Future of Design & The Web Report

Apartment Therapy Design Evenings

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We had a sold-out crowd for our biggest panel of the year! Head below the jump to read about Maxwell's three 25 minute conversations on the future of design and the web, featuring:

2 Bloggers: Lockhart Steele (Curbed) and Margot Guralnick (Remodelista)
2 Magazine Editors: Amanda Dameron (DWELL) and Stephen Drucker (Everywhere)
2 eCommerce Site Experts: Charles Myslinsky (Keep.com) and Scott Ballantyne (Fab.com)

And please visit our Meetup page to sign up for next month's event! We hope to see you there.

Maxwell:
This is our biggest event of the year (in terms of numbers of speakers), so very excited to have you all here.

Welcome to our 61st design evening. Thanks to ABC, as always, and our wine sponsor, Markham wines.

As always, I'd like to start with some Apartment Therapy news:

We've reached 4,000 members for our Design Evening series - of course, they aren't all here tonight. It has a wide reach - we send the post that we put up afterwards, along with the videos, out to everyone, so be on the lookout for that notice via our Meetup page or on our Design Evening page within Apartment Therapy.

We also just ended (in Sept) our 4th annual Design Showcase - we featured "designs for the home". We had 80 submissions and chose 40 to feature. We happened to have 4 winners, all women. Every year we have people send us the designs and our prize is free advertising. We've found that when we feature these folks they move up the food chain and get picked up by stores.

Submissions are closed for the Room for Color contest. Please go and vote, there are some amazing rooms. As you'll see, people's photographs are really getting better, it's amazing. So, check it out.

First Guest Speakers
1st two guests - the Bloggers: Lockhart Steele of Curbed and Margot Guralnick, the New York City Editor for Remodelista.

Maxwell:
Our first guests this evening are two bloggers, Lockhart Steele of Curbed and Margot Guralnick of Remodelista. Lockhart is the proprietor of Curbed.com, a site that Forbes calls, "the granddaddy of all real estate blogs". Lockhart is also the proprietor of eater.com and rack.com. Margot is the NYC Editor of Remodelista, a one-stop sourcebook for considered living. She's written and edited for almost every extant and extinct lifestyle magazine in NYC, including House & Garden, Travel & Leisure, Real Simple, and Art & Antiques. She served as the Editor-In-Chief of Travel & Leisure's family magazine for ten years.

To start off, I always like to ask how people got started. Lockhart?

Lockhart:
I first started working for a shelter magazine called Cottages & Gardens in the Hamptons (like real estate porn for rich people). It was great, and at the same time I had a personal blog where I covered comings and goings on the Lower East Side, where I was living at the time. I had the idea to take what I was doing for my job, and then doing on my personal blog, and combining them.

So I was working on this in 2004, and all of a sudden out of nowhere Apartment Therapy launched. I saw this and was like, what's going on? I thought we'd do some real estate and interiors as well. So I got to know Maxwell fairly well soon after launch.

Maxwell:
I should say the panel is called the future of design and the web. So, we're starting around 2004 when this type of thing bloomed.

Margot:
I'm a bit of a latecomer to this party. I was a longtime magazine editor, but there was a new design site out there, Remodelista, that was really speaking to me. I was the Editor at T&L for a long time. While editing that magazine I kept trying to figure out how to get design into the mag. Every issue, the last page especially, was reserved for this. Then T&L launched a website and I got excited about that.

I wrote to the Founder of Remodelista, someone whom I met years earlier, and she floated the idea of me writing a book for them. Tomorrow is actually our last shoot for the book (out next year through Artisan). So along the way I became a blogger as well.

Maxwell:
So what was happening that made you keep going?

Lockhart:
I was writing for the NY Times real estate section, but I started curbed and all of a sudden I got all this feedback online, which was amazing.

Maxwell:
Was it the same for you?

Margot:
I like that you can post quickly and make someone's business so quickly. It just happens so fast.

Maxwell:
Given that both of you don't like approval, what do you think makes a good blogger?

Margot:
Well I think you still need high standards. You can be the editor-in-chief or the assistant, you can do everything, which is great (subject, photos, material). So it gets edited and there is a copy-editor.

Maxwell:
So how long does it take to go up?

Margot:
It depends on the theme of the week. Remodelista was written at (founder's) dining table for quite a while.

