Ex-Goldman Banker Gets $1 Million to Take on Crafts Giants With DIY Startup Darby Smart
Nicole Shariat Farb has always had a thing for crafting. But all too often her craft projects resulted in disappointment when she couldn’t recreate a given item to match the image that inspired it.
So Farb has left her career in investment banking with Goldman Sachs to start Darby Smart, a San Francisco-based company that hopes to upend the crafts industry by selling fun, easy-to-follow crafting kits for amateur do-it-yourselfers. The kits — which will range from $24 to $44, including shipping — will be thought up by designers and crafters with large followings on blogs and Pinterest. Those creators will get a cut of sales.
To get off the ground, Darby Smart has raised a $1 million seed round led by Forerunner Ventures, REI Capital and Maveron. Warby Parker co-founder Dave Gilboa is one of several individual investors in the round.
When evaluating the market opportunity, Farb said she was shocked to find that giant arts-and-crafts retailers like Michaels and Hobby Lobby don’t do more online to appeal to aspiring crafters looking for some guidance.
“There are two sides to the problem,” Farb told me in an interview. “Consumers like me who are in the store and are so frustrated. And on the other side, influencers who have huge readerships or followings on Pinterest or blogs, and who are not making any money in commerce.”
Darby Smart’s first offering will be a $29 kit for crafting a clutch purse out of a magazine — recently, Farb pointed out, Kate Spade sold a “book clutch” for more than $300. New kits will go on sale every three days.
The startup is going to have some competition. Brit + Co., for example, also sells DIY craft kits, but Farb said she views the company as more of a potential partner than anything else right now, since its focus is more on media.
One trend Farb won’t be jumping on? Subscription commerce.
“My take is, if we build an amazing delightful product,” she said, “people will come back because it’s amazing and addictive, not because we have their credit card on file.”