Sunday, July 12, 2015

Life With 'The Shop'

My apologies on being delinquent in posting more lately.  Since we had the soft launch in early May, we hosted a successful Grand Opening launch party.  I promise to share photos from that grand event soon.  In the meantime, I wanted to share a few photos from the shop itself.  In the last 2 months that we've been open, I've been trying to establish an idea of what customers are hoping for when they walk into the shop.

The local response has been overwhelming.  I'm amazed by the number of customers that have read this blog and are local!  I ask every customer that walks into the door how they heard about us and most people say from this blog or from instagram or Facebook!  The power of social media!

I have found that almost daily I am tweaking the displays within the store and constantly trying to optimize the way the products are displayed.

The benefit of a brick and mortar is that you can tell almost immediately what products are "staples" and extremely popular.  Some of the items literally fly off the shelves and have become extremely popular; for example, the Gurglepots!   They come in every color and they are great for water, lemonade or iced tea.  They're also great just sitting on a bookshelf for a flash of color or using as a vase with fresh flowers.

A few items are selling like molasses (uh, no I'm not about to share what those items are in case you happen to come into the shop and want to buy one of those items).   ha. 

This has been a dream come true but it is also a lot of work!  It's enjoyable and fulfilling but demanding!  I find myself constantly thinking about inventory, marketing, staging, staying unique and creative!   Yesterday, I was sitting at the pool placing orders for the holiday season.  I do love the flexibility in that I can be outdoors and still with family and 'working.'  No complaints, but my point is that I'm now always "on the clock."  My mind never shuts off from thinking about the business and the brand and continuing to make it great.  

Just recently, Vivid Hue Home was featured in New England Home Magazine's Summer 2015 publication for our urchin planters:

Under the Sea:  The Urchin Planters found at Vivid Hue Home get their organic shapes from spiky underwater creatures.  Farmington, 860-677-0301.

I was thrilled to be included  (and a big thank you to Lynda Simonton from NE Home Mag).  

Thank you to all of the wonderful customers that have already stopped in to support the shop. Thank you for all of my blog buddies that have made the trip from outside of Connecticut to stop by and say hello!  Your support has been tremendous!  Promise to post again soon.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Vivid Hue Home Gift Boutique Now Open

The Vivid Hue Home boutique gift shop opened it's doors in a soft launch to the public on April 30th, 2015.  It's located in the historical area of Farmington Connecticut (775 Farmington Ave- Rt 4).

Store Hours:  
Tuesday thru Thursday 10-6pm.  Saturday 11-4pm.  Closed Sunday + Monday
Phone: 860-677-0301

What do we sell? 
Everything from custom made pillows and furniture to unique gifts and greeting cards.  We have perfect items for dorm rooms, hostess gifts, house-warming, engagements, birthdays and "just because" gifts.  We carry whimsical and preppy products.  Our shop has a very nautical feel.  Visitors say they feel like they are in Palm Beach or Nantucket.  Despite our name and love for all things color, we do carry some neutral products for those that are a bit less daring about color!

We gift wrap and sell gift cards.

Currently, we do not have an online shop; however, if you notice a product via our Instagram or Facebook feed and you'd like for us to ship it to you...please ask!  We will ship!  

Initially, I had planned to open the doors with a huge Grand Opening Party.  But as the date and time got closer, I grew more and more nervous about this endeavor!  I had been fairly buttoned up with ordering inventory for the shop and storing it in my basement.  But I had put off some of the more significant business-related tasks (such as what would I use for my point of sale system).

I last left ya'll with the renovations inside the shop.  I promise to revisit more of that journey in a future post.  Here's a reminder of the transformation:

I decided to take some pressure off of myself by planning a "soft opening" where I would just open the doors to the public at the end of April with only word-of-mouth advertising.  I handed out postcards to friends and Connecticut locals, but other than that, there was no big fan fare.  This would allow me (and my team of two) to work out the kinks in the process.  We could practice the checkout process, work on better staging the products, and get an idea for what customers were interested in.

 I'd be lying if I told you this was a stress-free soft launch.  I woke up on the morning of April 30th with my stomach in my throat.  What if people absolutely hated the shop?  What if Connecticut wasn't ready for my splash of colorful gifts?

