Gallery 65 on William / April

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I am pleased to report that sales are up this month!!! The energy was good at the meeting and there are good things to come.

We have some ‘hits’ to report…

1. The March Gallery event – “Pocket Full of Posies” was a big hit. In addition to increased traffic into the Gallery 65, 35 people attended the lecture and they sold 50 books by the artist Sally Mavor. The event was held at the same time as Surface Design downtown New Bedford, and it was a very good sales day. And, of course, the names of those not already in the database were added to the list.

2. A Ha! Night was also a good sales night. A Ha! is an arts and culture event that is held the second Thursday of every month in downtown New Bedford and galleries and retail stores stay open, restaurants and pubs all participate and there is always good music and fun to be had. As the weather warms, traffic picks up.

3. The monthly Gallery event schedule has been set through September and they are some very interesting events.

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We have some ‘near hits/near misses/neutral results’….

1. Still undecided about opening a small venue on the pier at the Ferry Terminal, although the majority is leaning to not doing it. While there are strong opinions for /against, the biggest obstacle is staffing the location. Many of the artists have another ‘summer’ venue of their own, and this would represent a third location for them to be responsible for. Unless we can find a way to overcome this, it might be the death knell for the initiative. The second obstacle is flat fee rent versus % of sales – the latter of which is what the landlord would prefer, and of course, not what they artists want to do. They will need to make a decision this month and we will return to this topic at the next meeting.

2. The artists have been cultivating their lists of other local artists and have been in contact with a few. No one new has been added, but the list grows and the conversation continues.

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And we have some ‘misses’….

1. While all agreed to post on Gallery 65 Facebook page, to ‘like’ the FB page, and to ‘share’ with their personal contacts – and ask them to ‘like’ the Gallery 65 Facebook page, only a couple did this. We spent a few minutes at the meeting showing those who hadn’t done it how to do it, and they agreed to take action before the next meeting.

2. No actions taken yet to cultivate interior designer business or professional/ corporate business.

For April and the next meeting….

1. The weeks of June 22 through July 6 will be very active in downtown New Bedford. The Charles W Morgan whaling ship that was built and launched out of New Bedford in the Golden Years will be returning to visit from its new home in Mystic, CT. In addition, there will be The Summerfest Folk Festival and the Cape Verdean Parade. The city is expecting 40,000 visitors during that time and the Gallery will be thinking of how to capitalize on all that traffic. We are considering doing something every day that is attention getting and revenue building.

2. Think about the Ferry Terminal – how to make it work and make it worthwhile?

As you can see, Gallery 65 is up against very similar issues of getting new business, keeping and expanding existing customers/clients, staying visible and relevant, and creating opportunities either as a single gallery or as part of a cultural/artistic community.

 The ‘cooperative’ business model is a challenging one. Although the agreement is that everyone participates in meetings, with events, in running the business, not everyone does, which is very frustrating for those who do. As an observer, it appears that there needs to be a renewed agreement with some structures for communicating that everyone uses, and what to do when inaction continues.

I welcome your questions and suggestions as you read this, and how you think this compares/contrasts to your business. Until next time – now go sell something!

Love, love, love,

Jody

Featured Designer (April 2014) Suzette Donleavy

When I met Suzette a few years ago in NYC, it was when she attended one of my presentations at the D+D Building during Design Week.  I am always moved by designers who choose to take advantage of an opportunity to gain more insight and information that would help them to grow their business, and Suzette was one of those designers.  She asked great questions and gave me an overview to her current situation and what she would like to do moving forward. We continued to keep in touch and in late 2013 Suzette and I began to work together to create new systems and structures for opportunities for her business, Well Designed Interiors.  It was been a pleasure to work with her – she’s enthusiastic, fun, innovative, highly coachable, a great brainstormer, a go-getter, and an elegant designer and entrepreneur who thinks like a builder.  I am happy to share her with you…..enjoy.

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1. What are the biggest changes you have seen to the industry and to your business in the last five years?

The economy coupled with the internet has shaped and ever changed the minds of the client over the past five years. Even the healthiest projects carefully consider the value of service and purchases.

While the technology has offered our clients growing access to shopping/pricing, “designing on a dime”, projects completed in a “week”, it also has offered the opportunity for tools to enhance business operations with efficiency and creative, digital technology.

With traditional furniture showrooms becoming scarce, the rising popularity of retailers like Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware, designers are challenged to educate the client of how to integrate these products while incorporating customized, detailed selections from to-the-trade product lines so to offer a unique product not produced for the masses. It is these details only designers can offer that cannot be “shopped”. Manufacturers are also offering designers competitive pricing structure to compete.

Relationships with architects, builders and other trade professionals are more important than ever to reach the target audience. Reinforcing the importance of ”design team” by an architect or builder to a trusted designer is a “win-win” to all but most importantly to the client.

Social Media follows as a strong second to the trade relationships as Houzz, Pinterest, Facebook, etc., have become a partner in the world of design.

A fresh approach to traditional design has also become a aesthetic force to reckoned with as well. As a designer steeped in traditional elements, I have recognized the modern influences that appeal especially to the younger generation of clients. Occasionally I seek the opinion of my savvy, young adult sons as a test audience!

