Australia-based retailer LUC. Design, owned and curated by interior designer Lucy Given, is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. Using her 25-plus years of design and retail experience, Lucy has made LUC. into a destination for beautiful and functional “fashion, homewares, furniture, and art” — and she trusted Vend to take her from LUC.’s tiny starting location to a stunning, 145-square-meter flagship store in Tasmania’s capital of Hobart. We interviewed Lucy to learn more about why she started LUC. and why she chose Vend. Read on for the goods!
Tell us a bit about how LUC. got started. What are you all about?
I opened my store in late 2013 in a very small (20 square meters!) space in a tiny cottage in suburban Hobart. The brands I chose were new to Hobart, and I gained a following for providing great design and unique products. I quickly outgrew such a small store, but I knew that the next phase of the business needed to have an exceptionally good location and size — and just that something extra that would set me apart from other retailers.
The perfect space became available at the beginning of 2015, but we didn’t actually open in the new store until September of that year. We’re now housed in a magnificent 19th-century sandstone warehouse on the waterfront in Hobart; as a business, it was the best move I could’ve made. We now have 145 square meters of beautifully displayed fashion, homewares, furniture, and art, as well as a really strong customer following in store and on social media.
What’s your local community like?
Tasmania is a small island state, and the capital Hobart is a small city. Front and center in Hobart is the world-renowned art museum MONA, and many tourists come from all over the world just to visit the museum.
We have a really active art, festival, and design scene in Hobart, and we’re discerning about quality and provenance of product. Locals are really grateful to now have access to iconic design pieces not previously seen, and the tourists love the fact that they can see so much great design in just one store.
What brought you to Vend? How have you found it? Would you recommend Vend to retailers like yourself?
When I established the new, larger store, I knew that with the volume of product required for me to stock the space and the fact that I now had four staff who needed to know inventory and pricing, that I just had to be more accountable for the product.
I asked a friend who owned a local boutique if she was using a POS software brand, and she was using Vend. As we were starting out in the new store with new hardware, new stock, and new staff, it was the perfect time to start with Vend. I now often recommend the software to other retailers.
How did you find setup? What’s the specific setup like in your store? Are you using an iPad, PC, or other device?
Setup was relatively easy as we weren’t swapping over from another system. It was understandably time-consuming in the first instance — but now that we’re set up, any new delivery is easy to put into the system and the POS for our customers is painless, quick, and accurate. We were going to use the iPad but haven’t found that necessary as yet; we use one MAC terminal at our sales counter, and this works just fine!
Why are you passionate about what you do? What drew you to this line of work?
I’ve been involved in the interior design industry for over 25 years. Bringing my knowledge into a retail environment was a natural progression. When I transitioned into this new store, I knew I had to make my customers aware of why I do what I do.
I’m passionate about design, and my knowledge and experience of design product, designers, architects, and architectural projects is strong, but what I really wanted to impress was that great design need not have a hefty price tag. Having objects around you that bring you joy — objects you love and that resonate with you — means they have value. I’d love to say that I’m a minimalist, but in my line of work that’d be absurd. Rather, I think of myself as an “essentialist”: have nothing in your house that isn’t beautiful or functional.
What advice do you wish you’d known when you started?
Starting small really worked for me. I started small, but I had a vision of where I wanted the business to go. Don’t underestimate the power of a business plan. You hear this advice over and over before you start a business; don’t ignore it!
Once you start putting everything on paper (your ideas, your projections, your competition, your point of difference, how much you’ll spend on rent), the whole thing can then develop.
Be honest with yourself and with others. Don’t fudge the figures on a business plan to make them look good or to give you a false sense of achievement; if the rent is too high, look for another place. If you can’t afford the minimum opening order with a particular supplier, then get the brand you really want and spread thinner on the other brands.
What’s your best retail tale?
Too, too many, but most of them involve people who really just needed a hug! Retail certainly isn’t the easiest of service industries — and when people complain, what they’re really seeking is a solution. So if you can get to that outcome quickly, then all the angst that goes on before that can be alleviated. That, and give them a hug!