Getting Inside the Mind of the Buyers
Now we have identified our stores, but as we know stores are a physical place, they can't make purchases, so what we're dealing with are we are dealing with the buyers on and as I mentioned before, this is really a relationship business it's about building relationships with buyers, it's about working with them because it is, you know, it's not so much transactional is you start to build those relationships over time, and you really want to work with buyers to have that great report. So what we're going to do now in this segment is we're goingto start to get inside the minds of buyers because part of your job is to help make their job easier, right? If we can help make a buyer's job easier, then they're gonna love us. They're going to think more highly of our product, hopefully it's going to sell a little better because they're gonna be talking it up to their customers. So most importantly, they're gonna want to buy from you because you make their job easier. They don't wanna have to s...
truggles to work with you. So in order to work with buyers and get inside the minds of, we need to start to think about who they are, what they do, what the challenges are what's. A regular day like for them because of course we think about ourselves we think I've got my product, I need to sell my product, I need to move my product and that is not what a buyer's thinking about their like, so I don't have traffic today am I making enough sales and beheading my goals? Man, this customer is a pain in the butt like they're thinking about all of these things, and the last thing they're probably thinking about is like, I got to go talk to lindsay cause I got about her product, right? That is not what they're thinking about, um, so we really want to kind of get inside their minds so we could help make their jobs easier, but I also want you remember that buyers do need you, they need product for their stores, right? That's their job, they have a store, they have to fill with products, they need something to sell, so don't feel like it has to be this adversarial relationship or that they're on a pedestal like they're up here and you're down here, you want to start to think about in terms of equals because you need each other, they need you, you need them and that's really important for us to understand is we all want to work together, but you don't have to fear buyers our buyers they're gonna come up in a few minutes are not scary doll I promise but I remember doing my first trade show and I was scared I was like none of these people are like they are asking me questions that I don't know and I was just really intimidated and I don't want you guys to be intimidated by buyers I really want you teo I understand that they're people and that you can work together it's also important to understand that buyers because they're people they don't always make rational decisions right? We want to know like how exactly do you decide how do you buy things but they're not making always the rational decision as we go on through these next couple of segments we're gonna start to talk about you know, selling your product with story selling your product with emotion and those are the same kinds of things they're going to resonate with a buyer they're not necessarily always gonna look at the cold hard facts because they're selling products to real people so they're going to think about that as well so I think at this point we're going to go ahead and bring up our two guests because what better way to get inside the minds of a buyer than to bring a couple of them up here so killing you so why don't you guys come on up here slide these out for you guys all right? So I wanna thank you both so much for being here, so I'm gonna give you guys a little introduction, and then I'm gonna let you talk a little bit more about what you are and gives a little backstory on your stores. So first, we have kelly, lynn jones and kelly runs little paper planes and it's your call it kind of galleries, you've got a residency going on. You've got a shop, all kinds of stuff going on in your store there on gazelle thousand. Sorry, really try hard to get your name right is the owner of rare device, which is another store here in san francisco, and you are we actually, I looked at your store's website in our last segment, so they're a little more familiar with you. So you know your lifestyle story, you carry a whole range of products, so why don't you can't go and just tell us a little bit more about your store. So my store I started online in two thousand for when the internet was a little bit different than how it is now, and so there was no etc and so I had just graduated from art school, and my friends and I were making stuff, and so it seemed kind of like it seemed kind of. Like a perfect thing to start selling online. And so, in those many years kind of a blur at this point on, I will be celebrated my tenth year business starting in december, and then I went to grad school in two thousand eight, and that was kind of when I start really focusing a lot on the business. And then when I got out that's, kind of when I started thinking about getting an actual storefront and I opened in last night, actually, and so I definitely do a lot of collaborations with artists. We do print editions every month, so it suddenly on the blurring line of artists and designers and so what's a functional object, what's an art object and having them have some sort of dialogue with one another. And so we do a lot of prints in publishing, but then we also have a residency, like she said, where we have artists or designers come in for four weeks at a time, and they get that space to do whatever they want for free on dso because it's a touch of the store it's really important that they have some sort of public aspect, so that it's really creating this conversation between the public and artists and yeah, I'm sure I can keep going e