S3 E18: Marketing a lifestyle brand and tailoring CX based on geographical location with Stephanie Cohen (Founder, Stephanie Cohen Home)


On this episode of Retention Chronicles, we’re joined by Stephanie Cohen, Founder of Stephanie Cohen Home, a brand exceeding their customers' expectations with exceptional service and beautiful, quality furnishings. On this episode, Mariah and Stephanie talk about:

  • Stephanie’s background as an interior designer and how that influenced building out Stephanie Cohen Home,
  • walking through the customer experience and recognizing there were too many steps a customer had to take to purchase,
  • eliminating customer friction in the buying process,
  • taking glam shots for product listings,
  • marketing through lifestyle brand marketing,
  • tailoring the customer experience based on geographical location,
  • & more!

Be sure to subscribe to our pod to stay up-to-date and checkout Malomo, the leading order tracking platform for Shopify brands.

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This transcript was completed by an automated system, please forgive any grammatical errors.


home, brand, sofa, product, furniture, design, interior design, customers, ecommerce, started, find, retail, cohen, purchase, retention, location, people, love, lifestyle, years


Mariah Parsons, Stephanie Cohen

Mariah Parsons 00:04

Hi there, I'm Mariah Parsons, your host of retention Chronicles, ecommerce brands are starting to shift their strategy to focus on retention in the customer experience. And so we've decided to reach out to top DC brands and dive deeper into their tactics and challenges. But here's the thing, we love going on tangents. And so with our guests, you'll often find us talking about the latest trends, as well as any and all things in the Shopify ecosystem. So go ahead and start that workout or go on that walk and tune in as we chat with the leading minds in the space retention Chronicles is sponsored by Malomo, a shipment in order tracking platform, improving the post purchase experience, be sure to subscribe and check out all of our other episodes at go. malomo.com. All right, well, hello, everyone. And welcome back to retention Chronicles. I'm so so so thrilled to have a wonderful guests with us here today. Stephanie Cohen, thank you so much for making the time super excited to have you I'm gonna have you start off just by saying hi. And to give you a little bit of a background of yourself.

Stephanie Cohen 01:16

Hi, I'm so excited to be here. This is such an amazing podcast, and I'm really honored to be on. So a little bit about me, I am an interior designer, I've been doing this a little bit over 15 years. In that time, I now have a amazing ecommerce website and have a 30,000 square foot Furniture Showroom. So a brick and mortar in addition to doing all my interior work and you know, personal client, interior design jocks.

Mariah Parsons 01:54

Yes, thank you. Wonderful. I know we're gonna dive way more into that. But I wanted to ask because as before we got on this recording, you were telling me about just the differences with the real estate, the having the retail branch, and then also the E commerce DTC side of things. So which started first? Or did you start putting together?

Stephanie Cohen 02:16

No, we didn't start them together, we actually started with the brick and mortar first, we started with the retail portion of it first. And then I want to say about eight years ago, we just thought that it was going in a different direction. So what happens with retail is very, you know, there are times that it's good, there is seasonal, it's also like holiday, it's also it's just contingent to a lot of different things. Whereas if the children are at work, or at school, or if it's vacation, there are different times that retail is effective. And there are times that retail is not, we started looking into the internet because it didn't have a time slot. So at the comfort of your home, after any holiday after any long day of work, you could just sit down and buy whenever you want. So we realized that the potential there was, you know, great. So we kind of started off a little low. And then, you know, we kind of developed into what we have now, which we're very proud of.

Mariah Parsons 03:25

Yes, as you shouldn't be. I mean, you were just saying to you, you're opening up to new locations, which is wonderful. And the ecommerce store is doing well. So I love hearing that. Can you walk me through first like as your background is in interior design? How did you kind of come to the realization that you wanted to start your own brand and have both the retail and E commerce branches of that brand?

Stephanie Cohen 03:50

So when I originally started, my husband was in, he was an importer of area rugs. So I went to school, I was going I was gone into law school, I never went because I had my son. And then a couple years later, I got bored. He said just go to Design School because it's a related industry. So after I went to school, and then I started working, I realized rugs was not enough. So I said okay, let's open this furniture line. Let's open that furniture line. Fast forward about 10 years, we were like 150 lines in and we stopped importing rugs. So then at that point, we opened a retail location. And that's how we started with the whole retail aspect of it. Now my son's work with us both of two of my sons work with that. That's awesome. So then when we started doing the Shopify when we started doing the E commerce originally it wasn't ecommerce. It was just a platform. And we realized that that was very uneffective So when we kind of went into the E commerce and we got the programmers and everybody pitched in to put together what we have now, we realize it's the same as having a store. It's exactly the same cloth of having a very nicely located retail, like, you know, a 10,000 square foot operation.

