The business of pop-up is currently huge and offers many small businesses an opportunity to feature their product and reach a niche market that is almost guaranteed to align. Without a need to commit to an annual rental agreement for retail space, a pop-up store is the best way to connect with your consumer and showcase product.
Today we’re featuring Dechel Mckillian, the founder of a brick and mortar pop up, GALERIE.LA – a premier destination for conscious women who enjoy fashion, to talk to us a little about the business of pop up and why should a start up go down this path. Founded in 2015 by Dechel who is a celebrity stylist with the mission to bring socially conscious fashion to the masses. Dechel thoughtfully curates the finest selection of women’s sustainable fashion and lifestyle goods both online and in-store at GALERIE.LA’s flagship location at one of LA’s premier retail destinations, ROW DTLA.
Dechel’s clients include Drake, Nicki Minaj, Fergie, and Lionel Richie. After traveling the world with music artists like the Black Eyed Peas and Lil Wayne, Dechel saw first hand the negative impact fashion has on our people and planet. Dechel brings over a decade of fashion industry experience to GALERIE.LA and has worked with the world’s biggest retailers including: GOOP, Clare V, Steven Alan, and TopShop.
Realizing the gap between sustainable fashion and her experiences in lifestyle and entertainment, she launched GALERIE.LA to present a tightly curated selection of brands with a shared philosophy.
Dechel is passionate about linking cutting-edge movements in urban culture, entertainment, and music with the possibilities of sustainable design and fashion. We had a fun Q&A with her where she talks about the gallery, pop-up stores, and how the consumer demands have changed over the years.
When did you start your pop-up gallery business and what inspired you to start it?
GALERIE.LA launched its first retail concept in January 2018 at ROW DTLA. We opened our store to do retail differently! We change store moments like a gallery, introducing Los Angeles to a diverse group of contemporary brands from all around. GALERIE.LA is equal parts store, event space and community center. We host exclusive dinners, workshops, screenings and panel discussions with one ultimate goal: bringing people together. We showcase our selections in a gallery-like setting for optimal exploration of space and design. Our care-free environment invites people to hang out on cozy sofas and co-work with free wi-fi. The interior is designed to capture visitors’ attention with pops of color and artwork made for Instagrammable store moments.
At what point did you notice a change in consumer demand for pop-up vs. permanent retail stores for brands?
The rise of online shopping over the last 5-10 years has increased the demand for pop-ups. As more and more people move to shop online there has been a decline in brands opening up permanent retail shops. The pop-up is the preferred model to give customers an experience of a brand for a temporary time. They can mobilize their marketing budget on digital advertising rather than real estate, sales associate payroll, etc.
What’s the benefit of a pop-up store for brands?
Digitally native brands benefit from pop-ups to get in front of their customers who are often loyal online shoppers or will discover the brand and fall in love. At GALERIE.LA, we see that customers buy more when they’re meeting the designer or team behind the brand. Although there is a growing number of people who prefer shopping online, there are still those who still want to see, touch and feel the clothing in a retail store setting.
GALERIE.LA hosts all sustainable brands that are using innovative eco-friendly materials that feel amazing and you would never know that by looking online. It’s hard to convey just how soft and comfortable some fabrics feel in a photo and I think that’s the main benefit for brands to participate in pop-ups.
Why are consumers attracted to the pop-up idea and culture?
Many direct to consumer brands are online-only, they don’t have retail stores or wholesale their products to other retailers. Consumers are attracted to pop-ups because don’t happen very often and they’re temporary. It creates an urgency for the customer to experience the brand in real life. Many brands that have great followings have people show up and buy much more than they would online because they feel like they’re part of the brand. Brands who do pop-ups right are often showcasing their creativity with special buildouts that reflect the brand, Instagrammable moments and a special takeaway like a gift bag. Pop-ups create enthusiasm around the brand and build a community which many shoppers want.
How long are the contracts for pop-up stores?
At GALERIE.LA, we host brands for both short and long term pop-ups up to 30 days. Most of the brands we host sign up for a few days or a week.
Do you have to be a start-up to be a part of a pop-up? What about larger brands, can they join the store?
No, you don’t have to be a start-up to pop-up at GALERIE.LA. We have a sustainable concept and welcome brands of all sizes to create an in-store experience as long as it falls in line with our philosophy.
How has consumer demand changed over the years from flagship stores to dept stores, online and now pop-up?
Before department stores were the only way to buy from your favorite designer or luxury brand. You had to go to Bloomingdales or Barney’s for exclusive pieces and collections because they weren’t available anywhere else. Then many brands and department stores went online and you could buy from anywhere which made customers more price-conscious (i.e. looking for the best deal online). E-commerce created an an explosion of digital marketing with social media, google ads and paid sponsorships with bloggers and influencers which drove many consumers to shop online through the brand’s own sales channels. Brands no longer need to rely on the department store because they were reaching their customers and sharing their own stories in a way department stores couldn’t do. However, many brands still realize the importance of reaching their customers and creating physical shopping experiences which is why pop-up culture is popular now.
Pop-ups generate buzz from press and user-generated content from people just coming into a store which ultimately creates more brand awareness and sales.Dechel Mckillian
What experience does the pop-up store offer the brand?
At GALERIE.LA we offer the space for the brands to create their own shop-in-shop experience to reach our customers and the overall demographic of Los Angelenos who are visiting ROW DTLA. We list pop-ups on the GALERIE.LA website, share with our followers through social media and press outreach. Before the pop-up, we partner with brands for special promotions and giveaways to drive traffic to the pop-up.
What brands do you personally recommend, that you enjoy using?
I’m thoughtfully hand-selecting each of the brands and styles I carry at GALERIE.LA. They’re all my favorite. What I’m personally gravitating towards for myself is Back Beat Co, Cled jewelry and Earth Harbor skincare.