Lockhart:
Same here, it started at home first, and now we have all sorts of writers. Right now we're in about 20 cities right now. We give those editors huge leeway - they make the decisions in their cities. We do theme weeks as Remodelista does. Tomorrow we'll have 30 items on Curbed NY, but the editors probably only know about 2 of them at this point. So much happens so quickly.

Maxwell:
What doesn't go up?

Lockhart:
I try to steer us away from trade stories - don't want boring stuff. Need what real humans want to read. We want to be entertaining - Curbed's idea is to be interesting and keep real estate interesting. I literally walk around the office and say "don't be boring".

Maxwell:
Is that true from Remodelista's standpoint? Magazines do something very different and speak differently, so how is it different for you?

Margot:
Well, much shorter pieces for sure. There is a particular voice and point-of-view (unified, but not one particular look). Appreciation for Scandinavian design, small manufacturers.

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Maxwell:
It does have a defined look.

Margot:
It came very naturally for all of us - we share the same design DNA with our readers. We attract our readers according to that.

Maxwell:
I'm curious about this "let's not be boring", let's stay interesting streak. Do you see anything changing in that?

Lockhart:
If so I'm going to fight to make sure it doesn't change. Every once in a while we meet and talk about big ideas. We're constantly at war with the PR folks - they are the enemy.

Maxwell:
What do you mean?

Lockhart:
Well, more to do with eater, the blog we started. We do a thing called the "plywood report". We'd take photos of a restaurant before it opened and the PR folks would be all over us. It's ridiculous. We feel it's our responsibility to be a bit subversive.

Maxwell:
What about Remodelista?

Margot:
Well, we feel like we decode a lot of things in the industry that have been kept at arm's length in the industry for a long time.

Maxwell:
So a lot of things on Remodelista tend to be a bit more expensive. What's different about how you're approaching it versus the magazines?

Margot:
Our approach is very much that we show what we believe is a good value - sometimes it's something from Ikea, not just high-end. We show a lot of DIY projects as well. It's meant to be inspirational, and attainable.

Maxwell:
So you're both saying blogs are different, but how?

Margot: At H&G, it was extremely design- and architect- focused. We had certain ways we had to refer to certain manufacturers. It was very ad-driven. We couldn't offer alternatives to what we showed in House & Garden.

Maxwell:
See, so that's subversive. You couldn't publish a magazine and be that open, it wouldn't pay the bills. So how does blogging make money?

Lockhart:
Well, we try to write great content and put ads around it. Why it works for advertisers is that they know they are engaging with passionate people. We do a lot of offline events and we see the engagement of the community. Tougher to connect with Cond´ Nast in that way.

Margot:
We also sell ads, so very similar. I'm on the editorial side, so I don't know that side as much. We have a parent company as well, so we're doing well.

Maxwell:
You have a product archive as well which is pretty cool, do you make revenue from that?

Margot:
Yes, if folks click.

Maxwell:
I think most folks know these things are money-making. I'm curious - as this business grows, sometimes I feel like we are still at the early stage. Do you feel like, 10 years from now, your sites will look a lot different? As advertising becomes more prominent, will that affect how the site looks?

Lockhart: If we can convert it all to advertorial I'd be thrilled!
But seriously, one thing that's happening is that brands are changing the way of how they want to engage with our readers. We've building an advertorial team within curbed because we're creating partner content on the site. Our goal is to create partner content that is as good or better than our editorial team's creation for them. We make it obvious - right now we're doing a video series with Dyson. They are sponsoring interior designers talking about what's happening this fall.

Maxwell:
Is there anything they can't say? Like not mention Electrolux?

Lockhart:
Well, they aren't talking about vacuum cleaners, but design in general. It's allowed us to create these cool videos. The designers don't want to be mouth pieces for Dyson. It's worked well. It feeds a different level of engagement.

Maxwell:
And Remodelista?

Margot:
I see us growing in a similar way, too - but again, we care about our core so much that we won't let that go.

Maxwell:
I heard something about the fact that just writing for the web isn't a way to build a website.

Lockhart:
I worked at Gawker for a while, so I can see them saying that. We launched our site when it was a bit less crowded. We didn't spend money on marketing. To launch in 2012 is much different than it was in 2004.

Maxwell:
The conversation that goes on around the posts is the new content. That's why we structured our talk like this tonight - traffic on the blogs is steady, where Pinterests' traffic is sky-high. So, do you see the blog format changing? Are you worried?

Margot:
We are visually-driven and we work hand-in-hand with them, so we don't see this as an issue.

I imagine they'll be copycats and spin-offs, but it's been great for us. What's different with ours is that we filter our items quite a bit. If they want to pin it, great.

