilst the artisans are based around the world, shipping costs are biased towards US residents. So if you live in the US, you’ll find shipping to be very reasonable. If you happen to live in Europe, like me, you’ll find that many products become fairly expensive fairly quickly once you’ve added international shipping. Light items become the order of the day.
This actually made my decision making process a lot easier. Charly from Indonesia happened to have a line of hammocks designed for travel, made out of parachute silk, in a variety of exciting colours which, most importantly, were very light, meaning shipping costs to Europe were affordable. Obviously I had to order three.
Not very much later, a package arrived on the doorstep, within which were three beautifully gift-wrapped hammocks. It was almost a shame unwrapping them actually, that is how well they were presented. There was also a handwritten note from the Novica guys in Bali & Java, thanking me for my purchase, and featuring a few Indonesian phrases for me to practice when in my hammock. You’ve got to love that personal touch. There was also a little story card about the artisan who had put the hammocks together. All very nice.
So what else can I tell you about Novica? Well, as I said, they’re supported by National Geographic, a partnership which started in 2000 and that continues to this day. That’s a pretty significant vote of confidence. They’re also no flash in the pan, having been going for nearly fifteen years, which in web terms is basically forever (did the internet even exist in 1999?). So they are clearly doing something very right. Additionally, feedback from the artisans on their website is very positive. And I can’t fault the service – it was flawless.
Well, that’s enough from me – I’ve got some hammocks to road test. If you’re looking for interesting and slightly different gifts for someone in your life (or yourself!), that also help support artisans around the world, then I can very much recommend giving Novica a go!
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