I won't pick your brain so much more about what's going on so I just wanted to tell us about a little more about ray device the right advice um I bought the business from rina tom and lisa congruent in february of two thousand eleven we moved after a year we moved the space to the current space on the visit vero and hayes um it's it's a design store give store but calling attic of stories not really this is describe it well, um and we also have a gallery space we rotate artists once a month um and we're kind of like other new location is kind of the neighborhood stories where people who live in the neighborhood by presence by cards um look at art and yeah it's been been a crazy right alright s oh, I would love to start off by having you tell us about your day today because not only you know your store owners you're also doing the buying us where a ton of hats s o go ahead and just give us a little bit. I know every day is a little different but maybe like what's a typical day in the store look like for you what do you thinking about? What do you doing so I usually wake up around seven on usually I'm sitting in my bed going through all of the e mails which there's a lot I have a few different e mails I have my personal which I hope no one ever gets ahold of it because it gets a little crazy and then I have all the orders email and then I have just the info at little paper planes, which is all the random stuff and then we have this submissions one so I have many emails to sort through and then five days a week we do block post so I make sure either I or my employees are doing a block post, so depending on if that's my day I have to do it on and then there is a variety of different things that I could be doing we also working a lot of different publishing projects that, like I was saying so I might be emailing with artist trying to get, you know, high res images or were also working on our clothing line right now and a card lines. So I'm also either making work because I also an artist in the designers, so I understand and relieve on the other end as well on dh then you know, I'll try toe go through all the bills they're so many bills when you when you have a brick and mortar, especially here in san francisco and I didn't say I'm on valencia between nineteenth and twentieth our rent is really high if we have employees we have to deal with payroll way of workers comp we have the guy I mean it's like never ending with the bills so I'll go through a lot of that if I have to pay some stuff as faras like, well, I'm looking through for product looking I usually designate certain days for that where I'm like, I'm going to just like look for stuff and then when I'm on instagram I'm always like looking for things as well on dh then if I'm working in the shop which I only worked two days a week I usually get in around eleven thirty and then you know, just clean and get things ready cleaning is a huge part of my everyday as much as I like, you know, just having a lot of white it's like a constant cleaning on dh then usually like so the store opens a twelve and throughout that day before I opened up the actual brick and mortar I was thinking, oh, it's going so great having all these magazines around, I'm just gonna hang out maybe I can make stuff on sitting in the store I also had a different idea of what it meant because obviously doing an online business versus the physical space is a very different thing and when you have a busy store, which thankfully we both do if you have no time to do anything because immediately people start coming in, sometimes people are just like the staring at you are back, you made and then I go wait and, you know, like throughout the day there's so much customer helping and, you know, when I was on the other end as faras being a designer and trying to get people teo, look at my stuff, I didn't realize I was like, but there just sitting in the store all day, but when you're dealing like your customer relationships are so important and we both have ah lot of like regulars where you're talking a lot like sometimes I'm like talking to one person for like, an hour it's just never ending talking and so, like, I feel like from twelve to seven it's like customer relationships, and I tell my employees like, if there's a downtime update the website, get vlog posts reach out to people, but otherwise customer always first so it's always like paying attention. Teo what's going on? Yeah, totally. Um and then when I close that's seven, then it takes about forty five minutes to close a lot of times for me cause I kind of a little slower and like to go over everything, and then when I get home, I usually I used to do a lot more work, but I'm actually been creating some boundaries so when I go home I've done but I used to do like twelve to fourteen hour days and now I've cut them down to a little bit shorter you can only be so hee and if you don't put the boundary on your give yourself a man just forget her like you and I think I learned that like a month so what does your day look like? Um okay, I mean kind of in a transition period right now because I have a three month old four months old she's four months today so in the beginning I used to be at the store for days a week working at the front um but now I have employees working at the front most of the time and we have a little a small office upstairs, so I'm usually they're working or at home from home um just like kelly, I wake up, I quickly check my e mail on my iphone quickly look at instagram um and then send kid off to school and all that stuff and then I get into the store we open at noon so I would get there sometimes eleven, eleven thirty or noon um and honestly, these days has just been going through all my else like I was showing my sister in law like, look, I didn't check my e mail all day friday and I had almost two hundred and she's like who emails I understand and I'm like, what do I even begin? I'm just going