Shannon Kaye is a seriously busy all-rounder. In between hosting TV shows, putting together DIY how-tos and art and interior design work, she has now launched her own Plein Heir range. Shannon uses clever bright prints and gorgeous hand painting and decoupage techniques to transform and upcycle furniture and textiles. There are some totally gorgeous pieces, and what’s more they’re all eco-conscious, and locally made in Shannon’s native San Francisco.
We caught up with Shannon to talk business, busy-ness and her best tips for anyone else starting out in retail.
What led you to start your own business?
I started my own business because I wanted to live a totally creative life and I thought I could forge my own path to financial success.
I was focused mostly on creative services before starting Plein Heir. I love working closely with my clients and collaborating on all kinds of projects and products with tradespeople, artists and other creatives who share a common vision for trying out-of-the-box ideas, doing exceptional work, and delivering beautiful results.
Creating Plein Heir added a totally different dimension to my business, as it’s my first foray into product development, manufacturing and retail sales.
What has been most difficult?
Plein Heir has been a real learning curve. It seems obvious now, but I didn’t account for the amount of time and capital that’s required to develop, create, and sell my products.
I just had so many ideas for things I want to create, but I have to pace myself financially and professionally to give my initial pieces time to get out into the market, and to reach my target audience.
How do you get your work seen by customers or retailers, is it through tradeshows, mail shots etc?
For now, I’m selling directly to clients and the public, so getting my home goods, art and furnishings out there is totally up to me. I’m fortunate to host television and video projects, which gets my face in front of wide audience. I think people know me best from some of my US television work.
In the long-run, I am working towards creating a brick and mortar Plein Heir boutique in San Francisco. I’m really excited to be able to expand my offerings, host special events, and feature other artists and craftspeople who fit the Plein Heir aesthetic.
Right now, I’m focused on building my sales and expanding awareness about my products through Pinterest and my own site. I’ve learned so much about e-commerce sites and social media and SEO… but there’s still so much to learn!
Any advice to people starting out?
My advice for people starting out is to recruit in as much help as possible! You need other people to help you progress in every area of your business – especially the areas that are your weak spots.
Be honest about what those weak spots are too. Work at your business constantly, but take time, often, to step away from it all so you can look at your business with fresh eyes and ideas.
Give your ideas time to take hold. If you keep shifting from one idea or product to another, you don’t give people a chance to become familiar with you. Every idea or service will attract a slightly different customer, so give them a chance to find you before you give up on an idea or move on to the next one.
What has been most successful about the business?
For me, ‘repeat business’ is the most rewarding, both personally and professionally. Once people work with me on a project or buy a piece, they tend to come back time and again. They grow with me and bring their friends along!
So it’s up to me to get in front of as many people as I can to find adventurous and open-minded clients, who love my aesthetic and are excited to see what else I can do. I’m sure you can relate to that, Abigail. It’s the best feeling when someone really “gets you”!