Thursday, October 23, 2008

Retail Therapy: Lealand Eve

Use promocode “hearthandmade” and
Receive a 15% off at Lealand Eve!!
Offer good thru 11/21/08

>> Think you're ready to open up a shop? Read on and find out what really goes on behind the register...

1. Name one thing that completely took you by surprise when you first opened up your shop - something that neither biz how-to books or any SCORE
workshop prepared you for. You mentioned that you had some unique challenges? Please share.

Our store is located on an extension of Main Street just two blocks east of the center of town. The road has the slightest curve, making our block hard to see from Main Street. Many shoppers do not make their way around the corner and turn around before they hit our block. This takes away from the awareness of our street and we're working with other businesses on our block to increase awareness of South Main Street. We're going to begin by holding a monthly First Friday event that will take place in the evening during the first Friday of every month. We're going to use this to engage the community using art, entertainment and free food. We're also going to place signs closer to the center of town telling shoppers what's ahead.

>> click here to continue reading about Lealand Eve

2. How long did it take you to set up the shop? Start from the day you said to yourself I'm opening a shop to the day your doors opened.

The idea came to us in mid-December of 2007. We immediately started working on a business plan, finding products that we wanted to carry and looking around for potential locations. We signed a lease in February and opened our doors on May 17th.

3. How did you come up with the name "Lealand Eve"?

Lealand Eve is my name, which comes from my grandfather, Leland, and my grandmother Evelyn.

4. Did you have retail experience prior to opening up your own shop? What compelled you to go into retail?

My husband works full time in advertising and I was a freelance illustrator - neither of us had any previous experience in retail. The illustration work I was getting became uninteresting and my personal work was drawing more attention - and was much more exiting to work on. A friend of mine suggested that I open a retail store - that would give me time to work on my fine art, have a way to show it and have a way to make a living as an artist.

1. Acorn Tealight Holder by Roost
2. Cupcakes Apron by Jessie Steele
3. Midsummer Light by Toord Boontje
4. Drinking Girls Letterpress Coasters by Papered Together
5. Bramble Bracelet by Alix Bluh
6. Hummingbird Tote by Saltbox
7. Fawn Set
8. Non-planner Date Book
9. Glass Deer Tray by Fringe Studio
10. Oyster Necklace by Sonya Bennett

5. Do you have a magical "buying" formula? Can you please share 3 things you've learned about buying and deciding how much inventory to purchase for the very first time?

The products that do well are usually something that both me and my husband both like. Products that only one of us like seem to be the ones that don't do as well. We always take price into consideration; most spur-of-the-moment purchases are under $40. At the same time, we also like to be aware of what other stores are carrying in town and what is available at Target. We want to be different and if we see a style of lamp in Target, we feel that it's already yesterdays style.

When it came time to order products to fill Lealand Eve Boutique we gave ourselves a budget of $20,000. One of the books we were reading said you can't open a store with less than $25k worth of merchandise, but we didn't want our store to be over-crowded. We were also using our wall space to hang artwork, so that was space that we didn't need to fill with products.

6. Owning a shop means constantly wearing different hats. Here's how they end up spending their time:

10% Buying
20% Marketing & Promo
20% Production & Operations (photos for site, hang-tags, display)
25% Customer Service
5% Fulfillment/Shipping
10% Accounting/Billing/Finances
10% Other (Art/Painting)

7. Some say that the best business partners complement each other's strengths and weaknesses. Can you show us how this works in your partnership?

Lealand: Focuses on the big picture
Nathan: Sees the big picture as smaller pieces that are easily obtainable

8. How is it working with your husband/wife? Most people advise against working with family. Could you give us some tips on how to make it work?

Working with my husband is nice. He's off at his full time job during the day, but meets me at the store during weekday evenings to help out. We both spend Saturday mornings together at the store. My mother also works for us part-time. I feel like we all share a similar vision for the store, which is why we all work well together.

>> So you think your goods are perfect for Lealand Eve?

9. Do most of the other designers you carry approach you, or do you actively seek out new designers/crafters? If so, where?

We're the ones who actively seek new designers and artists. The New York International Gift Fair introduced us to many lines. We look online at craft fair websites to look at vendor lists as well as Etsy. Since we opened, a few artists and manufacturers have sent us postcards and information, which we always look through and keep on file if it's something we think we'd like.

10. What is your process in choosing merchandise and what 3 things can artists do to stand out in your mind?

We always go back to our business plan where we describe what the store carries it's aesthetic. If a product fits the profile and is well priced, then we will consider it. We look for work from artists that cannot be easily reproduced by others. Many of the jewelry lines we carry feature custom metal work that makes each piece unique. It's these pieces that our customers really look at.

Once we decide to carry a line, we look at professionalism. We like a quick response to emails from artists and reps and we like it when orders can be fulfilled quickly.

11. If Oprah decided to give you $10,000 tax free for your business, but you had to spend it in one week, what would you do with it?

Its a hard decision, but I would increase inventory. It would be a great opportunity to try out some products that we were unsure about without having to worry about the risk of not being able to sell them.

12. We all have days when we throw up our hands and say "I can't do this anymore!" - what 3 things do you say to yourselves or do in order to snap out of it and persevere?

1. In the case of a bad day, we tell ourselves to focus on the month-to-month numbers.
2. We talk with other business owners in the neighborhood. They've been in it longer and give great advise.
3. We've been told by several people in town that it's all about the holiday's. We're really looking forward to November and December.


52 South Main Street
Sayville, NY 11782
Order by phone: (631) 750-2597

Thanks Lealand and Nathan!!


Melissa de la Fuente said...

I absolutely adore this shop and so wish I could visit in person....they have a great mixture of things and seem like absolute dolls! YAY!