MM.LaFleur’s Director Of Retail Shares The Key To Its Growing Success: Pop-up Stores

MM.LaFleur is a direct-to-consumer professional womenswear brand, founded by Sarah LaFleur, that’s making a big splash. It’s pushing the envelope for retail trends in workwear, revolutionizing the workwear space through luxury workwear, a personal-styling service, and pushing out powerful content that’s as multi-dimensional as it’s consumers.

Now disrupting the pop-up scene, the brand has booked 3 pop-up spaces with us and has its sights on other cities. We sat down with Rachel Mann, the brand’s Director of Retail, to discuss her pop-up strategy and why she thinks she’s nailed down the MM.LaFleur pop-up concept!

  • Talk to us about your recent LA pop-up concepts.

LA is an up-and-coming market for MM.LaFleur, and one that has a lot of growth potential. We opened there to test the customer experience, and to see how these customers differ from the others. We replicated our showroom experience and we loved the space we got.

We nailed our experience as well as design. Every detail was honed and thought through! Right now, we’re testing in different pop-up stores, and taking those findings into opening permanent showrooms around the U.S.

MM.LaFleur’s New York Showroom. Photo: Liz Clayman

We also wanted to test the real estate and nuances of the location. [With this short-term lease] we see a difference in demand and revenue that we wouldn’t have learned if we invested in a 7-year permanent lease.

  • Take us through the entire process of pulling off the pop-up store — where’d you start? How’d you find the space, the staff, the products and displays?

We found the space through Storefront. We knew our dates, our budget, our ideal location, and our needs for square footage. We have a traveling pop-up stylist team based in NYC that helps to produce our pop-ups, and we supplement them with local hires in LA. Caroline Brown, our Head of Visual Merchandising, cooks up the design of the space. She is really talented and able to work on a lean budget. Since it’s not our first rodeo, we’ve learned a lot about what works from previous pop-up stores in other cities.

  • What makes a successful pop-up store?

Pop-up stores need to be impactful, create a sense of urgency, and be a value add for the customer. The MM.LaFleur consumer is busy so it’s not enough to be like, “We’re here!”. Offer [things like] unique content, and products that the customer doesn’t normally get to touch and feel before she buys.

As a brand that does a lot of pop-up stores, we’ve refined our design and what it means in a modular, short-term setting, and [learned how to] build out a space in a short period of time. Operations and logistics are really important, as is the location, and making sure the concept is thoughtful.

MM.LaFleur’s pop-up showroom in San Francisco.
  • What lessons have you learned so far? What would be your words of advice to brands?

Have a plan to drive traffic. Don’t assume that because you’re opening something ground-level that droves of people will just wander in and buy things. You need to create buzz and actively drive customers through the door. Events are a great way to kick things off. 

If this is your first pop-up, use it as an experiment! Not every pop-up store is going to drive a ton of revenue, and that’s okay. Maybe your objective is to test new products and gather feedback, test a store experience that you might want to create at a later date, engage with your VIP customers, or acquire emails for follow-up initiatives. Failure can be great, as long as you’re taking notes and learning for the next time.

  • What is something you wish you had known prior to putting together a pop-up?

– Pocket Wifi is expensive (ha!).
– Something will always go wrong with your deliveries; plan for the worst.
– Task Rabbits are a great resource for building things or helping with steaming clothes and other set-up tasks.
– Accessible parking is critical (especially in LA).

Tons of pop-up ready spaces are waiting for you on Storefront!

Arielle Crane
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