As this blog shows there are a plethora of awesome makers, designers and creators producing the most amazing products, and Lauren Williams of Lolo NYC is at the forefront of curating a space to celebrate them. Across the Atlantic ocean, Lauren is working away to showcase these collections of thoughtfully designed pieces by creating a tactile and immersive space for customers to enjoy. From ceramics, glassware and stationery to soap and rugs; Lolo NYC has it all!
Retail as an experience is so important, having worked in it myself for many years, nothing beats a well considered boutique and the act of actually touching and feeling products. Independent shops, such as, Lolo are under a severe amount of constant pressure to stay afloat and any support is essential, especially after the year we’ve had! If I find myself in NYC anytime soon (I 100% wish) I know where i’d be heading… straight to Lolo to get one of the face glasses by Tak Tak… I die.
See what the lovely Lauren has to say below…
1.Tell us about yourself and your brand/work.
My name is Lauren Williams Russett and I’m the founder of Lolo! I studied Apparel Design at RISD and worked as a women’s fashion designer in NYC for 8 years before founding Lolo. At least 2 of those years were spent planning Lolo secretly in my overworked noggin. Lolo is a Brooklyn based retail store (and soon-to-be coffeeshop!) replete with items for your home and your body. We focus on hand-made and thoughtfully designed pieces by emerging artists and designers. Nearly all of our inventory is by female identifying makers and/or majority women-owned businesses, but we welcome all folks and all genders to the roster and in the space. We are committed to continuously expanding the diversity of these makers.
2.What are your Inspirations?
I am constantly inspired by interiors, new and old, for color schemes, shapes, patterns, textures, etc. A part of me has always regretted studying fashion instead of interiors, but I do think that both worlds flow together.
In regards to general ideas, whether creative or business-wise, I always come up with something during a long run while my mind travels. Sometimes I run in silence, sometimes with a podcast. Both ways always produce some sort of idea that gets dropped into my notes app on my phone. Probably 70% of these ideas are complete shit, but yay to the other 30% and to exercise!
3.Lets chat about social media- a hindrance or help?
Oh man, I hate to say that my brand relies so much on an app owned by Facebook, but it really does right now! Instagram has been a huge help during Covid while my IRL shop is closed. I used to rely mostly on my in-store sales and I used to gain new customers by word of mouth in the neighborhood or through good ol’ strolling-down-the-block-discovery. But now that I temporarily have no IRL presence, I’ve really come to rely on connecting with people through social media. Instead of talking to customers face to face, I’ve been doing it through DM’s and emails. And in return, I have so many new international and out of state customers (and friends!). Instagram is also just a generally fabulous tool to discover new brands and like-minded artists. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a “potential vendors” folder in my instagram of tagged images I connect with 😉 What’s so great about having a multi brand shop is that I can essentially make a physical space out of saved images and surround myself and others with the work of brilliant, creative minds.
4.Where would you like your business to be in a few years and do you have any advice?
I’d love for my business to no longer be bootstrapped! Bootstrapped means everything the business makes right now is basically totally reinvested into the business. I’ve barely had the chance to take a salary for myself yet and am relying on savings. I plan on opening a new retail shop/coffee shop combo this Spring… a year behind schedule for various 2020 reasons. My goal is that the double source of revenue gets Lolo’s boots unstrapped, ha! Doing so would mean I could take more risks, pay people more, and buy more things for the shop!
My advice to other entrepreneurs, especially after these past several months, would be not to rush anything and to let cues from the universe pace you a bit. Covid slowed me down, but definitely for the better. Lolo had a weird sort of luck this year in the sense that my lease on my previous retail shop ended March 1st 2020… about 2 weeks before NYC went into lockdown. This released me from the rent of an unusable space. My agreement with the landlords at my new, future space is that I do not need to pay rent until construction is completed. If I had unnaturally rushed things, I may not be in this very lucky situation.
5.Who are your favourite small businesses or creatives doing interesting things?
Recently, I’ve been totally obsessed with everything I see Emma Kohlmann making. Those burnt wood frames around her paintings?! I gasped. Her show at Jack Hanley Gallery was stunning and created a little world full of detail that I would love to live in.