Mariah Parsons 05:24

So, yeah, that's super interesting. I haven't had,

Stephanie Cohen 05:29

essentially, it was like our second store. So that's how that happened. And then, you know, it kind of developed from there that we realized, you know, it's about the advertising, and it's about cross promoting, and about the marketing, and you know, how social media plays into it. And then Stephanie Cohen became a lifestyle brand, because, you know, we have, we had another furniture store called Benjamin rug, and furniture, which was great. It was amazing, everything was great, but it kind of lost its footing, because people want to associate with a person. So the definitely Cohen home brand, the lifestyle brand became a very personal thing. This is a relatable woman, in our age bracket, and this is her life and her lifestyle, and it became something much more personal. And I think that's what made it effective. And all of the marketing through the lifestyle brand marketing, makes that like this is a person that I could kind of relate to this is she kind of gets me she kind of understands my style and my vibe, but it's beyond walking into like, a furniture store. Yeah, I think that's what was like the edge for it.

Mariah Parsons 06:51

Oh, that's awesome. Okay, I've so many questions that I'm gonna dive into. And that was wonderful. Thank you. 70. Okay, so I find that so interesting with like having a persona to the brand. But I want to first dive into like the differences you said when it was just like Stephanie Cohen was just a platform. And then when you started really diving into Shopify, and like the E commerce space, so can you dive into kind of the differences that you were seeing there in case anyone who's listening is like currently in that spot? What would you what was your experience?

Stephanie Cohen 07:25

So what happens with what happens with internet you have the internet shoppers, you have a very small window of opportunity for their attention. Right? So it should not nothing should be more than like two hops, three clicks away from their purchase. So when you have a platform that's not ecommerce, so now it's called for pricing. So I came home from work, it's seven o'clock, I'm on the bed. And I'm like, You know what, I just need to get that cocktail table, people are coming over. Now I find the cocktail table that I want, I don't even know how much it is, I don't know how long it's going to take for me to get it call for pricing tomorrow, I'm going to forget. Yeah, of time. You know, so it kind of even if you like, bookmark it, and you're, you're trying to remember an alarm and a reminder that you are like, Okay, I gotta call this girl back tomorrow and see if they have it. And so then you just take that product that I just showed you that you'd like, you Google it, and you find someone that has it, and then you just, you know, so we were we were marketing correctly, we were curating correctly, the product is the same that we have now, obviously, now we have, you know, significantly more skews than we used to but same platform conceptually, but it was it needs to be purchased. It needs to be purchased. And another thing we learned about a product is that it needs a glam shot. Okay, and I don't like clothes. If you see a t shirt. Not enough, you need to see the t shirt on someone. But when you see a cocktail table, it's fine. But you need to see it in a room setting to kind of get the scale of it even though the measurements are there. What does it mean? What does 35 by 56 mean? So if you see it in front of a sofa, you're like, Ah, okay, I think that's what I'm looking for. You know? Yes, yeah, I'm

Mariah Parsons 09:28

even thinking about like, my own just being in a concert like a consumer from that standpoint of like, seeing a glam shot or a product image that is like it has stuff on it too. You're just like, Oh, that's really cute. I could see like that or like, this is what I have that I could like, you know, put on this table or style it this way or design it that way like it also helps make it more relatable which ties into having, you know, a glamour shot but also like a persona behind the brand as well.

Stephanie Cohen 09:57

Right. And then the glam shots typically have more than In one item. So let's say you're looking for a cocktail table, and then you see the glam shot. And it's the sofa, the cocktail table, side table and a chair or chair, two chairs and a side table. So then you look at your face and you're like, Yeah, okay, I like this cactus. You I should probably do the side table, because I have those two chairs that I don't have a table between them. And look how this looks. So it's also a build on your purchase.

Mariah Parsons 10:27

Yes, yeah, you're able to get that cross sell, especially with furniture, too. It's like, if you want, you know, your area to feel like it is all cohesive, it's really helpful to be able to see sets that are, you know, matched well together. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Okay, so, now I want to go into more of the branding, having a person with the, with the products with the brand. So what was that whole experience? Like? Because I know your social, like, You are the face of obviously your brand. So how, how was that like building that out? Was there like friction along the way? I mean, I would call you an influencer. I don't know if you would also call yourself that. But I would. I would nominate you so. So what what has that process been? Like? Just seeing, you know, your personality be brought into your brand?

Stephanie Cohen 11:24

Shocking, find myself very uninteresting.

