After moving countries, a Lebanese home décor designer took her business to Etsy

When Beirut-based designer Faten Baassiri made the move from to New York City, she had to build her career from scratch. Her starting point was Etsy, the creative eBay-like online wonderland that aggregates thousands of handcrafted design products.

Launching an Etsy store is no easy task and success isn't just slapping a few products online and hoping for the best. Since it's a user-generated platform, sales pretty much depend on popularity, reviews, and, well, Pinterest.

What makes her stand out from the glitter and the clutter are her modern arabesque designs with hints of traditional motifs, inspired by the Ottoman motifs that adorn Lebanon. Her mom, Hiba Baassiri, handed down a long expertise in product design and embroidery and Faten incorporated New York's changing trends into these mediums.

After a year in New York - she found her perfect matches in manufacturers and suppliers in the city, and the bulk of her work that involves the work of underprivileged women in Beirut is sent across the Atlantic and shipped from the US.

To further work her way to Etsy stardom, she's making sure to understand the ins and outs of the selling platform and attend workshops like Etsy Up, gathering tricks of the trade from ecommerce stars, marketing professionals, and Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson.

She's still new on Etsy but her store is bubbling with geometric delights. Scroll to read more from Faten!

When and why did you decide to launch your Etsy shop?

I always wanted to design home products but never got the time to focus on it. Working as an interior architect in Beirut kept me busy. When I moved to New York, the time it took me to settle in and sort out my paperwork forced me to assess and think about what would my next step be. And it hit me: I want to follow my passion. This is when Métis was born and I opened the online shop on Etsy.

Your items are all based around a geometric and arabesque theme. Does your Lebanese background influence your style?

My Lebanese background does influence my style. I'm very fond of Geometric Patterns. They have been used everywhere for centuries, especially in the Middle East. Métis was born out of my pursuit for these patterns and intrigue of their unlimited possibilities. I try to depict each one and attain a balance between modernism and tradition, using them as inspiration to design modern products for everyday life.

How does New York inspire your work?

New York, like other cosmopolitan cities, offers a lot of artistic and design opportunities and inspiration. It is one of the motives that pushed me to create Métis. The city does inspire me in a lot of ways. The designs I work on mainly follow its trends and the busy lifestyles of the New Yorkers in their flats with minimal space.   

If you had to choose a personal favorite from the 36 items in your store, which would it be?

It’s hard to choose an absolute favorite. But if I really have to pick one, I would pick the Sofa Table. It's one of the items that have been very popular.

You've worked with manufacturers in Beirut for some products. What's it like communicating a project with another continent?

It is not easy to communicate the embroidered products, especially with the time difference. I am very thankful that I am able to coordinate with my mom, who lives in Beirut, and delegate the manufacturing process to her. I send her the designs and we communicate everyday regarding materials and colors. I also try to travel to Beirut often, and get a lot of work done. We then assign the work to the women who help us create these products. 

Who are the women working with you on the projects? 

All the products embroidered are hand-stitched by a group of unfortunate and underprivileged women who work on them in the comfort of their own homes. Each piece is manually cross-stitched and turned into beautifully handmade cushions, throw blankets, etc. This allows me and my mother to help them work, improve their way of life and hopefully give them a better tomorrow even if it's something small for now. 

Any future plans beyond Etsy?

I have a lot of plans; I'm just not sure where to start. People are now beginning to discover Métis and the products are gaining a lot of attention and interest. It's still very early - the Etsy shop opened just five months ago. Hopefully, with time, it can mature and I'll be able to create larger furniture and other products, taking it beyond accessories and homeware items. After all, I am still working from home! So growing and acquiring an atelier would be next most probably. Then, who knows, maybe go into retail.

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