The soft-opening weekend was exhilarating, overwhelming, tiring, rewarding, exhausting, thrilling and every other similar synonym.  People did come to visit.  And they visited in droves.  Personal friends showed up.  People that have followed Vivid Hue Home through social media came to check it out.  Some saw the porch display and stopped to check out what we were up to.  

 I was overwhelmed with the number of you that have read my blog and knew about Vivid Hue Home through social media.  (One woman entered the shop,  made a beeline towards me and the first words out of her mouth were, "I want to know what you consider to be the armpit of Texas!?"  (Reference my about me section here).  

Opening Day Flowers for Soft Launch

Much of the initial inventory flew off the shelves during the first weekend and I would go home at the end of the night to place additional orders for back-up inventory.  I stayed up til 1-2am most nights trying to catch up on the paperwork and ordering.  (Now to be fair, customers seemed to like the products I was offering, but also, I started out with smaller inventory quantities because I wasn't sure what would sell or not).

Vivid Hue Home was featured in a few local spotlights, here and here.

Vivid Hue Home Window Boxes Starting to Bloom

We have been opened for about 2.5 weeks now and already I have learned some tricks.  For starters, I have doubled/tripled the size of my orders from vendors so that I don't have to place new orders as frequently.  It's cumbersome to issue PO's, enter skus into inventory, receive inventory, pay invoices.  So it makes since to do it once for larger quantities versus 2-3 times for smaller order amounts.

Also, I find myself continually tweaking the look of the shop.  When we opened, the shelves appeared like this:

I was never thrilled with how each shelf displayed so much inventory.  The shelves were cluttered and too much for the eyes to digest.   Recently, I modified the items so there are mostly clusters of pillows and throws.  It's a bit more visually pleasing and I imagine that I will continue to tweak.

The gurgles now have their own dedicated spot within the shop.

Custom pillows in these fabulous textiles have been the talk of the town.

And, of course, the vintage palm beach chairs are a popular resting spot among visitors.

 Next, I'm preparing for the official Grand Opening event at the shop for designers, trade and VIP customers in two weeks.  I'll continue to post the journey of the shop and also share some of the original topics I'd promised (opening a small business, working with the town for permits and approvals, selecting a POS system, hiring staff, etc).

Thanks for continuing to follow along!  If you're a new follower, thank you!  And you can always check out what's happening in real time on Instagram here.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Vivid Hue Home in local CT Feature

Farmington Small Business Spotlight: Vivid Hue Home

Our small business series shines a light on local business owners in the community.

Farmington Small Business Spotlight: Vivid Hue Home

Every local business has a story worth sharing with the community. And that’s the belief behind this exciting series — to shine the spotlight on all our favorite local businesses, and to learn a little about the ones we may not know that well. 

How did you come up with the name?
I started a popular design blog 3 years ago called,Vivid Hue Home. I believed that everyone could use a dose of color in their lives and I loved to mix patterns and colors in decorating. The blog ended up being a platform for the decorating projects in my own home located in Farmington, CT.

Why start a business in this town?
I am a Farmington resident and have wanted to bring a unique gift shop to our area. I wanted to create a destination that locals could visit frequently and always find something different and unique for their homes. One of the historical cottages became available along the row of buildings on Brick Walk Lane and I thought that would be a perfect spot for my type of gift shop. The boutique is located within walking distance from Miss Porter’s School, the Hillstead and the Stanley Whitman House.

What business are you in?
My gift shop offers stylish “must haves” for the home. Vivid Hue Home is the perfect destination for a hostess gift, greeting cards, dorm room d├ęcor, small home furnishings, pillows, art, tabletop accessories, colorful accessories and other gifts. I am also featuring a few brands of furniture that have never been offered in Connecticut. While I will provide staple items that you can always find, I want to always have rotating inventory so that when my customers come into the shop, they will always find something unique and different that they won’t see anywhere else.

What’s the most difficult challenge you’ve faced as a business owner?
So far there have not been any, other than all of the preparation involved with opening up a small, locally owned business.

What’s been your proudest achievement since opening?
We opened on May 1 and the feedback has been tremendously positive. Local residents have stopped in to check out our space and have said it reminds them of a gift shop they’d see in Palm Beach or on Martha’s Vineyard. Many customers come into the shop and make themselves comfortable on the sofa and vintage chairs and sit and socialize. I love the idea that we’re not only a gift shop but a local destination for the community.

How does your business give back to the community?
I hope to participate in local charities and offer a fun, unique destination for my customers.

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