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The inside story of how Faire built its brand on intuition and luck

Interview: We sat down with Katie Witkop, the Founding Designer of the wholesale marketplace unicorn, Faire.

Katie Witkop, the Founding Designer at Faire

How did you land on the concept for the Faire brand we see today?

To be completely honest, it was a combination of intuition and luck.

Haha, tell us more.

When we were crafting the original brand, it was under the company name, Indigo Fair, which was the first name of the company.

Max (the CEO of Faire) and I would go into different retailer shops to test our very humble version of the Faire product. We squeezed ourselves into various boutique storage closets around San Francisco just to get 15 minutes with a store owner to review our app. That’s when I noticed, the majority of these retailers happened to be women. After our interviews, these retailers would talk about their inventory and upsell different brands around the store who also happened to be women owned businesses. Before I realized it, those moments started to influence the design of our product and brand. My hope was for the end product to feel bespoke and curated, much like these boutiques we visited. I wanted the brand to feel representative of the community it was serving —which happened to be, by far and large, a women powered ecosystem.

Before Faire even had 100 retailers shopping on the site, we started to define this curated, feminine angle for the product. That then carried through in every decision we made — including our rebrand to eventually be named Faire. Today, women-run businesses make up over 63% of Faire brands and a majority of our retailer community.

What were some of the core decisions you made in shaping the brand?

Our logo is a great example of that higher level brand direction I mentioned earlier. When crafting our logo, we wanted it to feel representative of our retailer & brand community. The goal was for the logomark to feel similar to a shop sign that you would see on your local main street. That’s why we chose a classic serif font, something that could outlast the trends. We wanted to pay homage, in a way, to the traditional version of commerce that has existed for forever. And choosing to represent our logo in one word, versus an icon, was a fantastic start at distancing ourselves from common tech standards, and opting for something with more heritage.

Since people have aggregated in villages, buying and selling goods is one of the oldest trades out there. Faire blending into that culture, helped draw bridges to our customers and community — versus distancing ourselves with a brand that felt cold or unfamiliar.

How did you choose the name Faire?

How Faire got its name is really a beautiful story in and of itself. In hindsight, moving  from IndigoFair to Faire seems quite obvious. But actually it wasn't nearly as easy as it sounds.

When we decided to rebrand, we underwent this huge creative process where the founders came up with 200+ names that the company could become. Unfortunately none of them hit the mark. After weeks of debate, we felt completely lost. In a moment of frustration, we decided to park the conversation and take a lunch break. It was during lunch, with the whole team (which at the time was about 20 folks) that we started discussing company names yet again, and by pure luck, with the whole team behind it, we landed on naming the company Faire in about 20 minutes.

The Faire logomark has an E at the end, which translates to a French verb meaning to do or to make. We loved that this felt similar to where we’d been (Indigo Fair) but was without question, more celebratory of our customers, the doers and the makers that have established their own path.

Faire Product

In general, how we shop is much more thoughtful than we give ourselves credit for, despite living in a world where everything can be shipped to your door. Sure, buying paper towels on Amazon is convenient — but in my opinion, nothing beats the feeling of finding the perfect gift for someone you care about.

Imagine you went to your favorite shop down the street and you picked up a candle that smells incredible. The shop owner then tells you about the candle maker, and how they’re a husband and wife team based in Brooklyn. Your sister lives in Brooklyn, so you decide to purchase the candle for her. That gift now has such a great story behind it, and gives it so much more meaning. Faire is a marketplace that’s end goal is supporting this time worn value of human connection. That thoughtfulness will always be a cherished value for people.

Some people think, there's like this mastermind behind a company brand that must be thinking about all these pieces of what pulls a company story together really thoughtfully and pragmatically. For Faire, it really wasn't the case. It really was a ton of little steps that all happened to be in the same direction over time. With moments of luck and intuition all along the way.

Tell us about your design team. Are you hiring?

We're a design team of about 30 talented people, across six disciplines. We have open roles on almost every team, from content design to systems and UX research. A fun fact is that everyone on the design team has their own side hustle or creative outlet. I work for a local florist in the Marina district, and have been working Saturdays for them for about six years. Our Head of Design, Robin, is a maker himself, and designs a kid’s lunch box company. The mission of Faire is so much more than skin deep for this team, and that manifests in the excitement and drive we show in our work.

Learn more about our open roles, work, and team by checking out our team site here!

See more of their work on Faire Playbook

Faire Design:

Faire Playbook: Public Board