Rick Kanter, Managing Director and Co-Founder of barrio.la, will be speaking at our MAKE IT Monthly event February, sharing his DIY tips for social media for brands and manufacturers. We wanted to learn more about what he and his sister were up to with their company, barrio.la.
Krisztina “Z” Holly: Tell us what you are up to!
Rick Kanter: barrio.la is an e-commerce and lifestyle brand. We try to help Greater L.A. independent businesses and community advocacy organizations succeed and compete effectively. We’re stoked to be partnering with Craft & Main Co. to create the first consumer cooperative dedicated to products made in and around L.A. We also sat down recently with CicLAvia and look forward to upcoming features prior to CicLAvia-Culver City meets Venice.
Z: What inspired the company?
RK: It’s funny that Jen and I arrived at the same destination when we founded barrio.la–helping small businesses compete with big companies–because we had different paths to it. Jen was way into the local craft scene, and saw huge potential to connect people with cool products made locally, while I was all about the story. I took the train and bus exclusively for almost 2 years, and my “schtick” was that “everyone had a story” but we can’t learn it until we connect with them. We hope barrio.la can help connect stories of people making stuff in L.A.
Z: Tell us about how you support the community. What is your business model and what kind of services do you provide?
RK: Not about to drop all the stats on you here about this, but it’s been shown that buying locally has a much greater impact on a community than not buying locally. We think we can support the community by showing them that the things they buy on a day-to-day basis can be found in and around Los Angeles, and that it can have a positive impact on both the community and the environment.
Z: What is a trend you are really excited about?
RK: For a while there, shopping became so impersonal. It became about convenience and urgency, and it was not about making connections. We really feel this disconnect isn’t growing, but instead going away. People are being more conscious about where they shop, and the “trend” to focus on buying local is something we see more as movement to last, rather than really being a trend.
Z: What are your top three tips for companies and entrepreneurs to drive or adapt to that trend?
RK: Show your customers how you have a presence in your local community. Connect with them on a personal and emotional level, and the sales will follow.
Z: What’s the most memorable story from launching or growing your organization?
RK: Honestly, the multiple times that someone or some company has said “yeah, your sister already reached out” or “your brother already emailed me.” We’re so different in so many ways, but without prompting, we tend to think alike so when we find something we dig. We both tend to jump on it quick.
Z: What’s next?
RK: Our planned partnership with Craft & Main Co. is going to be rad. A member-owned cooperative committed to promoting and finding cool products made-in-L.A. is something we originally wanted to do, but needed someone innovative and bright like JL Hernandez of Craft & Main to think it up. Our partnership will allow us to get insight from other makers and entrepeneurs around L.A., and focus our efforts on what people are asking for. It’s an exciting adventure that I know you all will hear more about as it grows.
Z: How are you hoping people might get involved and how can they learn more?
RK: Visit barrio.la and check out our current product partners. if you don’t see your favorite local maker on there, share it with us! With our new Craft & Main Cooperative we will be adding new partners weekly, and we will rely on the insight of Angelenos to do so.
About Rick Kanter
Rick kanter is a sales, marketing, and business administration executive using his decade-plus large organizational experience in television to now help Greater L.A. independent businesses and community advocacy organizations succeed and compete effectively. He founded two companies with his sister, Jen Kanter: e-commerce and lifestyle brand barrio.la, and digital strategy company barrio partners, LLC.
The interview has been edited for clarity.