to answer that question because I was me, everybody everybody tells me, um, as far as paying bills, I do that once a week, usually on a monday get that done get go through the invoices, just like kelly said the bills I just gave my, um, bookkeeper our stack of invoices for, like, two weeks and I was like, well, and we're also I'm also opening a second store in a few weeks, so we've been buying a lot, so we have a lot um yeah it's just going through e mails and then it's just like talking to my employees and just setting up their day and making sure everybody knows what their day's gonna be like um, it's just a lot of that at the store in front whoever's working, they do a lot of receiving the inventory so your stuff would come in we could buy buy your stuff, they would come in, we have to put it into our system that takes up a lot of time, there's a lot of everyday we sweep and dust and then re merchandise and things around because you know, people come in and they touch everything and you have to like fix everything up because it needs to look good for everybody that comes in not just the first people who come in in the morning um and then I get home and I do all the bedtime dinner so my kids go to bed and I work from usually nine to like uh midnight or one o'clock because it's my only quiet time of when I'm not being disturbed by anybody so I need that to get anything done yeah, so clearly you guys have a lot going on in any in any given day so kind of thinking about that you know how much time do you spend looking for new product or you something you do really actively or is it something where you're kind of just like you mentioned looking at instagram? No, you're going to get those emails submissions but you know what air you're kind of strategies for that do you do you budget time? You have certain seasons where you're really actively looking for new product obviously just dealt with the new story you're a little more active right now so we talk about that um so my goal this year is to actually say let's just say wednesday wednesday is the day I would spend looking for stuff I mean it happens can consistently constantly but I wanna set aside time during the week to just look for in your stuff because sometimes it's like the last thing you do because there's all these other things that need to get done right away deeply um but I'm always looking every day and see when you're looking where you're looking um we get a lot of submissions so we go I go through that although I honestly it's hard to look at everything but for me I don't know what I want so I glance at it and that knowing me did leave I wanna keep looking at it and keep finding out more about it or I don't like it this is just not the right fit for the store I also use pinterest and instagram instagram is there's just so much like once you start following these people they follow the people they post about all the things it's it's awesome so be active on that um I'm gonna say instagram definitely it's just I think when you're so busy it's really hard to sit on the computer and just look at stuff that at any moment I could just be like looking like this and then I stream shot things and so I just have to save all sorts of things I usually try to set aside one day a week to do buying I also will come at sea sometimes it's a little daunting have you have weird strategy? Oh uh overwhelming it's I figured the people that I already like that selling at sea, I find their favorites because I feel like we might have similar aesthetics, I can't really do pinterest sometimes I do it, but also just like I'm just kind of hand can't can't do it and for I also know exactly usually what I'm looking for a lot of times I'll be in the store all day, okay, we have a lot of this, this and this this is missing this, like area of goods, maybe it's like men's something, so I'm on the hunt for that, like, I want to watch, I'm gonna look for watches, so I and, you know, even like if I'm getting submissions or I finding work that I really like like, well, I have so much of that category already that I can't, but I'll put it on hold um, it's funny because we were apart. Do you rember that facebook was not so long ago? Some or someone was someone on my facebook was ranting about how they're so sick of buyers asking to see a line shoot and then never responding on dh there everyone just kept going like, oh, I hate that I hate that and I was like, I think I have teo, but a lot of times when I do ask for a line sheep it's because I'm interested and I often try to say I'll get back to you if I'm in a place in order when a lot of times I just put it in a folder where I'm like, I want to get this, but I can't right now because again another thing we haven't talked about is our budget like e mean, I'm not like made out of hundreds of thousands of dollars so like I have to be realistic about the amount of money and sometimes I over by and when I over by, I'm screwed the next month and so it's like feeling because it's really easy to want to buy everything you're like I love it all quiet but you have to be reasonable a ce faras your budget and even if I love this one thing, I can't get it yet it's just not right right now. Yeah, actually I do have a google doc of where I put everything that I like and I have a radio on the google doc I have a rating of one to five so um so that I remember um and but I would see maybe like a ceramic line that I love and I'm just like this perfect like it's perfect for the store, but I can't get it because I have two minutes around so money, ceramic and there's no room in the store sometimes when you approach buyers and they don't get back to you right away or say we're not ready to buy right now don't get discouraged because it might just not be the right time it doesn't mean you go our stores are small I mean mine is a little bigger but still there's never enough room I mean mine six hundred square feet it is not a