19 August 2010

Tough business talk from New York

Ngozi Odita, founder of Society Hae, talks to Katie Morley about the popularity of pop-ups in North America

The main thing I tell people is that this is not just a creative project – it’s a business. This means that a successful pop-up will require a solid business plan, and at least three months planning. It’s definitely the hot thing to do right now, and I think one of the main reasons for this is the economy.

Companies can generate enough profit in the space of a short pop-up to keep them going for months. Compare this to all the start up costs that a regular business entails and you’ll see why it’s becoming so popular.

It’s a big part of the mainstream now. The temporary nature of pop-up has sparked a new sense of urgency for the customer. If it’s not going to be there forever, you need to rush or you’ll miss it. 

I think it’s also got to the stage where products aren’t enough to make you stand out. It’s all about providing an experience.

To get UK estate agents to cooperate, you need to pitch it to them as a partnership. Where there are empty buildings, pop-ups are the best way to re-invigorate an area for commerce.

If people are visiting the pop-up shops, they’re going to eat in the local restaurants. What you create is a situation where everyone wins, and this is why pop-up has longevity as a concept. It will certainly fizzle out to some extent, however the most successful businesses won’t stop doing it.

Ngozi Odita is teaching a course on How to plan, produce and market a pop-up shop at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

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