Looking Ahead...

14 Apr 2016

This has been one of the busiest years of my life and, though I'm not complaining, we've been doing a lot of thinking on how to grow our company in the right direction while still staying sane.  Our baby, Gisele, has been all over the country with us for multiple magazine show houses and book signings and speaking engagements, we moved and started a renovation as my book launched this past fall, worked on a few photoshoots of our designed spaces, have made our parcel services available for slots in 2016, and are undertaking some our biggest design projects to date (not all are local so there's the travel).  

 

 

{The room we designed at Greystone Mansion for Luxe Magazine's Maison de Luxe, photo by Amy Bartlam) 

As we look forward, we're hoping to grow our company in a way that requires less of my WOman-hours on a daily basis but more conceptual, front-loaded work...  Things that I can put time into to come up with but that can function without a ton of my time once they're up and running.

 

{Our clients' living room styled as a garden room by my super-talented good friend Eddie Ross and shot by another crazy-talented close friend, photographer Helen Norman for this month's issue of Better Homes & Gardens Magazine, one of my favorite issues of the year- the April Garden issue! }

 

My textile line is the perfect example of this type of work- It takes me time to create the fabric, but then it's a very easy to order product/avenue that functions without me.

 

 

{LL Textiles' "Boho Stripe" in Antique Beige on the curtains in the living room of our last house}

On that note, we've finally decided to offer our fabrics in showrooms across the country.  I've waffled for years on this decision because I loved the idea of having it readily available for online purchase at the lowest price possible (I know it doesn't seem low but trust me, for Belgian linen with printing small quantities in the USA, it is) for the general public, but as we've assessed our yearly sales, we're able to see that the majority of our fabric orders are in actuality going to interior designers and so by not being in showrooms, we're really missing out on making our products available to the market who is buying them.   We've decided we need to cater to our market and make the fabrics as readily available to designers as possible and have the fabrics in select showrooms where they can be seen, touched (and hopefully, loved!!) in person by designers.  We'll be taking the process fairly slowly, but I'm thrilled to announce that Supply, a gorgeous new boutique fabric, leather, wallpaper, rug & furnishings showroom in Austin, Texas, will be our first showroom!!

{Supply-  I'm so excited!!! photo by Genevieve Garruppo}

We've made the really tough decision to move our studio from the Village in Great Falls, Virgina into the city (Washington, DC) this fall.  We absolutely love our studio and the Village community, but the majority of our clients are in the city, (and we also commute quite a ways ourselves to Great Falls) so we've decided to look in Georgetown for a new location.  This will streamline our schedule a bit so we're looking forward to that.  As we hunt for new spaces for the studio, we're playing with so many scenarios for the showroom...  do we change it to just a meeting space for clients (I work mostly from home and only go into the studio to present nowadays) with a small showroom or do we go all the way this time and hire sales associates to work in a retail store and have a boutique? When we first opened the Great Falls studio, I did a few weekend open houses and they were really successful but I quickly learned I would burn out working six days a week and not being around on Saturdays for the kids.  I know the ONLY way this could work for us & our family would be to hire sales associates but with that, of course, comes more risk.

 

{lol, my attempt at a "thoughtful" photo... One of our favorite spots on the Sound in Corolla, NC}

We've made the really tough decision to move our studio from the Village in Great Falls, Virgina into the city (Washington, DC) this fall. We absolutely love our studio and the Village community, but the majority of our clients are in the city, (and we also commute quite a ways ourselves to Great Falls) so we've decided to look in Georgetown for a new location. This will streamline our schedule a bit so we're looking forward to that. As we hunt for new spaces for the studio, we're playing with so many scenarios for the showroom... do we change it to just a meeting space for clients (I work mostly from home and only go into the studio to present nowadays) with a small showroom or do we go all the way this time and hire sales associates to work in a retail store and have a boutique? When we first opened the Great Falls studio, I did a few weekend open houses with them and they were really successful but I quickly learned I would burn out working six days a week and not being around on Saturdays for the kids and, even though it was fun, it wasn't worth it.. I also quickly learned that the location wasn't a major retail location so there wasn't enough daily traffic to justify hiring a full-time sales associate to work the showroom so we ended up keeping the showroom open to clients only because our staff didn't have the extra time to be able to handle walk-in traffic when it did randomly arrive. I know the ONLY way this could work for us & our family would be to hire sales associates but with that, of course, comes more risk. We'd have to go all the way with this one.

 

{Lauren Liess Textiles displayed in our Great Falls Studio}

 

I see what I'd be looking to create perfectly... I know exactly how I'd want it to look and feel and what pieces I'd want to sell. I've had product lines in my head for the past ten years that I'd love to explore. I love the idea of having all of our fabrics & wallpapers on display and creating a really unique retail experience in the DC area. It would be so exciting, exhilarating & creatively satisfying. Eeeeeek I love thinking about it!!! But I'm also aware of the blood, sweat, tears and level of responsibility that will need to go into it and need to think about how much steam we've got in us. The only way it could work for us would be to hire talented sales associates for the store, but I really fear all of the risk that such high overhead naturally brings with it, and I know it would by no means be something I could get running and wash my hands of in any way... but I wonder if day-to-day operations could eventually be out of my hands. This company feeds our family- my husband and I are partners in it- so there's nothing to fall back on.

We've got lots of time before making this decision so we'll be mulling it over as we look at new potential spaces, each one coming with its own set of scenarios.  One thing is for sure though, we're moving forward with products and I'm really excited about that.  I'll keep you posted as things progress.  Do any of you own stores or work in retail?  Have any of you been able to find any sense of "balance" (whatever that means?!! ;) in it?

 

 

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