lot so and with the ceramic thing I mean there's so many people doing ceramics right now and it's all amazing and so I don't negotiate what to bring in what not going au just s so I have a problem so when you get those two missions you know, you you both get a lot of submissions so obviously just the aesthetic I like it I don't like it is a huge part of that what else influences you know, whether you're gonna least put someone on that list of maybe in the future for me um it has to be a little bit different than what I've seen I definitely am looking for something that isn't looking like everything else it's out there so if you already or having I feel like that's something that I don't like about that see a lot of times when I'm going through it it's like I just feel like one person and made this one thing that everybody's copping it and so I really find a rick all right, look for originality. Amend is practical things I try to figure out like where you located like how much is chipping in a colleague? I really yeah, so there's a lot of things and then you know, the story is really great I love like knowing look where people are from and like, how they're doing it what's their factory or non factories just them, you know, like I want to know about all the the story but the initials like yeah, I like it or don't. And then I have to kind of like, um and then to add to that it's also where you sold um are you sold in, like, already, like ten stores in san francisco? If so, I'm not going to carry you. Um and this is something that I really want to make sure everybody understands you make a product, it looks great, but you have to package it like packaging is such a big deal because I have to sell it. It needs to sit on my shelf. My customers need to understand what this is or at least like, be able to hold it or if if their gifts and we have to ship it, it needs to be ship herbal um, anya and the story behind I mean, both of our story's kind of you know, we focus on the designer and the makers in the artists that we want to know what's your story who makes it? How is it name so if you get a line sheet then and you're seeing a product that clearly needs some kind of packaging in the store but there's no indication of what that packaging is gonna look like that's gonna be a big red flag for you we're gonna like it. I like the product enough. I would ask how the package this house look on the show can you send a picture? Usually ask a lot of questions before I place an order like if I if it's not straightforward um and do you feel like if it was more straightforward? Do you sometimes wish like I just wish it was all in the line? She and I didn't ask so many questions or do you feel like people are are missing? So what are those really common questions that you always in a bath often and of asking people before you place that order before you end it placing an order? Um like what are the things that people are just missing in the information they sent to you besides packaging says we know that one's probably missing sometimes um sometimes the prices the whole field terms are not clear right um pricing sometimes is not clear images need to be really good on the cattle suggested retail is good too, especially having clothing that mark ups always weird on that but some people don't do that mark up and then I'll find that ours is selling cheaper because I didn't know that the retail was so pricing is always really important but the good photos I mean yes, because that's all you were you know well, I'd love to see everything first before carrying but that's not possible so your photography is definitely key. Yeah, so you guys shopping trade shows at all? I know you both have crazy busy schedules, but for you isn't looking up that I went to nss last year I'm going that's the national stationery show clarify round, but it does in new york I went to the new york if show two, three years ago I haven't gone back at silver whelming this is the big show and then I might go to one this year I haven't decided which one yet, but rachel's are you know, especially if you're going to new york it's such a big like hall and I have kids throw everybody out, I have to bring everybody with me um and then it's just so it remind of so many and you're walking all day and yeah, it's hard to stand out, I say, but I do like I found a few good lines from new york of show that I some of them I still carry um so yeah, I definitely don't do trenches and I'm less interested because I'm really I'm more interested in carrying people that have just kind of started out and that's kind of what I've always been doing since I started online is the emerging artist designer and in someone that it's kind of like I'm discovering like we're helping each other kind of this like um however, I am going to be going to capsule in new york in september, so that will be my first time going to capsule I've been to the stationery show and I've been to the gift show but these were both as me on the office it and not as a buyer, so but I do think it's kind of overwhelming it's a lot so you mentioned telling on and you both have an online aspect as well where you sell products online so I know you actually started there you were online before you open the shop. So how much of that how much is that plan to your businesses that a huge parters of small part um and and why is it important? Why do you feel like you know you want to be there too? Um, you know, it's definitely been something I've been less less I'm focusing again on it right now, but during that whole first year I kind of had to really focus on the physical store, so it kind of felt like it lost a little love for me because because of everything that we have to do during the store hours, it's really tough but it's really important, I think it's good to have an online presence. I think both of us do a lot of social media because then we get to not just have the in person, you know