Sarah (Zzouzi Vintage) and Kyla (Lost & Find Vintage) have teamed up to create pop-up trunk shows in retail spots and eateries in different neighborhoods. Their first one at Andersonville coffee shop The Coffee Studio was a great success and they’re bringing their pop-up to Antique Taco in Wicker Park this Sunday. I asked them a few questions about this new venture and where it’s headed.
TVB: How and why did you two decide to team up?
Sarah: Kyla and I met just a few months ago and quickly became friends. We are both pretty new to the business of selling vintage, but we both have a background in management and the arts. We quickly discovered that we were both striving towards a similar goal of selling vintage full-time and owning our own shops. We found out that although we were very like-minded we also complimented each other very well – she’s better at finances and I’m all about creativity. It just made sense!
Kyla: Sarah and I have a pretty similar customer base; we definitely cater to the younger crowd. And we’re both drawn to bright colors, fun patterns, and unique pieces that can mix easily with a contemporary wardrobe, so it just makes sense that we would work together. Sarah’s style is a little more edgy and mine is a little more folksy, so we balance each other out pretty well. For example, Sarah convinced me to start wearing lipstick (yikes!) and I convinced her to go with basic flats in an outfit already full of statement pieces.
TVB: Did you need to do anything special to get The Coffee Studio on board?
S: The Coffee Studio is my favorite coffee shop in Chicago, hands down. I get my coffee there daily (it helps that I live just a block away) and I’m now friends with most of the baristas. I think having a relationship pre-established with the business you’re interested in working with defiantly helps. Lee, the owner, was really cool with hosting a trunk show. It was really nice of her!
K: Just our bubbly personalities! But seriously, it really helps that we already had a relationship with them. It’s Sarah’s local coffee shop and we have meetings there all the time. The baristas know us and even all came to the yard sale we had this summer.
More after the jump!
Whether you’re a shop owner intent on driving traffic to your online listings, an interior designer looking to land new clients, or just a lifelong learner interested in architecture, industrial design, and the like, if you’re using Twitter to give and get information, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut when you’re following the same people and seeing the same kinds of conversations Tweeted day in and day out.
There are websites that suggest new people to follow based on your social circles, and Twitter has even introduced this feature to their own interface recently. But what about searching out and following conversations based on popular hashtags related to your design interests? I did this recently and found a bunch of interesting conversations taking place with users far outside my current web, and it allowed me to discover content, blogs, and links that I hadn’t yet known existed.
Here we suggest a handful of design, fashion, vintage, and decor hashtags to search out and follow on Twitter if you want to break out of your social media rut:
Today we’re continuing our series about shop branding in logos, asking vendors about the process behind designing their shop logos (which are so important if you’re attempting to run a small business, right?).
TVB vendor Sarah Polster, who runs cushionchicago and who has boothed it out at every Bazaar since we popped up at Congress in August of 2010 (whoo!), talks to us about the inspiration behind her shop logo and the process of designing it.
Who designed your logo?
Elizabeth Meiers, a good friend and extraordinary graphic designer, of course! But not for free (you get what you pay for!). At the time she was freelancing at Pentagram in New York. (Nice credentials!) Full disclosure: she was actually my second friend on the task. I had worked for a couple months with another graphic designer on the concept, and we just weren’t finding anything that felt right: simple yet strong enough. I tabled the idea until Liz stepped up!
What idea or feel did you want your logo to convey?
As someone who works in marketing, I am sure I wrote a creative brief (!), but I can’t find it. I wanted something that resolves several disparate characteristics: modern yet vintage, clean yet cozy, representative yet abstract. I definitely wanted to associate a color with my brand. A steely gray/blue has always been my go-to shade. I am instantly drawn to anything in this color, like a moth to a flame. So that was an easy choice.
A little background: my last name, Polster, means “cushion” in German. At the time of the logo design (2004), I was starting my interior design business and hand making a lot of soft furnishings, so the name made perfect sense. Now that I am bringing vintage objects to the masses, the brand name and logo segue nicely! Also, I adore vintage textiles — fabrics, upholstered furniture, silk scarves, quilts, pillows (or cushions as Europeans refer to them) — so it all works out.
Last week Katherine and I gave a presentation to a marketing class at Columbia College. We shared with the students how we grew our business from the start to now and how we plan to grow even more. Much of our talk focused on how we collaborated with our personal and professional networks to bootstrap it out and not borrow $$ to make things happen.
It got me to thinking that many of you who come to our shows, vend at our markets, and read this blog are entrepenuers too, so we should do some information collaboration! Like where did/do you get inspiration, tips, and motivation to start/continue your small biz. Let’s start with books!
What are your top three business books? Click through for my list.
I recently sold these lamps.
Which is awesome. But as any online seller knows, selling stuff means one thing: shipping.