Mariah Parsons 11:29

Oh, stop it. I was like, totally lost in like, your social media? You know, I had to be right. It's part of the job. Yeah.

Stephanie Cohen 11:37

It was the work of many people. So it started off, I don't like taking pictures, it has to be 7000 pictures taken until one day, I don't, you know, it's not, it's not something I'm so terribly comfortable with. But, and I don't think it's, it's anything special at all in any way. But we would take pictures. And then, you know, as a marketing companies, they were very insistent. And they were like you have to be it's very personal. Like, you have to when you're saying like, this is nice, you kind of have to be in it, and you have to promote it. And I'm like, nobody cares. Nobody cares. Look at me, just it's my company, but nobody knew that much to see. And they would just be in it. So then we would do shots with and without the person. And it was so different. Wow. You know, I feel like also like when you're when I'm looking at something, you get tired of scenery, images, you get tired of looking at tables, you look at it table after table after table after table. But then this is Japanese house. And this is the table that can Japanese house or This is Japanese new project. And so then you see the person, it just makes it a little bit more dimensional. And it makes it definitely more relatable. So I think that's how it developed for me because I was very hesitant and very resistant to it. But now here we are.

Mariah Parsons 13:13

And now you're like dang it, then you might have been onto something. Oh my gosh, yeah, that's wonderful. I think I mean, as you're speaking, I was like, it just makes it homier, which is I mean, a plan and cliche, whatever because of the industry you're in, but it does like, especially with the home, I feel like maybe because I've This has actually been brought up before just internally with our team. And then through this podcast, as well of like, brands who have a persona behind them like a face to the face of the name or face of the brand, versus brands who don't. And I feel like more often than not, it's the brands that are super, are very inherent to like your everyday lifestyle, like and they say a lot about you that typically have a person attached to them. So I feel like like, beauty, health, anything in the home, that's more of the brands where it's like, oh, I want to see someone who I find that I can relate with or like has a lifestyle that I want or that I already have. And then you know, brands that perhaps aren't as attached to your persona, then maybe they don't need that personality factor. And they're able to get by on like the brand itself. So how do you feel about that, which is like, so my question is like, versus a brand that has a personality versus not Do you think that there's like an industry split between which ones you think, maybe have a persona behind them?

Stephanie Cohen 14:46

Listen, there's all kinds of businesses and there's all kinds of six axes. I do think when a brand has a persona, you know, it applies to fashion, you know, fashion and home are very interrelated. Yeah. So what happens in fashion typically about a year after happens at home. So if you look at the fashion brands, the fashion brands that you aren't, you know, who Tom Ford is, you know, like if you know the brand, it becomes more of like a Ralph Lauren. You know, Ralph Lauren had that true Americana lifestyle. So when you went in the store smelled like it and felt like it and you're like, I just want to be a part of this equestrian life like, it was the person and the brand he had created that kind of created that whole vibe. So I think it does set itself apart from just like a, you know, if it's, whatever, just one word, and you're like, oh, this, this product is nice. But who is this product?

Mariah Parsons 15:53

Right? What do they stand for? What do they stand for? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that actually leads me into my next question that I had for you is, so you have, obviously, great, great products, like they're great images, right? Like you've set yourself up with all these things. Now you're looking at? How do I go to market? Like, what am I trying to portray? Like, the message is behind the imagery behind the branding? So what was the thought process behind how you're trying to portray Stephanie Cohen to the rest of the world to your customers, because I have like my takeaways, which I'll share, but I want to hear yours for I'm

Stephanie Cohen 16:33

so interested what you have to say, I have to tell you, that was just a little bit less planned out that it was seem it was it was a little more organic. It was more like, Okay, this is who I am, this is my life, this is what I do. I hope you think it's cool. Like, that's there was that, like, we didn't really try to recreate it in any way. And it was more about okay, so And here's the product, and this is what I love. And I think this is what's relevant. And the whole, the whole brand revolves around, you know, contemporary on different levels. Because contemporary has become such a vague word. It's anything that's not traditional, is now contemporary.

Mariah Parsons 17:19

So like, it'd be a lot of stuff.

