Today we pick up the keys to our new main street store. We are freaking out a little – since this is the biggest business step our little company has ever taken. But it feels right – and this new leg of our journey is going to be an exciting one. I guess I’ve got a new blog topic!
In this post I’ll share the rationale and approach we’re taking to the new location.
Here are some pics of the space that we took last week:
Our Need For An Office
Our business started at our kitchen table in 2008. And over the years that has worked remarkably well even as we’ve gone from a two person operation to a larger team. Honestly – it does feel like a circus sometimes – we have 2 rooms in our house that are pretty much dedicated business spaces and our garage is filled to the brim. And of course we still use the kitchen table for our team meetings, (pretty much all day on Monday). But we were okay ‘as-is’ until a year ago – when we launched Pixie Packs. In the last year that effort has grown too big for a garage operation. It’s time for a real office.
We began looking for spaces about four months ago and started by narrowing the location down to the right city. We had 3 local towns to choose from – and although we debated each – we went with downtown Auburn since it’s the most convenient and the best of the 3 choices. We wished we lived closer to downtown Seattle (or San Francisco for that matter), or a few of the upscale cities east of Seattle, but we don’t. We live in small town America where the main street has a fair number of empty stores, little foot traffic, but still a very cute overall vibe. We knew we didn’t want to be in some gross business park, or a warehouse type location. We needed something more fun. When we saw the former “Love Travel” office we immediately liked the vibe it put off and could imagine our operation in it. We could imagine it feeling like a two story version of Britex (Cinnamon’s favorite store of all time).
Here’s a video Cinnamon did of one of our visits to the Britex Store:
But the funny part is – although we now have a main street store (that feels very weird to write btw) – we really need it for offices, storage, work-space, not the retail aspect. So we’ve decided to go with a 90% office, 10% retail approach. But we want that 10% to be mind-blowingly awesome to doll enthusiasts. We will be open to walk-in customers, and carry a very limited supply of items for sale, but the primary purpose of the space will be to support our business, which is 100% online. How will we do that?
We are going to create something that we’ve never seen before. Maybe you have – and if so – feel free to shoot us a message with some pictures or links. Our vision is for a mixed up version of…
- A doll atelier (workshop) that has active “artistry” happening for visitors (and customers) to see. This will include doll clothes designing, fabric cutting, construction, photography, and shipping – everything we do every day – on display for people to see. Of course the design work will all be modern, not historical. So think Euro Libby, Tokyo Libby, Outback Libby, or Malibu Libby.
- Imagine the color and fun activity of a candy store where the workers are making the candy for people to watch, except it’s doll clothes.
- Crash all that into the visual appeal of Britex Fabric.
- Layer on a high-tech Silicon Valley styled corporate office upstairs – with the marketers using their online skills to pay the bills.
- Sprinkle in artist/employees downstairs focusing on the product at a level of artistry that makes Dior In Miniature proud. Like this:
At first we struggled over how to do the branding because our primary business focus is Pixie Faire, (now with over 1 million patterns downloaded). But then we got clarity on the issue. The store will be Liberty Jane in branding and overall presentation. It will be “doll couture – custom fitted fashions rare and beautiful.” That’s who we are. But we will also run both Pixie Faire and Sew Powerful from the location. They’ll be upstairs and less ‘on display’ visually.
If we can master the business model we are envisioning, then we believe we can begin opening retail locations in more fertile locations in the future as our online business continues to grow. Our online business under-writes this effort of course – and it is the main focus of our lives, but retail feels like our destiny. Auburn will (probably) always be our home base, but having additional stores in more mall-centric locations seems like a fun dream – if we can pull it off.
We are going to try something very different and launch a kickstarter campaign to help raise the funds for the set-up. We are working on the details now and hope to launch it in September – it will include rewards that our fans will (hopefully) go crazy over. We plan on having a grand openning party after things are up and running – with friends and family, (and any Seattle area fans that would like to attend). Of course – I’ll share pictures and stories along the way.
Every step on our journey has led us to today. We are so insanely grateful for our growing group of fans, followers, and customers that loyally support Cinnamon’s work. It’s amazing to see it continue to grow.
Leave us a comment and tell us what you think, (are we crazy?). What are your suggestions for how to do this right?