Early-stage brand development and developing business strategies and product positioning with a unique Peruvian design social enterprise
D.A.R. Proyectos— technically Desarrollo Artesanal Rentable Proyectos (Sustainable Artisan Development Project)—is what is often referred to as a “social enterprise” in the EU and UK, a business that bridges broader social impact and commerce.
Based in Pacasmayo in north-western Peru, the enterprise was founded in a confidence that traditional Andean craft culture can benefit from our increasingly global outlook and the growing awareness of the value of handcrafted products. But, D.A.R. Proyectos has high aspirations. Under the rigorous tutelage of co-founders, Canadian Jenny Boucher, a graduate of Parsons School of Design at The New School, NYC, and award-winning Peruvian industrial designer Mauricio Navarro, D.A.R. Proyectos strives to ensure that its “made in Peru” products not only benefit local artisans financially, but that it becomes a showcase for socially engaged design practice on the international stage.
D.A.R. Proyectos had no shortage of ambition or credibility in design terms. Essentially, the challenge was to translate a complex social enterprise committed to sustainability with sophisticated design values and high standards into a proposition for an international market. Yes, there are no shortage of well meaning people who will happily support traditional artisans in less developed regions around the world. But, no, it’s not always easy to get the “high end” design sector to understand that an SME producer in a less obvious location might actually be a significant vision on the international design scene; be a player.
The accolades of D.A.R. Proyectos were going from strength to strength on the rarified circuit of niche design awards, but how could that be translated into a bluntly commercial proposition?
PROJECTile worked with D.A.R. Proyectos at a fairly early stage in its development during a period of transition from an idealistic project with obvious social benefits to local artisans to a concern with gravitas ready to supply a hungry international market.
Naturally, a large part of this involved working on brand articulation and product and collection segmentation. How would B2B target audiences make sense of this brand in relation to their own customers? How would they navigate the various collections and products given what might look like a very eclectic—scattergun, even—offer of products to the newbie encountering D.A.R. Proyectos for the first time?
Storytelling was key. It was less consumer content and much more pressing in relation to how B2B and wholesale prospects understand the unique proposition behind this brand founded in the staunchly socially committed heritage of Peru’s turbulent 20th-century history, something perhaps less familiar to audiences further afield.
Politics in a contemporary South American context with D.A.R. Proyectos are not about the cliché of a Che Guevara poster on a student dorm wall, but the transaction of equity between the Andean weaver producing one of their products, and the householder of the affluent London home in which it will eventually live.
Much of PROJECTiile’s work with D.A.R. Proyectos played out in a hidden B2B space—retailer business decks, pricing strategies and even coaching on managing key B2B prospects or developing white labelling opportunities for established international brands.
The story so far…
We’re very proud of how D.A.R. Proyectos embraced what they asked PROJECTile to do. We hold our hands up: we can be a bitter pill to swallow. To quote one client, “When I said I wanted you to be honest with me, I never saw your boot camp coming.”
Today you’ll find their beautiful—did we mention award-winning?—products stocked in some of the world’s most directional retailers.