Happy & Glorious is a small family-run company that specialises in gifts and products for your home with an amazing touch of British style. Founded in 2012 by Kate Tompsett, the brand took its inspiration from the Queen’s Jubilee and the London Olympics.After focusing solely on online, Kate decided to launch her pop-up store in the local shopping centre in Royal Tunbridge Wells. As a result, 90% of the visitors left the store with a purchase! We chatted to Kate about her experience setting up a pop-up ...
What does 'Happy & Glorious' stand for and what's the big idea?
I set up 'Happy & Glorious' in 2012; the year of the Queen's Jubilee and the London Olympics. There was a real surge of happiness and optimism in the air, and the kind of patriotism that we Brits are often a bit embarrassed to demonstrate.
I was also inspired by retail queen Mary Portas, when I watched her 'Bottom Line' series about British manufacturing. There are plenty of wonderful things that we will always need to import from around the world, but if we can make or grow it here, it's nice to keep it local.
How do you source your products?
I attend trade shows in London four times per year. There's been a definite increase in the number of British manufacturers that exhibit at these events, which is great to see. I also find some suppliers on social media, have very talented friends and family, and also make a few ranges myself. There's a real joy in getting to know the people that design and make the products; it all feels very warm and fuzzy to sell products that you believe in, made by people that you know and love.
Why did you decide to launch a pop-up?
Running an online shop can be a very insular experience. Whilst there are repeat customers, if everything goes smoothly, it's rare to receive feedback on an order. There really is no substitute for placing your products (and yourself) out there, and finding out what people like, what they don't like. This is vital to keep growing and improving.
Why did you choose to appear in Royal Tunbridge Wells and what were the advantages over London?
I am local to Tunbridge Wells and have always loved the Pantiles; the architecture and the atmosphere, and all the lovely independent shops, cafes and bars that are waiting to be explored. I had been seeking a new pop-up opportunity and spotted Appear Here on twitter. Not only was it an easy commute from my home, I also felt that the people of Tunbridge Wells were excellent potential customers. When I went to visit the Corn Exchange, I was smitten by the building, and sorry to see the units empty. I felt utterly compelled to take the opportunity.
What did you aim to achieve through your pop-up?
I took part in PopUp Britain last year in Ashford, a Portas Pilot town. This was a communal pop-up shop, where different sections of the space were dedicated to different business owners, and it was a really creative, supportive environment. Launching a pop-up with Appear Here was a way of testing the brand, to see how it would feel. The pop-up was also a great opportunity to practice visual merchandising skills, and really focus on promotion and future plans for the business.
How did you measure your success?
Around 85-90% of visitors converted to a sale, which was really pleasing. Customers were positive about the collection, complementary about the presentation, and desperately keen to see the Corn Exchange brought back to life.
What was the main channel for the promotion of the pop-up?
I approached local newspapers and had an interview printed in the first issue of The Times of Tunbridge Wells. My family and I also did a flyer drop in the local area on the weekend before the popup, and used Facebook and twitter heavily during the stay. There were definite sales from all channels.
If you were to launch another pop-up, where would it be? What would be the ideal location for it?
Whilst London would undoubtedly be fantastic in terms of footfall, it could be tricky logistically. Interesting, pretty towns in Kent would always be preferable. Returning to the Corn Exchange would be wonderful, but at a time when the other units were occupied. It would be great if a pop-up community could come together and fill the whole building with exciting small businesses. Combined advertising efforts would increase footfall and give this gorgeous building the vibrant atmosphere that it deserves.
One piece of advice for someone else looking to launch a pop-up shop.
Promotion, promotion, promotion. Use hashtags, tweet local businesses, and post photos on social media. Don't wait for the customers to come to you, give them a reason to seek you out.
Any other insights you gained from your experience?
Exhausting, uplifting, exciting, complicated; the experience definitely brought home how much work a bricks-and-mortar shop can be.
An empty shop can be intimidating to customers, but constant tidying, changing displays and restocking makes it look busy and interesting. Getting out from behind the desk during quiet times keeps up the energy of the space, which makes it more enticing to passers-by.
A shop is never 'finished'. Displays can be constantly changed and added to; even during the final hours before packing up!
Get a glimpse of Happy&Glorious here!