The story behind Scalable Designs…
As Christmas 2018 rolled around, we got out the bulky box home to our increasingly bedraggled 12 year old artificial tree. It needed to change. A family debate sparked; what should we get next? A natural tree needs replacing each year, agitates allergies and inevitably ropes you into excessive hoovering to rid those pesky needles. Another artificial tree didn’t sit well with us either, as although lasting several years, these trees are shipping halfway around the world & comprising thousands of environmentally-unfriendly plastic components. And we’ve watched enough David Attenborough to know better!
After a quick Google, “alternative-style” trees were simply too “alternative”. Often taking on a more abstract shape that didn’t give us the emotional connection associated with a more traditionally shaped Christmas tree. You can guess what came next. We set out to create our own solution.
Our tree needed to be instantly recognisable, so it is based on how a child (or adult) would sketch a Christmas tree, we selected sustainable materials, did a bit of “engineering” and created our own tree. Friends and family liked it so much we were encouraged to think bigger & the business has been growing ever since.
Taking the leap with a pop-up shop…
As an online seller & with a small marketing budget, we had very limited interactions with customers. The opportunity to meet and talk to Christmas shoppers in an environment like John Lewis was too good to miss. We were not disappointed, we had plenty of feedback & great support from the John Lewis team, they were even pushing customers our way!
We were situated in the John Lewis store in Oxford, just a 20 minute drive from home, which made a big difference as the days were quite long.
Pop-up shop prep
Going in we had very few expectations, our team had never worked in-store before, so there was a lot to learn, we were also trying to sell quite a “big ticket” item. The main aim was to get customer feedback and “spread the word”. That said, we obviously hoped to sell some trees, however, Christmas tree purchase is a “considered” buy, often needing a family decision & more than one visit, so it might have been useful to have been in-store a couple of weeks.
Our expectations on sales were met, with expectations on customer feedback vastly exceeded. It’s always great to get encouraging words from and engaging conversations with total strangers. One such customer, visiting from overseas, was so impressed they made us a business offer & we are now in partnership with them. Alongside our UK patent where we operate, we have patents in the US, Canada, Europe and China, where our partner will be licensed to manufacture, market & sell our product.
The best pop-up moments
Talking directly to customers was definitely the greatest benefit. Hearing their views and ideas has given us so much encouragement for the future & meeting our own “Dragon” and expanding our business worldwide was definitely up there too!
Pop-up pointers from a small business owner...
Get yourself organised and try to get friends to help, it is a 7 day (10 hours a day) week! Talk to the in-store staff, they know their customers and know what will draw them in, for example, we were encouraged to advertise how local our business was to the store.
What’s next for Scalable Designs?
Ours is a “once a year” opportunity, but we are busy preparing for Christmas 2022, working on new marketing material, signing up for at least one Great British Pop-Up and supporting our overseas partners get off the ground.
A note from Mike Marchant, Scalable Designs
We can’t emphasize enough the boost the Great British Pop-up gave our business, talk to them, talk to us if you like, get yourself into a recognised store and show off what you do. Be passionate and the Great British public will want to support you!
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