Stephanie Cohen 17:21

It could be a million things, it could be anything, anything that's updated is considered contemporary, like even modern, classic, which is contemporary, but it's still classic, you know, so, so it was more like, okay, so I'm gonna get in here, and I'm going to tell you what I think is going on. Based on all my experience based on you know, when you have ecommerce, its national, based on what people are looking at nationally, based on what people are coming into the store for locally, I could tell you kind of what the trends are. And you know, when you go to market, you see what's coming out what colors they're dictating. So it was kind of okay, so we started off with a feminine glam, and that was my schpeel that was my niche, like, feminine glam contemporary. And then it kind of took a turn, and glam kind of as beautiful it is. And it's my it's my everything I love anything that has that kind of a feminine feel. Now it's organic, which is organic, modern, which is also still true to me because there's a little bit more of like a feminine touch to it. But it's kind of like realizing what's going on being on top of what is current, and then adding your own little flair. Like if everything has to be bream, on taupe and ivory. I love that. Yeah, no problem with that. I want a little bit of mint green, I want a little bit of Carl, I want a little bit of something that makes it a little bit more feminine. So I think that's how the brand got established as its identity. So it's you're trying to stay current, you know, you're not going to stick to okay, I was 18th century English. I don't care what's going on in the world. You know, it's not like that. It's we're gonna keep you current, we're gonna tell you what's going on. We're gonna tell you where the trends are going. Because it's like fashion. You can't be like, Okay, I just like skinny jeans. And that's it. I don't care what you have to say, you know, yeah, different world now, entering the jeans are flaring deal with it, you know? Go with the flow. So staying on top of the trends, and then kind of adding a little bit of your two cents to it.

Mariah Parsons 19:47

Okay, yes. So if I'm hearing you correctly, is it safe to assume or say to say that you look at the fashion trends, and that's kind of what's informing the movements? Yeah, for sure. That's so interest seem to me see, I would never know this just not being in the space that I assume many. Also don't know that that's kind of what how you can maybe decipher because I think about, I mean, I don't have a background in interior design. But I grew up like watching HGTV with my mom because she loved it right. And I feel like a lot of people watching like home renovation shows but like, I just it's seared in my brain of like, everyone has their own piece. Everyone has their own style that speaks to them. Right. So like, my, the question that's going through my mind is, how are you deciphering like to have that flexibility with the market where it's like, you know, this is what's going to trend this year, the jeans are flaring, whatever it is, but then trying to also either find your niche or find what's going to be different about your brand. So how do you try and like, stay true to like, the core core aspects of your brand, while also allowing for that flexibility in the market.

Stephanie Cohen 20:57

So it's exactly what I said, I go with the flow of the market, I don't fight trends, I think you need to be you need to be current, you know, it's home is like fashion, you just want it to be beautiful. Of course you have everyone has different genres that they like, you know, some people are true traditionalist, but then you update them, you know, like, let's say you, you know, somebody's like, I just loved that ball and claw, Camelback, mahogany sofa, fine, we're going to take you out of that burgundy damn mask, and we're gonna put a taupe mohair on it done, you're updated, you're cool, you're current, and you're still true to your own style. You're still classic. So it's, you know, it's flexibility. But within reason, like flexibility to the point that you come back to me and five years and be like, Oh, I'm so happy that you pushed me away, you know, because now I'm seeing what happened. I was going to do all of this. And four years later, I would have to redo it. So I current then you're good for 1015 years. If you're you're right to date, you're good. You're not gonna it's not going to change by tomorrow.

Mariah Parsons 22:15

Right? Yeah, it's not that quick, quick. It's not that quick home is not that quick. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Like, it's little tweaks like, even to the pieces of furniture that you already have. It's like, okay, I have this staple piece that I love. Like, how do I just tweak it? Or how do I change it just a little bit, so that it still matches what's with the times, but you aren't having to redo your home, obviously, or even

Stephanie Cohen 22:38

fight the bone of your home. You know, sometimes you go in and the home is like super neoclassical. You're not gonna stick like a, like a boxy, clean, white leather sofa in there look crazy. Yeah. Yeah, you kind of have to make your adjustments based on what's current and what is existing with the client and what the client loves. Because at the end of the day, it's their house. And it's their live. So you try to get their vision to be as accurate and current as possible, but truly, truly true to their sense of aesthetic.

Mariah Parsons 23:22

Hmm, yeah, that's a great color to remember. Because it is like, I, you know, you can talk about like the logistical things of like, okay, this, this shouldn't this doesn't fit in what you know, the bone of the home, which I love that that's so fun. Some terminology that doesn't fit with what it is, right? So you have to be flexible there. But I think it's a good reminder of like, part of the reason why I'm sure you want to have the branding and I don't even think I said it but I think the branding is very like cozy but it's also impressive at the same time where it's like you don't it's not something that what someone would like enter your house and be like almost intimidated by like, it's like oh my god all this like grand stuff. Like that's not relatable like it, you find the nice balance with what I've seen from your catalog. So wanted to say that, but I think that's a good reminder of the rant. Like even if you have the branding, and all these different you know, all these pieces that you're recommending, it is still the person's home, so you want them to be cozy. And that of course goes back to why they're working with you to have your experience, but also the flexibility of hey, like I love what this looks like, or I really want this here, whatever their personal. Personal opinions are in that. It's it's really cool thing to like, look into both of them.

