Saturday, January 2, 2010

Looky Looky: LIV Part 2

LIZ: How important is creating a unique shopping experience for your customers through engaging all of their senses?

JOANNA: We had Au Lit for a few years, and we knew if we were going to open a second store it would be not just a linen store, we didn’t need to do the same thing twice. If we were going to do it, it would be the sort of store we had been seeing in Europe for years which did show a full lifestyle. One of our favourite stores is in Paris and it’s actually a house, and you go through it every room has things for sale, they don’t have clothing but they have loungewear. A store like LIV had been on our horizon for many years, so we knew if we were going to do this, the space had to be big, had to have the right vibe and this store with the wood floors and the high ceilings, it was just the perfect location and the perfect timing. But in terms of the layout we change the layout all the time, you can come back next season and it won’t have the same layout. We always change it to be exciting and current, and it will always be a fusion of clothing and home décor everywhere.

LIZ: Do you feel that there is anything lacking in retail shops these days?

JOANNA: Yes! For me it’s always about the experience, I just feel like in this day and age, not just because of the recession but also just because of the level retail has taken in Europe and New York and in LA. I don’t know if you are familiar with ABC carpets for instance in New York, but it’s one of the most astonishing retail spaces I’ve ever been to, maybe for me in the world... it’s my favourite, and the level of not just merchandising, product, but everything the whole experience is of such high calibre that for me it just doesn’t really cut it anymore to go into a generic store, be treated with indifference.

One of the biggest things for us was of course we wanted to create a beautiful space, but I so want everyone to have an experience. So for me I want the bathroom to be beautiful, my change rooms are stunning and they are quirky. My staff knows that the most important thing is the warmth and the vibe and the welcoming, and bending over backwards. There are so many stores in this city where the service is mediocre at best. You either feel like you’re being attacked or ignored and somewhere in the middle you have a great experience and beyond that for me I want LIV to be a store that you come in and feel good about yourself. We offer clients a latte or an espresso, when I say multisensory it’s not that you just walk in and say “pretty store” it’s that someone greets you, it smells nice, for me it’s that experience but that also the product is amazing. You have to have phenomenal products but that backed up with the experience, and I think you have something pretty amazing and that’s been the goal.

LIZ: What era are you heavily influenced by in home décor and in fashion?

JOANNA: Home décor, it’s hard to say era, but I would have to say influence would definitely be more country, and I think the Swedish influence has been huge on both Californian and French style so when we are buying from France and California, which are two key places we buy from, even though they come from France or California, it’s very Swedish, everything grey, all Swedish, the distressed, for me the influence is less an era. However I have to say I adore art deco, the 20’s.

For clothing it’s whatever’s hot, right now the 80’s are huge, and the leggings.

stay tuned for part 3...