Power of the Niche: Decor Stores
As a designer, it is common to wonder, “what makes for a successful interior designer?” This article examines the portfolios, stories, and reviews of successful designers to understand the power of the decor store niche and how designers are utilizing them to build their brand, establish their client base, and gain credibility.
It is hard for an interior designer to differentiate herself while offering typical interior design services for ordinary customers on average budgets. Part of developing a niche is to break through the perception of sameness and have unique offerings worth knowing. Niches demand good design in combination with other things. Whether it’s teaching, curating art, or blogging, it’s clear that having something extra to draw from can open many doors and unlock tremendous potential. Interestingly, designers who own décor stores seem to have hit upon something fruitful.
Having a store alongside a full-time interior design business is not an easy feat, and it comes with its own risks, the main one being the financial investment to secure space and merchandise. However, the benefits often outweigh the costs resulting in a differentiation that is otherwise difficult to achieve.
Why Open a Home Decor Store?
The most obvious advantage of having a retail store is the instant marketing that comes with it. Window shoppers need only walk by to get lured into the designer’s world of textures and colors, and thus the challenge to make new client connections diminishes quickly.
Walking into a decor store is a perfect opportunity for informal discussions to start between the staff and the customer. Often, those who enter as furniture or gift customers leave as interior design clients. It is important to note that both style and location will affect how the store reaches its target audience.
By setting up a store, the public face of a design firm becomes more than a website; it becomes a natural part of the surrounding community. More facetime with the public means closer connections with previous and future clients and a higher chance of referrals. Many interior design stores participate in neighborhood associations and charity events, making them an integral part of their surroundings.
Interior design relies a great deal on products, so a designer who owns a décor store can find many overlaps and advantages. Showcasing products is an easy first step in showcasing one’s design services.
The advantage of having a preselected stock of ready-to-use inventory helps both the client and the designer. The client can get an accurate idea of what they will be getting (and a first-hand look at the options), and the designer can often begin smaller projects without having to place orders. Both the client and the designer may see it as beneficial not to have a constant “hunt” – browsing multiple stores and suppliers to find suitable items.
Another critical issue to consider is that of space. A designer needs a studio for design work and for conducting consultations and design meetings. A store is a perfect place to do this.
Finally, there’s staffing. An interior design firm would benefit from having the extra personnel that comes along with a store. With extra hands available, everyday tasks such as answering calls, managing projects, and bookkeeping become much more manageable.
Here are two examples of successful home decor stores run by interior design studios:
Paloma Contreras’ Paloma & Co.
Interior Design blogger turned designer Paloma Contreras’ store Paloma and Co., is located in the heart of Houston’s River Oaks neighborhood and offers a host of options for the design enthusiast, including furniture, antiques, art, home decor, and fashion.
The store is next to Contreras’ design studio, which allows visitors to the store a chance to meet the designer. It also allows the designer to chat up visitors, pick out suitable objects, and inspire them to ask about her interior design services.
The store is located in the Matt Camron Creative Cottages, which gives visitors a feeling of being in a beautiful home and inspires them to design their homes to make them as attractive as the store. Contreras’ luxury designs have been curated in a way that is highly Instagram-worthy! This makes way for easy social media marketing as visitors click pictures and tag the designer and the design store on their photographs, creating wider visibility and higher chances of getting new clients.
Amy Peltier’s Peltier Home
Interior Designer Amy Peltier’s decor store called Peltier Home is located in the heart of South Pasadena. She shares that the store is like “an extension of her own house,” which means that each item in the store has been handpicked by the designer with as much love and care as she would for her own home.
The large windows outside display Amy’s choicest decor items, which attract passers-by to give the store a second look. Many customers have mentioned that the myriad options on offer make the store attractive and that the customer service that Amy’s team offers is incredible.
The store is a blend of California-cool with East Coast preppy, and includes everything from furniture to accessories, to upholstery, artwork, scented candles, and more. Apart from shelves stocked with interior decor items, parts of the store are also carefully decorated vignettes that resemble beautiful home interiors, letting visitors have a taste of how Amy can help transform their homes into “magazine-like” spaces!
Apart from the perks of having potential clients walking into your business, one of the advantages of having a decor store as a designer is that it makes your products trustworthy to customers. All your products are assumed to be “designer-approved,” so visitors to your store can shop without having to worry about quality. This, in turn, puts the onus on you, the designer, to make sure that your products are of high quality. So, if you are considering adding an exciting twist to your design business, give the decor store niche a thought! Either way, it is a win-win situation.
Have you ever considered starting a decor store alongside your interior design business? Have you done it? Would you say it’s a wise idea? What are your concerns about this? Please let us know in the comments below!