Stephanie Cohen 24:43

Yeah, because at the end of the day, home decor is art. And art is subjective. There is no right or wrong. I could say that contemporary is more current. It doesn't mean anything. If you love traditional Oh, it doesn't matter if I love a skinny jean. You can't talk me out of it. I love and skinny jean. You can't talk man. So then you wear it in a way that's more updated,

Mariah Parsons 25:10

huh? Yeah. Yeah. You adjust other pieces of the whole Yeah, of the whole outfit. I also wanted to ask so I know we said that you're looking at fashion trends and ruts on the runway and whatnot. But Are you adjusting? You mentioned the your ecommerce site? That's national, right? That's not regional. But for the stores that are regional in regional areas? Are you like tweaking what is on? Like what's in those showrooms based off of where those locations are? Like, because I 100%? Okay, because I'm, like I said, I'm from the East Coast. And now I live in the Midwest. So like, I see a difference in fashion. Just from that, and obviously, a train of thought that also changes the home as well. So how can you like, give me a breakdown of how you're kind of thinking about that? So

Stephanie Cohen 26:05

it's, it's hard to describe and to say, as a blanket statement, every state is designed the same way? It's not. Some states are more, you know, the climate is different. You know, the California and Miami's are very different than New York. Yeah. So just based on the climate itself, design is different. So anytime we're looking at opening a location in a certain area, we spent a lot of time in that area, we spend a lot of time doing research on, you know, the projects that were done in the area, what, you know, the people that are in the area that fall into our demographics, what their style is, what their vibe is, what, you know, what the local furniture stores over there are selling, what the better stores is, and the more successful stores are selling versus what you know, just kind of do a real, you know, for me, right now, I'm fortunate I know, our locations, and I know what's going on in them. Because, you know, one, they're both relatively close right now. And the one in Florida, we're kind of put on the backburner for the for the time being, but we kind of understood that market too. But if someone is to pass, Stewart nationally, you know, it's different, like there is the restoration of the world that it is what it is, and you walk into it, and you like it, you don't like it, that's what it is. But when you're doing interior design, and doing personal interior design, my design work and Park Avenue cannot be the same as Miami, which is not the same, it's not the same lifestyle. You know, so it has to be different, the colors have to be different, the textures have to be different, you can't have velvets, in Florida, you can't you know, in when you're in those areas that there was a lot of salt in the air, you can't have fabrics that are like silks, you know, it just doesn't work. You need performance fabrics, even with performance fabrics, if they're relatively close to the water, it does get ruined, it's you know, it's, there's a lot to be mindful of. So for a design store, we have to do a lot of research. So we have to really cater to what's going on in that particular area. It can't just be like, a sofa, sofa sofa, you know, it doesn't work that way for us.

Mariah Parsons 28:31

Yeah, that's so interesting with all the intricacies that are that, you know, someone would probably never think of when they're going to buy something from your store have like, all the time and effort that has been put into okay, like making sure that the fabrics last long and that they don't, you know, absorb the water in the air or anything like that. That is so interesting. So remind me, you'd said there's going to be two note two new locations is that

Stephanie Cohen 28:58

I'm looking at two new locations. One is we're in Long Island, where, you know, closer to the Hamptons right now there's going to be one closer to the North Shore of Long Island, and then one in Williamsburg. So these are the two that we're kind of working on right now. And we had a location that we were looking at in Florida, but we kind of put that on hold to do these two projects first.

Mariah Parsons 29:24

Yes, yeah. Okay, that's right. We're in. We're on Long Island. I just have to ask my roommate from there. Oh, I don't

Stephanie Cohen 29:31

want to say it. Oh, you know, and

Mariah Parsons 29:33

is that okay? Totally. All right, now

Stephanie Cohen 29:34

we're in farming. Okay. Okay. Now our first location is in farming down. Okay. Wonderful. To where I am. Okay.

Mariah Parsons 29:43

Okay, fun. That'll be a nice little. Our listeners. Yeah. So to listen to follow, they'll have to stay in touch and get updates on it. Oh my gosh, that's amazing. Well, that's really excited. Yeah, right. Yes. Yes. Oh my gosh, as you should. That's so exciting to have a vacation. Yeah. Okay, so now I want to talk more about I know I, we had chatted before about how it's not really you're not like rolling out new collections of things. And we've been talking about how design design changes based off of location, or their what other factors other than, like, the actual, like, what the actual product is like. So like, indoor versus outdoor sofa or like a chair or table. What other factors are you considering when you're thinking about, like how you're designing new spaces

Stephanie Cohen 30:37

is there the math for the for the Internet, or just an interior design as in the whole,

Mariah Parsons 30:42

um, just interior design as a whole. But if there's something you'd like to say, for the Internet, obviously very happy to dive into that.

