Jodie O’ Connor and John Dupra
Today in The Lounge, Nick chats with Jodie O’Connor from Jodie O’ Designs. Learn about Jodie’s unique transition to design and her latest marketing initiatives. Up next, Nick interviews John Dupra of Revel Woods. Revel Woods is an online retailer of luxury hardwoods selling to both designers and end users. Learn more about their company origins, curated product selections, and exclusive trade programs.
Jodie O’Connor: An Entrepreneurial Spirit
As a young child, Jodie’s parents taught her that you can do anything you want if you work hard. After receiving a degree in English from Seton Hall University in northern NJ, she realized that deep down inside she wanted to do design. She eventually went back to school with an entrepreneurial spirit to study design, working as a designer and studying simultaneously. She realized that she did not want to make a starting intern’s salary, as at this point in her life, she was older and had small children. However, she did not have the needed experience to start a new career at a higher salary. She joined a local mom’s group and would offer in-home design classes demonstrating her expertise. Functioning similarly to the Tupperware parties that were popular at the time, in these classes she offered a free in-home design consultation for the host in front of 10-15 participants who listened to her feedback and tips. Jodie ran these parties four times a week for about 2 yrs. From this, she was able to obtain clients and her business grew.
Now in business for over 20 years, Jodie employs a team of 3 with additional staff hired over the summer. She loves the construction side of design, going over the plans and conceptualizing. Her primary focus for this year is marketing. From the recession, she learned that you are at risk if you are only doing one thing, one way. Her first marketing initiative was to put an ad in a magazine but that attempt was not successful. She then started working on local show houses. She has found that it has been a great investment, provides legitimacy and puts you in touch with different people. Their local show home community receives about 30,000 visitors a month. Now on her 4th show house, Jody has paid her dues and has seen much success from this arena.
Jodie is also a big fan of writing emails. She finds that by doing this she can market herself directly to a person that needs assistance. From simply writing an inquiry offering her services she has been able to book jobs. Jodie recommends to keep the email short, no more than 3 lines, and provide a way that you can help them with their business. One of her other keys to success is to work in that you are a designer into every conversation. This year Jodie has been amping up her Facebook which has been an effective vehicle for her to book jobs. Jodie also believes in setting business goals. Her goals for this year are to work on model home and boutique hotel projects and to be on the cover of Shelter magazine.
John Dupra – Revel Woods
Revel Woods is the retail line of the New York-based hardwood flooring company. Originally a regional wholesaler, the company wanted to enter into the e-commerce space but did not know how to do it. The hardwood product they sell is climate and region specific. A selected wood that works well in one part of the country may not perform as well in another part. They realized that the end user needed to be educated on this otherwise they run the risk of selecting a product that will deteriorate due to improper environmental conditions.Taking cues from the online fashion retailers, the company sought to create a curated boutique experience generated by a series of questions to enable the end user to select a high performing floor suitable to their specific needs. Known as the “Revel Woods Selector”, the short questionnaire will ask for your zip code, activity level, and sub-floor. After answering these questions the end user will see a showroom of products specifically customized to their space. This feature will be available on their new website launching in June.
The new website is geared for both designers and end users. Designers can use the site as a sourcing guide. The pricing structure will allow designers to offer the product at a discount while still making a commission. The end user will still be able to purchase the product but at a higher cost. As the new website is still in development, any designer that signs up for a Pro Account now will be grandfathered into the new program. Designs will also have access to a dedicated customer support line, webinars and the ability to source a high-end product. Research has shown that hardwood floors continue to be the ultimate status symbol for the home. To learn more visit their website or sign up for a Pro Account.
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