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Opening a flagship showroom for an Italian design brand in New York City presents all sorts of challenges. I accomplished a project like this when I was at the beginning of my career in my 20s. I didn’t have experience in business development, I didn’t know how to secure high-end projects, and on top of that, it was my first time working in the design luxury industry.
The brand I worked for is very established overseas, but that doesn’t translate automatically in the US or another geographic market. In my experience, it’s like building a startup from the ground up. The company had barely any sales in the region, few clients, and no distribution network. I started from scratch, and luckily, I had a mentor that taught me everything about business development, sales, and prospecting high-net-worth clientele. But he was physically located on the West Coast, and most of the time, I had to figure things out by experimenting.
I keep receiving requests to help other companies in a similar project, so I decided to share with you the four main challenges I faced and overcome while opening a brand new showroom for a luxury design brand in the US.
Challenge #1: Investing in a showroom location
When choosing the location for a new showroom, you want to think about who your clients are and where they hang out — for both brick-and-mortar retail and online.
It’s worth investing in a smaller space where valuable clients browse and a much bigger boutique in a part of town your clients will never travel.
As a location for the luxury showroom I opened in Manhattan, I choose the D&D Building (Decoration & Design Building). The D&D is a well-known design center where interior designers and decorators come to shop for furniture, home decor, etc., for their affluent clientele.
My goal has always been to transform the showroom into a destination where clients can experience the brand and not just buy pro