Stephanie Cohen 30:50

So the internet, so going back to his sofa, sofa, it's you know, so if the frame is correct, if the lines are correct, it used to be like a track arm, a straight clean sofa was you know, the most desirable frame. Now curves are coming in. So a little bubbly, a little curvy. But you know, the internet works, because that shape is beautiful, regardless of where it is, it just becomes the material that goes on it. So if you are in the city, and you have, you know, even a deep rain rich like charcoal velvet, on your sofa, that frame is magnificent. And then if you're in Florida, and you take that same sofa, and you put like a white performance canvas on it, like a weave. So it's the same frame, but that's why ecommerce works because they can kind of

Mariah Parsons 31:48

adjust it to their own needs. Right? Yeah,

Stephanie Cohen 31:51

stays the same. It's just what they cover it in, that kind of dictates their location.

Mariah Parsons 31:56

Okay, and are you asking the customer like before they buy, like through a survey or something like that of like, where they live to help someone kind of like,

Stephanie Cohen 32:05

the website is the website, they kind of navigate through the website themselves, we implemented during COVID. An interior design service. Now we do now that we have a bunch of different packages, I have a team of people that help on the internet with people kind of drafting for them and doing furniture layouts, and, you know, selecting and doing everything. And then we have like the Premium Package, which, you know, I get involved in. So let's say, you know, we we've been doing a lot since COVID. I did a bunch of projects in California during Okay, yeah. So it's super easy. So then, you know, your client tells tells you where they live, they tell you what their needs are, you know, so every regardless of even if everybody's from the same location, people's needs are different. If you're a young couple, your needs are different than if you have children, then if you have older parents, then, you know, everything has to be different in level of safety and different in level of durability, or sexiness, you know, so it was amazing. It was so interesting. It was something that we've never done before. And you're sitting in your home and you're just face to face with someone and they're like stuff I just My kids are so MACD like my husband wants a really comfortable, though. But like, yeah, I just want it to be so easy you drafted, they give you their measurements, you draft and you do a couple of different layouts. And then you source the products on our website together. And then you know, I select the fabrics, I get the samples or the fabrics from the vendor send it to them, based on what we discussed based on what I think the space should look like. Then I send them the sample of the carpet, they put their fabrics, their wood samples on the carpet, they approve it as it was, we could not believe because you know COVID forced us all to do things that we never did. Yeah, we could not believe how plausible It was to be doing design work in a completely different state without ever walking into the space. It was amazing. It was it was something so fun. And so interesting to know. Now it's a big part of our business. You know, I have a bunch of people that do, you know, there's packages as small as like I think $99 is our starting package. And they get an hour one on one with a designer and they they draft for them and it's you know, they help them source off of the website. If you like this table then you could do this pie table on that sofa goes with it and it's It's, it's a pleasure for our customers, because now they're not at the mercy of one person being available. And it's, it was amazing for us, and then you have the conversation and then you hang up and they could spend the rest of the night looking for themselves and kind of figuring out what they want. Or if they need more, you know, attention, then they, you know, they come back to you. And they say, No, I just need a little bit more. Yeah.

Mariah Parsons 35:27

Yeah, that's such an awesome, like, way to innovate during COVID. And to try and take something like that you do. Like you said, you never would have thought that it would be possible to consult with someone who is across the country, and then taking that application and like keeping it like, I feel like that's one of the things that I haven't seen frequently, where it's like, oh, you can actually have someone consult on your home without them being there. And just to have that ability nowadays, I feel like that just helps. You know, the accessibility of everyone having a home that they enjoy the design of, because I know like, even just thinking with my family, we went through renovations when I was about like, 13. And so I got to see like a little bit of it, right? Like my parents were like, Okay, you get to choose, like the color of your walls. And I was so excited. Right? But okay, I actually did this, like very pretty faint yellow, like a sandy yellow. I was really Yeah, I was really into like, teal at the time. But I had the my wits without, or my wits with me enough to not paint my teeth, like my walls bright deal. So my parents, of course, were like, okay, yes, great. And then so is yellow accent. And then a lot of my, like bedding and whatnot, was teal. So I've since swapped out in my childhood bedroom. I'm in a different one now. But like, I saw what my what my parents were going through. And it was like, trying to look at every single room and be like, Okay, how do we, you know, curate this, like, experience that you're walking through our home? And like, how do we change the furniture, we already have to like, match this newer? Look, because we had an old Victorian home. So it was like, I just saw, like, the conversations my mom was having with my dad of like, what do we think like this? This? Maybe this? I don't know, like it was there's so much confusion around it. And I imagine, you know, if this was years ago, if they had someone to help them just like, Okay, this is maybe what you should look at, if you like these things, or this is the home you live in, then it would have been way easier. Yes,

