Masterclass: How to create and launch a pop-up, with Janet Oganah

29 Apr 2021

Continuing our Masterclass series, in this edition we welcome Janet Oganah, founder of Janet’s List, a curated platform aimed at promoting brands founded by Black women and women of colour.

©Janet's List

Having set up a number of pop-up shops before and during the pandemic, across London and Amsterdam, Janet knows a thing or two about making the most of valuable resources, no matter what your budget. From choosing a space, to grabbing the public’s attention, and keeping staff safe, Janet shares the kind of knowledge that could save a whole lot of trouble and tears.

Ready for a pop-up.

Because so many businesses were started online during the pandemic, a lot of business owners will have no experience of running things in a physical location. That can make things pretty daunting, but don’t worry.

There are some tell-tale signs that you’re ready for a pop-up. The first is that you’re a brand which does really well online, but which can’t get traction in traditional retail. Try a pop-up instead. The second sign is that your product sells well online, and you have customers consistently asking where they can visit you offline.

Another sign that you might want to try a pop-up is that you’re a multi-brand retailer looking to test particular brands on the street. You might have ambitions to set up a permanent shop, and a pop-up is a great way to test locations. As Janet says, “Personally, I’d never settle on a permanent shop without testing different locations”.

Also, you might simply have products that sell better in person, such as furniture, food, drink, fragrances, and so on.

Choosing your space.

Once you’ve decided to try a pop-up, there are some things to consider when choosing a space. Right away, you want to find that balance between keeping costs as low as possible, while still finding the best place your money can buy.

It’s important to carry out your due diligence. “If I’m looking at a new space,” Janet says, “I’ll usually sit in a nearby coffee shop and count the footfall in the local area. I’ll do it when the weather is good, and when it’s not so good, so that I can get a better sense of how the area performs even in the worst weather.

Then there’s security, storage, toilets, WiFi, all of those things which can easily slip your mind, remember them. The space has to work for you, but in reality, every space will have constraints (unless you’re on a Kardashian budget!).

“I remember absolutely loving this pop-up space in Amsterdam, except for the fact that the stock room was at the top of this killer spiral staircase. The landlord was amazing, but when I asked why he was leaving after nine years in the space, he said it was because he could no longer deal with the stairs!”

©Janet's List

Getting people through the door.

In Janet’s experience it comes down to what you have more of, time or money. If your budget is tight, you’re going to have to put in the time and squeeze every drop from every resource available to you.

Yes, that means using social media, but people tend to rely too much on social channels and not enough on their email newsletters. Make use of email newsletters, as well as physical posters and leaflets. If you have the budget to work with a PR consultant, that’s also an option, although you can have plenty of success doing your own PR. Similarly, inviting influencers relevant to your brand, to the shop, can be a great way of drumming up some buzz.

Taking online success offline.

The key here, according to Janet, lies first in consistency. What people see of your brand online, needs to be consistent with what they see offline, and that includes pricing. From a visual standpoint, it’s important to “create a vibe that reflects your brand”.

Get comfortable with talking, too. If you set up shop online during lockdown, this might be your first experience selling in person. People will want to ask you questions, and some people will just want to chat. Relax, smile, and enjoy yourself.

©Janet's List

Staying Covid safe.

Amongst all of the excitement of launching a pop-up, it can be tempting to let safety measures slip. Fortunately, Appear Here is well-versed in Covid safety, and has lots of practical resources to help keep you, your staff, and the public safe.

That said, always prioritise the safety of your staff, and be consistent and strict about PPE, hand sanitiser, and indoor footfall. Ultimately you have to look at the guidance that the government has put out and follow it to the letter. Not just for the safety of your team but also to reassure your customers.

Some final tips.

Track your expenses every day, but try not to skimp on anything which could lift your brand and give you an edge. At all times ensure that your staff safety and comfort is a priority. Take all of the help you can get, and delegate tasks according to people’s strengths. Don’t be afraid to be bossy, as long as you’re kind and respectful at the same time.

Make the most of this changing landscape, too. Competing for space against big brands used to be a nightmare, but the silver lining to this pandemic is that incredible spaces are now available and affordable for even the smallest businesses.

One final bit of advice from Janet, “Have fun. Find that thing that makes you buzz, and make it a feature of your space”.

Learn more from Janet.

Get the full benefit of Janet Oganah’s experience by taking her course, ‘How to create and launch your pop up’. Normal price £295, but you can get £50 off for a limited time. Just create an account on the website and enter the code JANETSLISTXAPPEAR