relationships, but we get teo connect with people all over the world with that said, not everything in the store is online because it's just impossible work to get this thing online. Yeah, photography, that description and shipping day is never fun. You'd rather sell in the store, huh? Yeah. E yeah e actually really like having an actual storefront versus online, but I think it's really important to have both we actually I redesigned the website last year um and I think it's important because I feel like even people who are local, they shop your web site first and see what is this store about? Like what? What can I find there and people would sometimes coming like I started on your website you have it here um and also I feel like it it gives us legitimacy when we're buying and when I'm approaching people who are selling things I'm like look at our website to kind of get a feel for what we are so it gives us that that's treat credit well on and then so we were written up on a blogger in france for this like little clip light that we carry and so we got like thirty forty orders of that amazing no, it was a lot of dough where I'm like, I need to buy more of that thing with this current it was featured in this magazine in new zealand yeah, and so I think and which is really great to be able to help out all the artists and designers and get them press and whenever I'm approached by some sort of press I always been like, okay, we'll give them some love I should like, you know, give me seo yeah, and then it helps with press too, because, you know, you have the magazine editors blawg editors um going through and finding out who they can write about, and if you have a website and the products are there, then they will approach you and wanna feature you so just how you bought your store from rina and lisa so you were coming into something that already existed? How much did you change when you took over off the store in the beginning honestly, I kept it pretty the same because I didn't know um when I started I expanded the kids section and I also added like food gift e food items um but then after that after I've kind of settled in and and did my thing we moved to a new location so I feel like moving to the new location change the store a lot um also it's a different neighborhood different audience, different people all right, so in a minute we're gonna turn it over to both our studio audience and our online audience but I have one more question for you guys before we start taking their questions, which is what are some of the things that artists and designers do that frustrate you like what? Whether it's submissions or whatever what drives you crazy wait just talked about the oh I would say the worst thing is you would email me and say, hey, I have this product I really feel it would be good great would restore and in the e mail you attach like ten images that are so big and it was like I'm not going to look at them put him in the line she or at least give me a link to your website where you have your product on their way don't attach images because I might my smi e mail space is so small it deleted and I agree with that mainly, I don't like when people don't read constructions on our website, it clearly states what to dio for submissions, and it says in the subject line, right submissions, please do this this and this it says if you are giving images, make sure that they're like a certain sighs, you know, on dh only a quarter of the people that sense emissions do that usually it's like no subject hey, check this out, or, um and I also write, please make sure to take a look at our website or our store to see if our aesthetic is the sink it matches, because I think that's also as a designer artists, you really have tio be honest with yourself, like just because you like that store, is it really the right fit? And I think that that is the hardest thing for someone to come to terms with, and that doesn't mean that your work is bad or good, it just means not the right fit, it is what it is and another thing that I really, really hate is, uh, hate is a strong word, eyes is, uh, I'm you know, working it's busy it's in the store and mean as this one at this point, I kind of, like, disappear in the back, go tonto sample is online, employees could be oh, but is hey, I have this big bag like, hey, are you the buyer I have before? I even usually answer. I have this thing that they're like about to bring out and that's usually when I get a little curt, which I feel bad about it, I'm like, don't show me, don't tell me, I don't want to see, because I can't make a decision like that, you know, everything that I, when I'm picking out products, it's a really personal thing for me, and I want to really think about it, and I want to make it on the spot, and even if I'm when I go to capsule, I'm not gonna buy right there at the trade show, either, like I wantto go back, think about it and make the right decisions, and so when people do that often, they go, but I just haven't here, but just let me, and then they bring it out anyways, here's our card, this is the submissions, and, you know, I do get a lot of submissions, and I do glance, and we don't go through them all the time, but if it is the right fit, you will eventually get either e mailed or called or whatever, but just don't come in, especially during a busy I've had people come on a saturday, which is by far the busiest day ever. I'm already frazzled that, well, look like I work in a video. But it's, just it's, just not really respectful. It's, like, is if I came into your studio and your, like, tryingto work, where, if you're like doing clothing, you're like running around all the manufacturers, you know, like you just got to be respectful of. And plus, you lied out all in our counter customer, come teo, its source, the space, and I don't wanna be rude, but then I also like, uh, yeah, yeah, yeah, so I wasn't kidding when I said, don't do that, teo.