Stephanie Cohen 37:41

it makes it way easier. And then also, you know, people are buying from the website anyway. The stuff that we have is meant to my end, it's not inexpensive. It's beautiful product that's made to last forever. So when you're making a big purchase like that, it's you know, you want to be sure it's not like your it's not transitory furniture. It's real furniture. So if I'm spending all this money on this buffet, am I making a correct decision? Is this correct? So it's so easy to have someone say to you, okay, let me see. Let me see your house. Show me a picture. You know, yeah, that'll work. Like give me the measurement. Also one of the bigger bigger things more than if your style because a lot of people do have style. A lot of people do know exactly what they want. And that's wonderful. But more than that, it's scaling. You know, you're looking at a piece and it's 72 inches wide. And your wall is maybe 76 inches wide. So you're like okay, fits. Okay, but do you understand what that means? It means it's rim to rim. Yeah. And if you're okay with that, in that space, then it's fine. But sometimes people don't visually understand. Like, I want the biggest cocktail table possible. Okay, a 52 inch big door you want like half the surface of your room covered? Like you know, and so I think when you do those two dimensional renderings, and you do see it to scale, you're like, Ah, okay, because you're talking about I want it tiny cocktail table and then you have 100 inch sofa and you want a 24 inch cocktail table. You sure? Yeah. Let me show you what that looks like. And then they look at and they're like, Oh my God, that's me. And I'm like

Mariah Parsons 39:33

yeah, so Okay, dialing is

Stephanie Cohen 39:35

important. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So

Mariah Parsons 39:37

with that with the like with scaling and having kind of that other voice to be like wait a minute, let's check if this is like what you actually want. Do you find that because one of the things that we run into with you know the customer experience just in general is after someone purchases from it's not like retail where you go home with it in your car, right like ecommerce. First, you have to wait a little bit for it to be shipped to you. And sometimes in that period where people purchase something, especially something that is a bigger purchase, like furniture, there's like this time period where it could turn into like buyer's remorse. So do you find that because you're kind of doing that work on the front end where you're like, checking, or you're saying like, Hey, are you sure? Like, you want it to cover half the half your room or whatever? Do you find that there's still that area where you get a little bit of those customers being like, wait a minute, like pump the brakes? No,

Stephanie Cohen 40:34

that's awesome. Anytime that any of my staff or myself, we've done a design job online with a, you know, an internet customer, we've never had buyer's remorse, because it's so really well, well thought out. It's not an impulse purchase. Yes, it's well designed, well thought out. You know, it just becomes, you know, affordability factor, like, Am I prepared to spend this much on this? And if it's yes, it's yes. And if it's no, it's no. buyer's remorse for our industry, in general is not so much. Because there is restocking fees, and there's shipping fees. And when you're shipping a product that is, you know, 200 pounds heavy. You don't you don't want to take that. Yeah. So we do find that our customers are more educated, and they're more calculated, and they're not as impulsive. You know, there aren't smaller the decor pieces. Yes, the decor pieces, you know, they don't care about the restocking, it wasn't so much to begin with the shipping is not a big deal. That happens more than the actual furniture furniture, we don't typically have so much of a problem with.

Mariah Parsons 41:53

Okay, that's yeah, that's I mean, that's great to hear. Right? Like I would hope. Yeah, no, it's

Stephanie Cohen 41:58

wonderful. Thank God. Yeah.

Mariah Parsons 41:59

Yeah, that's great. Do you have to know too, because I'm thinking, Do you know, like, the breakdown of how many people typically if they're shopping online, we'll also get the consulting packages, like I'm just curious, you might not know off the top of your head.

Stephanie Cohen 42:16

You know, it's a, it's a big website with a lot of traffic. So it's, it's not as much as the actual website can accommodate. I want to say at this point, it's about 10%, which is a lot. Yeah, because a 10% of our customers that up until a few years ago, we didn't even have this option for so it's not a tremendous amount of, but it's a it's a bigger business than that it still is, it's still a lot of people per month, you know, that it was just business that just didn't exist for us.

