ToSouk - helping local artisans take their goods to the marketplace

A group of local entrepreneurs have a social marketplace website to shop for everything hip and handmade

A group of local entrepreneurs are making the web a place to shop for everything hip and handmade.

Considering purchasing a one-off piece of jewellery, or a cosy for your iPhone, or you don’t really know what you want but you don’t want to turn up to meet a friend who has bought the same thing from the same shop again?

Shopping online for handmade one-offs used to be a chore on sites the size of eBay and selling such products was financially prohibitive, but the cyber marketplace is turning things upside down by bringing an alternative craft fair vibe to internet shopping.

ToSouk was conceived by David and Jennifer Dickinson in early 2011. David and Jennifer, and a small group of friends had found that there was no viable marketplace to exhibit and sell their creations online, and realised how difficult and expensive it was for creators to sell art and handmade products. The majority of other e-commerce sites such as eBay are inundated with electrical equipment and miscellaneous products.

As with eBay, sites with any real palate for marketing their products would charge absorbent listing and selling fees. Defiantly, David and Jennifer, along with Anthony Dickinson, Adam Knight and Andrew Brown, and with a little help from friends and partners, designed the site and worked relentlessly to launch in the autumn of 2011 after months of hard work and sleepless nights.

ToSouk was the name chosen as a play on the term ‘take your goods To Market’ is a free website in that there is no charge for listing or selling your products.

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“ToSouk is a business but it is about more than just buying something for one pound and selling it for two” David Dickinson stated when questioned as to how such a business could stay in existence.

“We have designed and built a site that can be run cheaply and efficiently by ‘volunteers’ in much the same way as Wikipedia does. We do accept donations, and we may in the future need to consider letting some advertising space to keep running costs under control, but the core of our business is that it is a forum to create, to sell and to buy handmade, vintage and collectable products, so that people, in what are considered cottage industries, can make a living doing what they love without having a Masters in Business Administration or without being a recognised artist.

“We sell our work on ToSouk and so do our friends, and if we can help people sell their work at the same time then our business has become a success.”

“For the buyer there is added value in purchasing original pieces without the extra cost of commission, for designers, it is a free route to marketing and selling directly to the consumer”

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