It’s that time of year again. Several months before the holiday season, shop owners all around the world are setting to work: stepping it up on production, making new items, dusting shelves, stocking up packaging materials, and getting ready for the hordes of shoppers.
I well remember this time period last year. I could hear the buzz around me, I could feel the vibration in the ground, of masses of feet stomping, rushing. I saw the news reports of the shopping season crowds, of long queues snaking on pavements, around street corners, of busy postal workers, stamping packages, moving them along.
I was ready. I was there in my shop, sitting at the counter, looking at the door. I was pacing around, tidying up insignificant bits and pieces, humming to myself cheerful tunes, my voice echoing in the empty room. IT didn’t happen for me last year. Nothing happened.
And now it’s that time of year again. This year I want to be ready again. Readier. Lucky a whole year went past and the disappointment faded long ago, the hope renewed.
There are 2 months of holiday season ahead.
In the past few months I have upped my game, acquiring some new “tools”. I have a lovely new DSLR camera ready, I have plenty of new artworks I’ve done over the summer, I have paints and inks, pencils, nibs and brushes, reserves of printer ink, and an assortment of papers at the ready. My creativity is constant and high, ideas abound.
I have been planning to go over my shop and refresh it any way. Take new item photos (did I mention I got a DSLR?), add new items, sort through existing ones, see which should go off the shelves and which need a makeover.
Of course, being me, I don’t just start with one item, but rather, I take a step back to reflect, to fine tune the direction I’m going in, rethink my shop as whole, before I get into the details.
This is actually the way I think projects should be done:
- Start with the brief: define client’s values, needs and desires (mine, in this case)
- Understand who the target audience is, what they are looking for, their needs and desires
- According to these 2 factors work your way down
So where is my shop heading this year? Where is my little business heading?
My shop is virtual, sitting on Etsy’s servers somewhere, but you can already tell I imagine it as a real shop. I want to give the online shop a cohesive look so it will feel more like a real space to anyone coming in.
In coming back to “designing” my shop, I think about my customers.
Last week I saw on my nephew’s face an expression I would like all my customers to have. I see it very vividly in my mind.
It was a look of wonderment. The kind you get when you see something you’ve never seen before, or suddenly see it in a new, different way. It’s that fraction of a second when your mind opens up to a new idea, a new notion, all of a sudden figures it out and instantly starts imagining possible new methods of utilizing it, and changing it. And in that fraction of a second the possibilities multiply like crazy, stacking up, flowing over and spreading in several directions at the same time. What is seen on the outside is the mouth opening up slightly, in a sort of gaping look, the eyes get a little out of focus, staring, yet a spark lights them up. It’s an exhilarating moment.
This is a close relation of what Prof. Robert Winston called “an original thought”, when the mind does 1+1 and reaches a new conclusion. (another family member is the A Ha! moment).
My vision for my business is to create things which will make people experience that moment of wonderment. To give them moral and/or educational value and to boost creativity.
I’m not quite there yet. At the moment many of my items have only aesthetic value. But I’m fine with that for now, and think it’s good to remember where I’m heading.
Visually, I imagine a square space, not too big, not too small, plenty of light, whitespace with lots of color on the shelves. I imagine a mat and some poufs in the center, and an orange sofa. Low round tables. A playground. I see kids taking things off the shelves, examining them and interacting with them in the playground. I see teenage girls huddled together talking simultaneaously, giggling over something they found at one corner, an enthusiastic yell escaping them once in a while. I see a mother with her child, busy with yet another item, a patient loving smile on her face. Another woman is leafing through a booklet.
So my audience is women and children. Mostly, it will be the women making the buying, with either themselves and their girlfriends in mind, or their children and family. It will be great to contribute to quality time – both the familial kind – parents-children, time with close friends, and time for oneself.
My items should:
- Evoke creativity, curiosity, thinking and ideas
- Have moral and educational value
- Lead to engaging playfulness
- Be aesthetically pleasing
I’m pleased with this vision, and can clearly see who my target audience is.
Now for the next stage: using these understandings to build the shop’s experience and its products.