Announcing the launch of one of our recent dream projects! The unstoppable Rena Tom found me in 2005 (yes, back when it was just me!), and the original Rare Device site was one of the earliest Aeolidia projects.
Rare Device History
Rare Device, in Rena’s words:
Rare Device began in 2005 as a tiny storefront at the south end of Park Slope, Brooklyn. My original goal was to make jewelry in the back and sell my work, and the work of my friends, in the front. It quickly gained notoriety for having unique, modern, well-crafted goods; impressing New Yorkers is not easy but we managed to make lots of friends, enjoyed great press and loyal customers.
I moved back to San Francisco in 2007 and opened a second, larger location with my friend Lisa Congdon. Under her guidance, we expanded the gallery offerings and held shows, pop-up shops, and other events every month until we sold the business in 2011. We showcased artists and designers like Kate Bingaman-Burt, Mike Monteiro, Jill Bliss, Mark Warren Jacques, Amy Ross, Betsy Walton, Poketo, Julia Rothman, Evan B. Harris, Amy Ruppel, Paul Octavious, Diem Chau, and Matte Stephens.
Giselle Gyalzen, the design-loving new owner of Rare Device got some peeping in her ear (from me, about redesigning), and to my great pleasure, we were able to get our paws back on Rare Device and make it ever so New! and Improved!
Meg Lewis on our team was the designer on this project, and it was so fun to be able to give her this project after a really busy winter with us. Meg said:
I feel like Rare Device is my spirit animal (of stores)! So, I’m basically getting to design a store that I would own. SO FUN!
Please take a look at Meg’s logo and website design for Rare Device, and enjoy this quick interview with Giselle.
Interview With Giselle of Rare Device
What made you decide it was time for a redesign? What was not working so well about the original site?
Our previous website is 8 years old! It was the first and only Rare Device website, the one that Rena and Arianne worked on together when Rare Device first opened in 2005. Having said that, the fact that it lasted 8 years and was still useful to us speaks volumes about how well-made it was. When I decided that it was time to have a new website, I thought that it was a great opportunity to create a new logo as well. I wanted our new logo to be clean, modern, but fun, which is what Rare Device is all about. Meg was wonderful to work with, BTW. She captured the spirit from the beginning and was able to translate it into a logo that I love.
What was it like to step into an already-popular business and how did you make it yours?
It was a little overwhelming at first. I also had a 5 month old at that time so I felt like I was going crazy for a little bit. I had to learn a lot and get used to our new lifestyle. But the rewards were great, Rare Device already had a loyal following at our previous brick and mortar space on Market Street and I got to meet them as my first few months of owning the store went by. Another perk was that within a few months of owning the business, we were contacted by various media outlets that Rena and Lisa already had an established relationship with.
I expanded the kids’ section and started carrying food items that are made in San Francisco; I also started carrying some new brands. A year after I took ownership, we decided to move our store to another neighborhood, which is where we are now. We love our new store front with its corner location, high ceilings, and it also gets so much light. We also love our new neighborhood; we’ve felt very welcomed here. After we got settled into our new space, I felt it was time to make the next big move for the business and do a re-brand and re-design of our website.
What advice would you give a business owner about starting a big project like this?
Before you start a project like this, make sure you know what you want first! Have a vision for your brand, do some research, and look around at other sites that you admire and take note of things that you like about their site. It’s not about copying but it’s about knowing what already works for others so that you don’t reinvent the wheel yourself. Also, if you have a website currently, make a list of things you want to improve on so that you don’t have the same problems on your new website. Make sure you also do some research about what platform you want to use for your e-commerce site. Aeolidia is very good about summarizing your options for you but make sure you dig in deeper so that whatever platform you use will for sure work for you. In our case, we decided to go with Shopify because it integrates with the POS system that we use in store, which will cut down the work for me and my staff significantly.
Logo and Web Design
Here’s a quick peek at the original Rare Device site, designed by Rena Tom in 2005:
Meg started with the logo, and then took that to design a site that not only sells products, but also puts on art shows. The home page features both aspects to Rare Device:
The category page includes icons that quickly show bits of information about products, such as if they’re handmade, local, or organic:
What do you think?
A big change from the original, right? We love how clean and open everything is, and the photos are just stunning! I think this site redesign should be a huge success and help to increase interest and sales, as well as be easy for people to blog about. Have you shopped Rare Device before, either in person or online?