Finally, I see the evolution of a sophisticated client who appreciates a knowledgeable professional who can offer a balance of these areas.

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2. What have you done in your business to respond to those changes–and how is that working for you?

It is an evolving process to respond to the changes. I continue to evaluate my service, client and professional relationships, product offerings, operations and use of technology to provide my clients and their projects a well-rounded, efficient yet personal firm while maintaining profitability. While the internet has offered instant gratification, the “hands on”, detailed approach of a designer is still valued by the client whether it is in a beautiful combination of fabrics in for a room, exquisite detail on a window treatment or the custom designed cabinetry that offers all the modern conveniences integrated with technology. This is where I continue to focus on separating myself from the impersonal world of the internet.

Jody offers the industry the unique opportunity to be objective when measuring the success of the intangible areas. I have engaged her to challenge me on how I am doing, use her as a check-point as she is able to offer insight from the industry at large with her business model and evaluate the goals for the future of my firm.

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3. What do you predict for the future of the interior design industry–and how can designers prepare for that?

As an industry, it is becoming more apparent to client and manufacturer alike, designers are the driving force behind as furniture showrooms disappear and the permanent presence of the internet. We must clearly define the value of our role to the prospective client to ensure success and continue to reinforce our significance. To do so we must continue to offer the best information, knowledge and options.

Continuing education on our part is key. Clients want the conveniences offered by technology. As design professionals, we are looked to for the understanding of how ever-changing technology has impacted the design of a home. Networking and partnering with carefully selected trade professionals who can deliver the design makes for a successful project.

While I haven’t attended Market over the past few years, Jody echoed my recent observation from afar. There has been a shift from focusing on furniture showrooms to the designers. I plan to get back to the routine of attending Market to round out my ability to be proactive and offer the unique product introductions to my client.

It is an exciting, challenging time to be a designer if we selectively embrace what is available to make our brand distinct. 

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Well Designed Interiors

732.758.9090 | 732.758.0660
119 East River Road
Rumson, NJ 07760 
info@welldesignedinteriors.com

Gallery 65 on William / March

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In February I shared with you that I had a meeting with Gallery 65 on William in downtown New Bedford, Massachusetts. I donated a business consultation to the New Bedford Beautiful committee for the winning business storefront in their “Deck the Door” holiday decorating contest…and they were the winner!

Gallery 65 on William is a cooperative of artists, who like many cooperatives and artists, struggle with some of the business challenges facing them.  I was struck by the similarities that interior designers and retail businesses that I work with share….and I thought it might be of interest to you, the designer and small business owner, to see some of the structures and content of business development goals and actions that take place over time and the results they produce. So in the spirit of full disclosure, I am working pro bono with Gallery 65 on William for 2014 and in exchange I will share with you the goals and actions that we create to increase performance, revenues, and visibility this year and how we do it. I will share successes and misses with you so that you can see for yourself what might work or not work for you.

Background: There are currently 10 artists who share the responsibility of staffing the Gallery, display their work, create ways to attract new business, and participate in the revenues collected for sold artwork.

Format: For this initiative, I have a meeting with the artists on the first Monday of each month from 10-12. It follows their internal meeting from 9-10.   I take notes (as does Laurie Bullard) and we compare and combine them and send them to the artists, as there are take away actions for the month. 

At this recent meeting, we discussed how to manage the marketing actions so that they are shared and don’t fall to a few ….as well as possibly finding an art/marketing major at UMass Dartmouth as an intern to be responsible for some of the marketing and social media actions.

Goals: We have limited the goals to 5 that are most pressing for this year. I have encouraged them to aim higher than they have aimed in the past, as it will influence the strategies and actions that they take. For example, if the goal is to ‘break even’ the actions will be very different from the goal to ‘increase business by 50% over last year’.

1.  Increase revenue to $X. We established a revenue goal that was greater than 25% increase over 2013. 

     a. Sell more high end product

     b. Have monthly Gallery shows

     c. Sell art to downtown and local professionals

2. Increase artist members to 15

     a. 3-4 jewelry designers

     b. Artists to consider their collective and individual contact list of artists and who to invite.

3. Attract designers and decorators to shop/source/recommend Gallery 65

     a. Create database of local and regional designers (by May 1)

4. Set up Spring/Summer booth at Ferry Terminal

     a. Determine rent/costs

     b. Decide how the numbers and staffing work

     c. Identify product for booth: small, higher end hostess gifts, big ticket items. 

5. Increase traffic

     a. In store

     b. To website

     c. To Facebook page

 For social medial / marketing actions for March, each artist has agreed to:

1.    Post on Gallery 65 FB page
2.      ‘Like’ FB page
3.    To ‘share’ FB page with their personal contacts

For next meeting: Put dates and additional actions on the above goals and strategies.

This is just the beginning.  We have a lot to do over the next several months to grow traffic and visibility, to increase sales with every traffic opportunity, and to increase average sale with every sales transaction but, one thing at a time.   We are fortunate to have a group of dedicated professionals who are seasoned artists and yet open to learning and doing new things that will have them attain their goals for the year. I hope you enjoy this and welcome your thoughts and input along the way.

 

Now go sell something!

Love, Jody