Thursday, May 8, 2008

Retail Therapy: IDOM

1. Can you tell us a little about IDOM and how it all began?
I stared IDOM because I wanted to focus on designing what I really love. I used to design for other fashion houses in New York City. Working for a big company, one has to jump through so many hoops and navigate around the office politics. It was taking the joy out of what I really wanted to do, which was the actual process of designing beautiful clothing.

Bestsellers: The IDOM (Modi's own line) collection usually does the best in the shop. Demimonde from Rachael Donaldson who is a Portland jewelry designer does amazingly well. We can’t keep her pieces in stock. We definitely have a big following for her work. Our hand-loomed cotton and silk scarves do great as well.

I also did not want to be part of mass-market sweatshop production anymore. I am now able to employ 10 homemakers back in Bangkok, so these women can stay home with their families and still earn a good income. I also want to do my part to preserve the Thai textile industry. Many of my fabrics are one-of-a-kind hand loomed silks and cottons, and the money goes straight to the textile makers. I hope that these amazing weavers and tailors can stay put in their own region and pass on these amazing skills to the next generation.

>> continue reading and get Modi's tips on how to get shop owners to notice you + things to consider before opening your own shop

Things to consider if you're thinking of taking the leap...

2. What's the best lesson that you've learned so far in owning your own business that you can pass on to our readers?

I am learning that my own personal favorites are not always what sell the best. The things that I truly love would sometimes just sit there, while pieces that were not quite as exciting would sell like hot cakes. I suppose I need to balance my love for interesting designs with the commercial end of it. At the end of the day, I still need to pay the rent.

Being a small business owner is full of daily challenges. Sometimes you think that you have done your homework, and then things happen that are out of your hands. We had a break-in on New Year’s Eve which was horrible and awful! Yet you just have to keep on going and hope for the best. I think that I have become a really good problem solver!

Another thing I did not anticipate was that the long winter rainy season here would keep so many people indoors. Coming from NY, so few of us had cars that we were constantly walking around the city. I figured Portlanders were a very hardy group of people, rain or shine, so I did not account for weather as an issue.

I do love my work, but I still need to find some sort of balance to also have fun. I also can’t freak out about little things or big things for that matter.

3. How has owning a business changed your life?

Oh my goodness it changed everything! I am constantly working and thinking about the business. I realized that time is something that I don’t have enough of… I barely get to see my husband and my friends. I have to try to figure out a way to spend time with him and have more fun in my life. I do love my work, but I still need to find some sort of balance to also have fun. I also can’t freak out about little things or big things for that matter. I have leaned that everyday is an opportunity to learn something new. As I mentioned before that I have become a better problem solver. I also have to remind myself to breath and to slow down. It turned my life up side down!

4. What's the biggest misconception that people have about owning a shop?

People love the idea of being their own boss. You could work less and play more and that you can make lots of money quickly. Many have said to me that it must be amazing to just design and hang out in the shop all day. Owning your own business has many benefits. If you are passionate of what you are doing. Then it is such a privileged to do what you love everyday.

The daily routines of owning your own business is overwhelming. I am an everything girl. I’m a designer, a sale person, a marketing department, a PR firm, a photographer, a web maintenance person, and of course a janitor and much more.

However, the financial risk is so much higher than working for someone else. Most of the time small business will fail within one or two years. It is very difficult to make any profit your first three years. You are lucky if you made it through your first year. I still haven’t paid myself after nine months of business. The daily routines of owning your own business is overwhelming. I am an everything girl. I’m a designer, a sale person, a marketing department, a PR firm, a photographer, a web maintenance person, and of course a janitor and much more. Life could be pretty daunting and lonely sometime. I still have many sleepless nights where I’m thinking about numbers and if I’m going to make it. I try to take some days off. Yet I would end up working from home or run errands for the business. It is a very challenging and a very hard work.

5. IDOM has received a good amount of love from the press. Do you have any marketing and promotion tips for aspiring and shop owners?

I think that sending out a short written bio along with visual material worked quite well for IDOM. Most editors do not have time to read through a long press kit. However, good photos will grab their attention. The best policy is to keep things simple and most importantly invest in good photography for your products. Also know your product of where they might fit best for certain publications.

I also do many special events such as art opening at the shop. I have different artists showing their work for each month. Other boutique owners and I have done special events together for various occasions. Sending out e-mail blast from my customer mailing list worked very well. It is great way to let people know about sales, special events, and new products. It is a great reminder for people to think of your shop and your work.

Modi is constantly looking for interesting collections and new innovative designs. She receives lots of e-mails for products and daily walk-ins from crafters. So what can you do to get her attention?

The top three things that I’m always looking for are design, construction, and presentation.

I am attracted to something unique and things that I haven’t really seen in the market before. Good design with well made construction is so important.

2. I pay close attention to details and quality of material and how they were made. Will these great pieces last for a long time and will it be a good investment? Quality is everything!

3. Another element is presentation. It is very interesting to hear story of designers or crafters. Who they are and what inspired them to create. It makes the clothes or whatever the objects more precious and more interesting.

Good clear prices and line sheets and delivery time line are very helpful as well. It allows me to see that these artists are serious about their business and took time to be organized. Often time many crafters just come through the door. They haven’t done their research weather their work will work well with a shop aesthetic. The way they presented their pieces are sometime unprofessional.

It would help if they would shoot me an email first with photos and make an appointment with me. I have limited amount of time to get things done daily.

IDOM also carries other hard to find indie labels from around the globe. IRO from Paris, Aoyama Itchome from Tokyo/Paris, Baum Und Pferdgarten from Copenhagen, Rassta from Madrid, Plastic Island from LA, Dolce Vita from NY, and Jenny Yuen handbags from NY. We also carry jewelry, handbags, small home d├ęcor items, and toys.

Thanks Modi!!


Melissa de la Fuente said...

Wonderful! I love those big earrings front and center, I wonder who made those? Great find Marichelle!

Marichelle said...

Thanks Melissa, I believe those are actually necklaces by MODI herself. They're called "Jessie" and can be purchased here

Melissa de la Fuente said...

Ooh! Thank you sweet Marichelle! Those are gorgeous and a very good price too!

sulu-design said...

I'm so glad that you posted a feature here on Modi. I work down the street from Idom and love to pop in to admire the gorgeous pieces in her shop as well as to chat with Modi, who is one of the friendliest, hardest working ladies ever. Thanks for a deeper look into her shop!

Marichelle said...

hi Susan! You're welcome and I'm so jealous! It must look 100x better in person. Modi's shop looks amazing in pictures!