Cardui Collective

Ongeleigh Underwood

Concept shop brings together American, artisanal brands with a cooperative operations model 

Cardui Collective is a brick and mortar concept store where regional artisans participate with a “buy-in” model of participation. Collaborations between brands have become more than a content driver anymore, it has become a digital survival strategy. Cardui disrupts the traditional buyer/seller roles by going directly to the customer. All participants are owners of their own artisanal businesses, and their product choices are their own. Even as online sale figures soar across the board, the need for the tangible experience - to touch and feel and try – remains an essential part of the purchasing decision for boutique brands.

The three main partners in the store are Ongeleigh Underwood of Temperate Clothing, Maggie Pate of Nade Studio, and Stephanie Martin of Annie Hanks Ceramics. All three partners have been designing and making their products in Chattanooga for years, but have never individually had the opportunity for a brick and mortar store. The idea of lateralizing the risk came to us as we continued to meet and discuss our personal challenges as artisans. Combined with the experience of putting on one-day seller events that drove traffic and increased awareness of independent artisans, the model became clear. In our desire to create an offering that represented an intentional lifestyle, we asked other area artisans to buy-in and become a part of the store as well. Cardui offered an array of home goods, gifts, and apparel represented by 15 boutique brands.

Artisan goods are so much more than handmade - it is the story of our search for humanity, our individual desire for significance. The value of knowing the “who” and the “how” behind a product is about understanding what you are supporting. Just as we will vote to exercise our social beliefs, what we as Americans choose to purchase is paramount to our values and morals. The more we know where the raw materials come from, the skill of the artisan who made it, the distance it travels to get to a store shelf, and the circumstances surrounding its production, the better choices we can make around our consumption. Understanding that a product result of multiple interactions with its environment emphasizes that how we do something is as important as what we do.

Cardui Collective became a part of the Warehouse Row community in 2016, from October through December, as a "proof of concept" of collaborative retail in the Chattanooga market.