Dun-dun-DUN! Hate it! Especially for big, fragile stuff like this. And lamps are THE WORST because they’re lopsided, long, heavy, and fragile. Good luck finding a box that fits the pair!
But I’ve been doing this garbage for many a year. I’ve become a sort-of pro at it — at least to where my skills match the dudes’ who work at the UPS Store. (Doesn’t mean I don’t still hate it.) So I’m a-gonna do a photo skill share on how to pack and mail a pair of lamps.
Hyperlinks to the products I use in shipping. BUY THESE PRODUCTS. Save yourself the time and energy of squirrel-gathering shipping supplies, bite the bullet, and order them from Uline (and only Uline — all other shipping supply companies are inferior). I command you.
We talked before about the importance of great photos in your vintage listings that help you take advantage of favoriting and sharing boards like Pinterest. Check out these 6 ways to ensure you’re getting the best product photos every time.
1. Have a dedicated space to do your product photography.
Maybe you don’t want to go as far as setting up a tabletop photo studio in your apartment, but keep all your photo materials (backdrop, tape, camera, extra lighting) in one place so you don’t have to go around gathering stuff up when it’s time to do product shots. Always take your photos in the same location so you can learn to work with that space’s natural light.
New year, new you, right? Now that we’re a solid month in, have you stuck to your resolutions about keeping better track of your business finances in 2012? It’s not too late to start! Here are 5 tips that will help your vintage business get more financially fit this year.
1. Keep track of your inventory.
Use an Excel spreadsheet or a Google Doc to keep track of your inventory. Give each item a unique inventory number, record what it is, where you bought it and for how much, where you’re selling it, and how much it eventually sells for. This way you have an amazingly accurate snapshot of your inventory’s current worth, how much “dead weight” you’re sitting on, and how much you’ve made in raw sales throughout the year.
And don’t forget to print and save your beginning inventory on January 1, 2012 (or whenever you start) and ending inventory on December 31, 2012 for accounting purposes.
2. Get a business banking account.
Talk to your current bank about opening a separate bank account for your business. It’s easier than most people think, and it allows you to separate your finances so you can use automated software to track your business profit and loss without having to individually edit everything. Getting your business out of the personal income tangle also helps to establish a financial history in case you seek funding for anything later.
If you’re not using Pinterest to strategically promote your online shop, you should be. News out this weekend points to Pinterest as a top traffic driver for retailers — it’s eeked out Google as a place people find your stuff online, click, and purchase.
So how do you strap some reigns on this incredibly powerful beast and bend it to your will?
It’s important to remember that Pinterest is a social tool, similar to Twitter. You shouldn’t use it solely to promote or “blast” your products. Rather it’s a way to gather a cult of interest around your brand identity. In my shop, BackGarage, for instance, I sell 1970s boho vintage and Scandinavian modern housewares. On my Pinterest account, I’ve created a few Pin Boards (Seventies Boho, Scando Modern) to reflect my personal style. Like-minded pinners follow the boards, and occasionally I pin my own stuff. I’m trying to create a following and a community vs. doing hardcore promotion.
We should also mention that you need to have dynamic inventory and information on your site in order to fully benefit from Pinterest. Pinterest works to drive traffic to new content, like shop items or blog posts. So before trying to use Pinterest to boost traffic to your shop, make sure you have those things going on for yourself.
Keeping that in mind, here are 9 tips on how to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your shop — and hopefully boost sales!
1. Open an account and brand your identity.
If you don’t already have a Pinterest account, request an invite. Once you open your account, make your Pinterest handle your shop’s name (or the closest approximation), and your icon your shop’s logo. In the Edit Profile section, add links to your shop and information about what you sell and your personal style.
2. Create boards that support your shop’s look.
Using the Add button, click Create a Board, and start boards that would interest your shop’s customers. For instance, if you sell 1930s-’50s farmhouse rustic and pride yourself on ingenious re-purposing ideas, start a board to collect pictures of “a-ha” uses for flea market antiques. (Cast iron muffin tins as craft drawer organizers, for instance.)
I scored a booth for my vintage business, BackGarage, at the Edgewater Antique Mall last November. Selling Mid-century furnishings at an antique mall has been sort of a life goal of mine since I discovered the Broadway Antique Market at age 20. Now I’m like, “Hey, it’s my stuff in there!” Which is cool. But it’s also way harder than I thought it was going to be. And I already sort of knew it would be harder than I thought. Some weeks sales are great, some weeks sales are meh. Some stuff flies off the shelves, other stuff ends up rotting in the corner and embarrassing me. And I have to keep it up! A lot! Browsing customers are equivalent to herds of wildebeests, basically.
We’ve talked before about the importance of branding and gave you some ideas for designing a logo on the cheap. In the next few weeks we’re publishing a short series of chats with vintage businesses about logo design. First up: Chad Spaulding, of First Born Vintage.