Carnaby Street - our first UK store
We have a new home! Number 43 Carnaby Street is the first Spectrum retail store to open in the UK. OK so it's not 100% confirmed that the store is permanent yet, but we are officially at the address on Carnaby until the end of Feb '19 so it's home for now :)
We wanted to put together a blog post for you to give you an insight into how and why the store came about, and what work actually went on behind the scenes to bring you London's newest insta hot spot and most beautiful make-up brush store.
Of course it had to be pink!
Why open a shop?
Our website is just over 4.5 years young, and while having such a successful online presence is really amazing, we are always thinking of new ways to engage with our customers and social followers.
sometimes you just have to go with your gut.
For those who follow us on social media at the moment, we hope you enjoy how interactive we are, we always try our best to talk to customers and fans of the brand as much as we can and we thought a physical space would be the best way to compliment this.
We grew the brand online primarily though word of mouth, great online reviews, and really positive customer feedback, as well as really pretty instagram pics (we think our brushes are the worlds most instagrammable) and the formula really worked for us and is still the basis of how we grow the brand now. However we thought that the time was right to increase our visibility IRL, and the best way to really do this while engaging with new and returning customers was a physical presence, rather than lots of expensive billboards, online e-marketing, or even a TV advert, all of which we thought about for quite a long time.
In addition to the desire to engage on a different level with customers, what better way to really show off how good the brushes are than letting people be able to see and feel them in real life? If you haven't ever managed to feel a product, how do you really know how good it actually is? Because make-up and make-up brushes are such tactile things, we thought it would be great for would be and first time customers to be able to touch them before committing to a purchase.
The general reaction our make-up brushes get when someone touches them...
After deciding to actually get serious about opening a store, we only really had eyes for one destination, a street where we always visit when we're in London, Carnaby Street. Anyone who knows us and the brand would already know that we really are our own customer and we base every decision on what we believe our customers would want. If we would like it, in theory our customer would like it too, so that's why we opted for Carnaby Street. It's amazingly vibrant, it's pedestrianised and there's a really great selection of other cosmetics brands that call Carnaby street their home, so we thought we'd fit right in.
The Iconic Carnaby Street sign, which is just above our store front.
On top of these reasons, there's the fact that sometimes, it's nice to do something other than stare at your phone, right? We know the feeling of hours of endless scrolling, and we think that creating a physical space that's just as beautiful as our online space was a challenge that we really wanted to take on, and see what happens.....so we did!
How do you open a shop?
This is the more complicated part. Once we decided we wanted to be on Carnaby Street, we had to find out if there was a space for us there. We've never ventured into a physical retail space of our own, so it was a completely new world to us. On that basis, we decided to do what we always do, when we don't actually know what we're doing, and get on Google.
Our face when someone asks how you open up a shop...
You can Google just about anything, believe us we've done it. A couple of hours of online research later, and we had the contact details for the Carnaby estate agents, we'd sent them an introductory e-mail and effectively got the ball rolling.
Once we'd made initial contact, we had to wait a little while for a response, the team who manage the Carnaby Street estate also manage a huge amount of retail space in West London, which we weren't aware of initially. Once we did get a response everything started to fall into place.
We arranged a meeting with the estate team, and we had to prepare a brand presentation. We quickly realised that it wasn't just a case of whether we wanted to be on Carnaby Street, it's whether we were good enough to take a space there, again something that was new to us.
Thankfully when we met the team, they said that they really loved the brand and thought Spectrum was a good fit for Carnaby overall, complimenting the other brands who are on the street while also bringing something colourful and unique for shoppers visiting the area. The brand presentation was a success, it was just finding a space for us, as at the time when we met there wasn't anything available, all the units were occupied on a long term lease, apart from one, the one which we actually thought would be perfect for us, number 43.
The next thing we had to do was wait again, for a few months actually while the current tenants were deciding whether to take on a long term lease, or exit the unit. Luckily for us, they decided to do the latter, and we were given 6 weeks to put together a whole shop, staff, stock, tills, window displays....oh and a coffee shop upstairs too.
This was all part of our brand presentation, so we had to come through with something that was as good as we promised, except we wanted to make it better.
The main thing to nail was the coffee, we love drinking it, but we've never retailed it, so we got to contacting coffee suppliers in London. The same with vegan cupcakes which we also wanted to retail, we've got all the experience necessary in buying and eating them, but none in sourcing for wholesale or retailing them, but guess what, we googled it.
The rest on that part is history, as you may already know we have a super cute cafe on the 1st floor - yes that's right we have two floors - of the store, where customers are invited to sit, chill, re-charge their phone, and take plenty of selfies, while enjoying a vegan cupcake and a coffee or tea.
our 'insta cafe'
Luckily for us, we managed to get everything done fairly quickly, and as is the case with anything, you can do it if you believe you can - we are such strong advocates of self motivation and following your dreams - so we believed we could, and we did.
So what's next?
We're currently waiting to see if we can occupy the space for longer, yes that's right, not so much a pop up shop as a permanent home. For now we're keeping fingers crossed, but we're also firm believers that everything happens for a reason, and if it's not meant to be, we'll leave number 43 and set up a new home somewhere else, but we might have a break in between.
We definitely went over budget on what we thought we would spend on creating an insta and make-up brush heaven, we budgeted 25k which we thought was a lot, but actually spend nearly 40k....but hey, we don't do things by halves, and to have a shop that matched up to our online aesthetic, it had to be really beautiful, and we think it is.
Just look at it...
As well as being this pretty, we're really proud of our team in store, and happy to say that if you do visit, we're sure you'll be very well taken care of, whether it be the best 'girl boss' flat white, or getting the perfect shot for your insta, our wonderful team are there to help.
A few of our wonderful team members, Savannah, Georgia, and Lakkaya.
Well yes actually, since you ask! We're planning lots of amazing in store events, the first one being on September 13th which is just over a week away, that will be our first ever meet and greet :) it's a free (but ticketed) event where you can come and sit with us and enjoy a glass of bubbles while we talk all things make-up brushes, business, and generally about building and maintaining a brand that we're super proud of. Following that there will be a couple of new events every month for our customers and fans to enjoy, so we really hope we get to meet as many of you as possible.
Us looking not our best, just before opening the shop on the first day!
For now though, we hope you enjoy our new pink paradise! As always, keep an eye on socials for events details and all our updates, also feel free to send in any suggestions on how we can make the store even better, at the end of the day it's really all about the most important people, our customers and brand supporters, so as much as we love the shop, it's really for you guys.
And us looking a bit more glam (when we have time to actually put on make-up!)
Lots of love,
Sophie & Hannah x