Not an opinion you expect to be expressed at a Pop-up networking event, but this was the gut feeling of Dezeen founder Marcus Fairs at the 'We Are Pop-up' meet-up on a cold and frosty Monday evening in East London...
The setting was Modern Jago just off Arnos Circus, with a crowd formed of a mix of seasoned pop-up-ists, fresh faces first-timers, and an army of supporters of the cause. 'We Are Pop-up' our hosts, have grown quite a following in a relatively short space of time, bringing a close knit community and creative hub to not only London, but also across the pond.
Monday evening was a great opportunity for pop-up or pilot store lovers to get inspired for 2013 with the evenings speakers.
Marcus Fairs spoke about his online presence and how Dezeen was able to translate into a successful offline, physical offer as well.
The origins of Dezeen, the classic design blog, relied heavily on advertisers to fund their work with the majority of content free to all. With the idea of branching out into retail always being on the to-do list, the Watch Store was born.
The idea to start with small, manageable products was key and to set themselves apart, by approaching individual designers and graduates, from London to Hong Kong.
'...The key was to find a product that you couldn't find in Selfridges or at an airport...'
On-line was the natural starting point, with exhibition stands to test out the market. The surprise for them was how quickly the pieces sold.
'... Trade fairs historically are for prototypes, for retailers to place orders for newly launched products, no one actually sells anything...the thing is, we sold a lot!'
With its solid foundations as one of the leading on-line design resources, and with its first publication hot off the press, Dezeen opened its first pop-up. Never a fan of the term pop-up, they branded the store as 'The Temporium.' Although a creative endeavour, it was still very much business focused. Combining their own pieces with smaller spaces that were able to sub-let to individual brands and designers.
Having tested out several areas in London, it was clear that location, and a strong customer base was key.
'..Shoreditch is a great place, full of creativity, but no one really spends money there...'
Striking up a solid relationship with Seven Dials in the heart of London has been key in maintaining their retail offer. The Dezeen Superstore allowed them to experiment with different product, and it was the first time they brought in a retail consultant to over-see the process.
What was evident as Marcus spoke, was the fact that even though he had the strength of his brand behind him, there was still the need and desire to experiment, make mistakes, to evolve the retail offer, be playful, but most of all be passionate, and certainly for us, this was inspiration in abundance for 2013...