Mariah Parsons 42:57

And to it reminds me just of like the 8020 rule where it's like those 10%, even though it's not, you know, majority, it's like, that creates a lot of work for you and your team alone, and it just being 10% because of the traffic that you're getting. And those are probably some of the most loyal customers that you have, who are like, I want to help I want to come back to work with you and your team. Like I love the products. So it's like, you know, if that's, that's the number and it's going well, then I think

Stephanie Cohen 43:26

it's like a little bit even beyond that, because I say 10% of our customers, but it's not that what happens is our customers go in and buy a product. It's a it's a commerce website. So let's say you want a buffet, you go in and buy a buffet, and you leave, right, maybe you'll pick up a couple of pillows, maybe you pick up a couple of candles, but you're not there to do your house. So this 10% became 10% design drops that we picked up from the website. I see. Oh, it's a whole other thing.

Mariah Parsons 44:02

Gotcha. It was

Stephanie Cohen 44:03

an add on to our design business more than our ecommerce.

Mariah Parsons 44:08

Okay, good. I'm glad you clarified that. Yeah, cuz that's, I mean, that's huge. That's yeah, to crazy. Yeah. Yeah, that's wonderful. I mean, I love to hear that like, either way, of course, like, additional 10% is great, but

Stephanie Cohen 44:23

either way, but it just it became like, just it was it was amazing. COVID It was very unfortunate, very unfortunate time for the world, not just for our country. It was a very difficult time. But I think that it changed the nature of a lot of businesses. And it changed the way that we work virtually, that we never were forced to before whether it's children in classes, whether it's, you know, Zoom conferences who was doomed before like this.

Mariah Parsons 44:54

Yeah, yeah. I mean, this podcast probably wouldn't be here right like just the podcasting industry and just enroll it touches so many different different facets, verticals and interest rates. Yeah.

Stephanie Cohen 45:05

Yeah. So it was nice to see that it also related to the furniture industry and the design industry, and it had a good impact on that industry as well.

Mariah Parsons 45:15

Yeah, yeah. I completely agree. I mean, it comes up a lot, just I mean, ecommerce, too, as an industry, right, like, comes up, a lot of the industry's changed in the market. And now, you know, maybe we're going back towards retail, and maybe having more of a balanced but for a long time, it there wasn't right. So I do agree. Yeah, it's crazy, the outcomes of something that was so, so detrimental to go through for the world. I have one last question for you, Stephanie. So in terms of thinking about retention, for something that is your now something that your purchase frequency isn't going to be like, monthly or maybe even yearly? How are you thinking about customer retention in terms of like, okay, if someone is say, you know, five years down the road, they're like, Okay, I want to work with you again, because I've seen, like, their new trends, and I want to restyle or whatever. How are you looking at retention from that standpoint, because we get, you know, customers who, like every 15, every 30 days, they product needs to be replenished. But that's not, you know, unless it's one of those decor items, like a candle or something like that, that runs down, hopefully, someone isn't like needing to replace their sofa every year, right? So how are you looking at customer retention, while keeping in mind, like the purchase frequency of your customers.

Stephanie Cohen 46:38

So with the home, it's a little bit different. So you design your home, and hopefully you love it, and then you're good, you're good for a while you're good, you know, it's not about our business is not about you know, the pillows it was it's more about the actual furniture and the pillows are a beautiful add on. But what it does, is becomes word of mouth. Okay, so it's, it's not just you know, and a lot of our customers which fall into the higher end bracket, they have multiple homes, their children buy homes, their cousins buy homes, but, but even if it's their own, maybe it's their second or third home or it's a children's homes. But more than that, it becomes you know, what, we worked with this company, and there was, you know, gentlemen that I worked with in that company, and he was amazing. I know, like you're doing your house too. So then it becomes their friends, their friends, friends, their cousins, their cousins, cousins, and that's kind of how we retain our business. Because once it's done, it's done. It's not a sweatshirt, it's not something that you know, in three months, you're gonna be back and like trying to buy another, you know?

Mariah Parsons 47:47

Yeah. Okay. I love that. Yeah. So like very referral heavy of just like people being like, Oh, I had a great experience. You know, you should work with Stephanie Cohen and her team. They're awesome. Okay, that that makes a lot of sense. I think that's a great note to end on to we've a couple minutes. I know I've probably chatted your ear off, but it's an absolutely amazing.

Stephanie Cohen 48:08

There was so much fun.

Mariah Parsons 48:09

Oh, thank you. Thank you makes my day these are like the best things in the world. So thank you again for making the time.

Stephanie Cohen 48:14

Oh, my pleasure. I really it was an honor and I really had a great time speaking