design:retail - July 2017 - 44
ADVICE FOR CREATIVES NAVIGATING THE WORKPLACE
one or more online creatives as partners and brainstorm
a variety of ways to develop and share ideas. List the top
two or three strategies and schedule time with the directors of your departments to present your ideas. Here is
one strategy to get you started:
I have some great ideas around the
consumer experience that I think would
be particularly appropriate to the online
side of the business, but there seems to
be a big gulf between the brick-andmortar creative and online creative. Any
suggestions on ways to find a common,
more productive ground?
- Yearning for Collaboration
Judy: I'm willing to bet that the online creatives have
plenty of ideas for brick and mortar, too. How can you
open up an idea exchange to both sides? First, identify
While it would be great to live in
New York, San Francisco or Miami,
such is not the case. I work in an
organization, I have a boss, and
it's all about the numbers and the
deadlines. I am trying to find ways to
get him/her to appreciate the "finer
things," sometimes pointing him
or her to websites/magazines. Any
thoughts on how to light the creative
fires of my spreadsheet colleague?
- Searching for Creative Kerosene
Judy: Early in my career, I worked as a visual merchandiser for a chain of specialty stores. We purchased props to create displays in our windows,
but we didn't go to market. We didn't even know
there were markets. We'd order our props from
factory reps like Charlie and Rosie. A charming
older married couple, they would fly in to Minneapolis from New York and lay out a wide variety of silk flowers on their bed in their hotel
room. As we looked on, they held up the handcrafted flowers one by one and presented each
Creative Collaboration Challenge
Who: Ask for volunteers to participate on teams that
combine one online expert and one in-store expert.
What: Blue Sky Idea Generation.
Where: Coffee shop brainstorm sessions for each
team of two.
How: Each expert offers his/her ideas for the other
expert's category. Collaborate and fine-tune the ideas.
Produce mock-ups of the team's favorite online and
in-store ideas. Present the ideas in a joint online and
in-store staff meeting. Department directors decide
which ideas move forward to be tested. What's next?
Continue this process quarterly or semi-annually. Even
if this is a one-time test, the door will be cracked open
to future idea-sharing and collaboration across online
and in-store teams.
to us with pride. We loved it when they visited
us-they felt like family. Earl Dann of Dann Dee
Display would come in from Chicago. He'd flip
open his briefcase (I can still hear the "snap, snap"
of the brass closures) as we sat side-by-side on a
bench in the food court at Southdale Mall. He introduced his store fixtures to us as if they were
sparkling and diamond-studded. But most exciting
was Ken Albright of Seven Continents, who flew
in from Toronto and entered our office, his arms
filled with vibrantly colored parasols from northern Thailand and other global treasures.
A few years later, my boss left the company and I
was named visual merchandising director. The sales
reps who came in began telling me about retail design markets in San Francisco and New York. They
raved about what they called "the show." Intrigued
with their enthusiasm, I talked with my boss about
the markets and, in time, I was given approval to
book my ticket to San Francisco for WAVM, the
Western Association of Visual Merchandising. Once
you've been to Oz-you know the rest. However, budgets were tight and the trips were seldom funded.
Down the road, I interviewed at a major retailer
and said that I wouldn't consider the visual merchandising position unless there was a budget to
go to market. They agreed, I took the job and off
I went to New York for the December show. A director in another department of the company got
wind of it and didn't think it was a good use of
funds. He told me, "We get our ideas here," as he
pointed to his head. I said, "I do, too, but New York
is a powerful idea generator."
Time passed, and lo and behold, he joined me on
a trip to New York. The two of us were standing in
Times Square together, surrounded by the energy
and lights and billboards, including a steaming cup
of noodles on a 25-story-high skyscraper. He looked