This is an interview with one of our clients, Kathryn Peck, who runs Mockingbird, a kids’ shop. Learn about starting up a brick and mortar shop and how having a professional store logo will help with everything else.
Interview with Kathryn of Mockingbird
A little background:
Mockingbird Baby & Maternity is located at 219 Main Street, in the heart of Charlestown, Mass., steps from Boston’s historic Freedom Trail. The shop, which opened in June 2014, is vintage-inspired, offering unique high-quality products for expectant moms, dads, and children—essential baby gear for urban parents, maternity clothes with a sense of style, sweet baby clothes, artisan-made nursery décor, eco-friendly toys and more. The shop also serves as a resource for the neighborhood’s families and first-time parents by offering free talks, informal meet-ups for moms, and story times for toddlers.
What did you learn about starting a brick and mortar shop?
Everyone told me the best way to learn the business of running a retail shop is to dive right in, and that’s essentially what I did. Sure, I read a few books like “The Everything Guide to Starting and Running a Retail Store” and even the “Retail Business Kit for Dummies,” which were helpful—up to a point. There’s no end to the amount of research and organization you can do to prepare for something like this, but eventually you have to trust your gut, open the doors, and see what happens.
I’ve only been open a few months, but some things I’ve already learned:
- Having a professionally designed logo and brand is worth every penny. I was unsure about the investment at first, but it defines your identity and expresses the character of your store. It also makes design projects, like signage and mailers, easier down the road.
- Leave some wiggle room in your business plan’s budget for some unexpected costs. There are many small fees that add up fast. The cost of a program that syncs your POS system with your accounting software, for instance; maintenance issues (like a flooded basement, which happened during my second week in business); and even paper towels and Windex add up fast.
- Be wary of clutter. Now I understand how some retailers can get trapped in the mindset that the more product you have out, the more you sell. But that’s not always true, and you run the risk of overwhelming your customer, particularly in the baby market where there is such a vast range of products available. I try very hard to keep my store well stocked with products I have used and recommend, but simple and clean looking, so as not to detract from the overall customer experience.
- Oh yea, one more—watch out for those seasonal shipments. It’s typically a whole lot of product that ships, and needs payment, at one time!
How many people currently work with you?
At the moment I have three part-time employees. We’re all juggling kids, school, and what’s left of a social life, so employment part time works well.
How does a standard day of running Mockingbird go?
When I can, I like to be in the store to meet my customers and answer questions. But it’s important to make time to focus on behind-the-scenes operations as well (i.e. inventory management, restocking, marketing, finances). We are typically open from 10 am – 6 pm and aside from working the cash register, I’ll also find myself demonstrating various stroller functions, showing the different ways to hold a baby in a Moby wrap, and even reading stories to children in the store. When one of my employees is the store with me, typically on weekends, which are busiest, I use that time to catch up on some of the behind-the-scenes tasks.
Then there are days that are less structured… a nursery school drop off followed by a few hours in the store with my youngest, followed by a nursery school pickup, lunch, and naps, followed by a few more hours in the store with both kids while we close up for the day. Then it’s dinner, baths, bedtime, followed by a few uninterrupted hours of time spent returning emails, social media updates, ordering updates, going over the day’s numbers, etc.
I am lucky to have some amazing women helping me in my store and flexible enough to work around each other’s schedules.
Every day is totally crazy in an amazing and gratifying way.
How are your customers responding to your branding? Is your target customer showing up in your shop?
Everyone has welcomed Mockingbird to the neighborhood with enthusiasm and support.
My customers love the branding. They love the logo, they love the storefront signage, and I’ve gotten many compliments on the name. The name, Mockingbird, lends itself well to a lot of cool graphic elements: feathers, nests and eggs, trees, leaves. The Aeolidia team that helped with my branding came up with a handful of really beautiful graphics that I’ve used on mailers, business cards, gift cards and stickers. In fact, a customer recently said that what she likes most about shopping at small boutiques is the beautiful wrapping, all of which starts with branding.
The Mockingbird store logo & brand
Kathryn wanted a soft and feminine, rustic and vintage logo for Mockingbird. A mark that would fit comfortably in her industrial meets shabby chic space. To elevate her brand, Christine steered away from the overly cutesy and toward the sophisticated. Her branding details empower Kathryn to complete simple graphic design projects on her own, with a solid base of options that help spark creativity while preventing mistakes and keeping everything she does cohesive.
I am so pleased with my experience working with the Aeolidia team. From the very beginning when I rattled off a handful of miscellaneous ideas without much direction to the very end when they presented me with a well-designed, beautiful logo and branding package, the process was seamless. They understood my vision and created the perfect logo that will be the face of my company. They also helped me determine next steps in terms of web design and e-commerce expansion. It was an exciting collaboration to be a part of, they were a pleasure to work with and I look forward to working with them again on the next phase of my project.
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