Retail is very different today to how it was when I started 14 years ago. I happen to think it’s a good thing although I know lots of retailers don’t. But here’s the thing - in order to get customers along to your store or website you have to excite them. There are endless options out there for customers to choose, endless websites and lots of bland stores, so as retailers we have to constantly up our game. We have to think about visual messages and sensory stimulation, we have to story tell, design products that have a narrative in order to stay ahead of the game and faced with a mass of competition, we have to innovate. Constantly!
Take our botanicals. A year ago I said to Gem that I wanted to take our faux botanicals to the next level, to produce stems, native branches and fronds that no one else was doing. It was a risk because our first few collections sold very well, but I had kind of moved on. Other retailers were copying and I got bored, I felt we could do better. Whilst everyone else was doing the pretty look and jumping on the tulip and orchid bandwagon, I wanted wilting branches, discoloured petals, antique patinas, cup and saucer blooms, and weeds. I wanted to take a step back look at the landscape and drill into foraged branches that grew along the roadside or by the side of a parking lot, or in a meadow. Foliage that tumble and spill over, hops which are rarely seen as decorative and are often overlooked to take centre stage, and wild grasses. A collection basically that would either tank us or push us further into the stratosphere! I worried and fretted about this collection so much because as much as Gem and I loved it, would other people? We had invested so much into it. The proof is in the pudding as they say – it’s been our biggest selling collection EVER. We are totally blown away with the sales (to the point where some of it has sold out – and yet in our demand planning meetings we had some SKU’s down as selling out within 6 months. Our string of pearls plant is such an example, zillions in on a container and about 20 left and they haven’t even been in a month. It’s now pushing me further and further into the wild! It keeps me on my toes and our distinctive voice and take on botanicals is really paying off.
Anyone who follows me on social will know how much I hate getting on a plane long hauling it all over the world continually. But you know what, today I can sit back and say those factory visits and late night discussions in China where we were pulling our hair out drilling into all the stems has actually paid off!
Hard work but totally worth it!