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First came the creators. Then came the merchandise. Many prominent social media personalities take advantage of their platforms, and one of the ways they do this is by selling products associated with their brands. For example, YouTuber MrBeast (103 million subscribers) launched a line of chocolate bars. TikTok Star Charli D’Amelio (145.4 million) sells enough unique units Clothes that someone could wear a different outfit every day for two months. Same Jonathan Graziano (4.5m) – owner of Noodle, TikTok’s favorite pug who refuses to get up most mornings – posted Inspired by Noodle merchandise including t-shirts, pillows and a children’s book titled Noodle and Boneless Day.
Many startups have tapped into this new market to streamline the supply chain for goods, leaving creators to do what they do best: create content. This week, Rachyl Jones of The Observer spoke with Ronak Trivedi, co-founder and CEO of Pietra, one of the companies powering this sector of the creator economy.
What Pietra does
“Pietra provides access to the back-end, unsexy infrastructure needed to run a brand,” Trivedi said, such as finding the right manufacturers, storage warehouses and shipping services. “So the socially savvy entrepreneur never has to worry about it.”
Trivedi, a 33-year-old Torontonian, came up with the idea while working as a product manager for Uber Pool, a subsection of Uber that lets people share rides for less. He’s seen how the next generation of food brands live on apps like Uber Eats and was inspired by the idea of virtual kitchens or hyper-optimized restaurants for delivery. At the same time, his friends were trying to launch their own product lines, and he saw how little support they had. He combined this interest in supply chains with the lack of resources he noticed to build Pietra.
Creators can get their products to market in one to two months with Pietra and do so by spending hundreds, rather than thousands of dollars, he said. Creators pay the $39 monthly subscription to Pietra, which works with over 750 factories to produce products that can include cat eye sunglasses, blush makeupand swimwear made from recycled materials. They can also pay for warehouse storage services and pick up and packing fee of $1 per item plus shipping. The experience is customizable, so a creator can opt out of any segment and take on that responsibility themselves. The company currently has 20 full-time employees.
A new era of merchandising
In 2019, Pietra started working with 25 designers. Today, more than 50,000 creators use some aspect of Pietra’s offerings, sell tens of millions of branded products, he says. Trivedi said he expects that number to double by the end of the year.
Niche products allow creators to build deeper relationships with their audience. Charlie Jordan (8.1 million) took her travel experiences to see what people around the world smoked and developed them into a business where she sells smokable blunts filled with rose petals—for mental health.
Launching a consumer product brand through one of these services isn’t just for celebrities, either. Isabella Grandic, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, started a card game called “Boob Blurb” which seeks to normalize discussions about women’s bodies and health. She sells the game at Pietra e-commerce marketplace which functions as the online retailer of homemade goods Etsy.
This interview originally appeared in The Creators, a newsletter about the people who power the creator economy. Get it in your inbox before it goes live.