Maxwell:
So it is curated.

Margot:
Yes, highly.

Maxwell:
Do you see that shifting at Curbed?

Lockhart:
One thing I like is our readers are smart, and we get good tips. That being said, we get a wide variety of comments. At Gawker, their comments are that there is a lot of noise, but folks do want to talk, they are comfortable, and you get some good ones. And then I see AT, you get such nice comments on the site!

Maxwell:
Last question - what's one new thing you are doing in the next year?

Lockhart: Video is our thing. We want it in every city.

Margot:
Similar - we're already doing videos, and I hope this book comes out next fall as planned.

Maxwell:
Thanks to you both.

Second Guest Speakers
2nd two guests - the Magazine Editors: Amanda Dameron of Dwell media and Stephen Drucker of many publications including: House & Garden, Vogue, Architectural Digest, founder of the "Sunday Styles" section of the New York Times.

Maxwell:
OK, next up is the other side of things. My next guests started in print and are still in print, but are also moving to the web. I'd like to introduce two magazine editors: Amanda Dameron is the Editor-in-Chief of DWELL media (formerly just Dwell magazine). Through a rapidly-expanding offering of media platforms, Dwell inspires its community with smart and thoughtful ideas for modern living. Amanda leads all creative efforts across all platforms. Before Dwell she served as an Editor at Architectural Digest, where she worked with Stephen. Stephen Drucker started as a Design Editor when high-tech was the hot new book and the hot new style. He's worked at House & Garden, Vogue, Architectural Digest, and started the "Sunday Styles" section of the New York times. He's been the Editor-in-Chief of Martha Stewart Living and House Beautiful. Welcome to you both.

So, I want to get to the web, but I want to first start out with how you got started, as that informs everything.

Stephen:
I started as an architect, but after my second semester I said, "I'm never going back". So I went to the offices of House & Garden magazine, told them I was really interested in architecture and wanted to work with them. At the time it was a total growth industry. The assistants had assistants. I started at Cond´ Nast.

Maxwell:
At the time they had limos that drove editors around the city, right?

Stephen:
We had a book of car vouchers, and we could use them to go wherever.

It was due to the editorial director - his POV was that you had to live the life, have a wild, free, artistic mind to do a great magazine. He didn't want us worrying about every penny.

Amanda:
I tried getting a job in NYC and couldn't, so I went to LA and got a job in an independent bookstore. I applied for a job at Conde Nast (which I was totally not qualified for). I didn't expect a call back, so I was so excited that I forgot to ask where I would be working. So I started at AD, and that's how I met Stephen.

Maxwell:
So neither of you started as writers?

Stephen:
I did, but had no training. First day of work - Strunk & White was on my desk, and I was told that was my first job, to read that.

Amanda:
I started writing for a hip-hop culture magazine, so that's where I began. But when I got to AD, those copy editors ate me for breakfast. I really learned the ropes there.

Maxwell:
You told me you learned to write on the job. When you moved to Dwell, you said that came in helpful, as there is an art, science, and skill to it.

Amanda:
When I say they ate me for lunch, I'm saying that those who have that knowledge really held me to it. They beat the style out of you - they want your eye to hone in on the double-spaces, versus the gorgeous sentence. And it's a good way to start - with the building blocks.

And so Dwell, as a magazine, started 12 years ago. What was so exciting was that it was a group of people who had never worked for a magazine. They were re-writing the rules, which was great. So when I got there it had started falling into more of a format. But at first it was incredibly new.

Maxwell:
Was that fresh voice not sustainable?

Amanda:
I think Dwell's voice has always had a sense of humor and whimsy, but it's still smart and whimsy. The voices didn't disippate - it was more about how it was put together.

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Maxwell:
So what is different from the magazine vs. online voice?

Stephen:
Oh, completely different. The blog voice is the spoken voice - like someone speaking directly to you.

Maxwell:
Do you care whose voice that is?

Stephen:
Oh yes, very deeply. I don't believe most folks read design magazines, they just want the eye candy. The story is often the same. So when I went to House Beautiful, I turned the whole magazine to Q&A, which freaked people out, but it actually worked. People could read in bits, which worked.

Maxwell:
So it's really about the pictures?

Stephen:
Yes, primarily. Which is why Pinterest is so popular. But the words animate the pictures - they do have to work together to make it valuable.

Maxwell:
Okay, so here's a tough question. The magazine's have better pictures - bigger, glossy, not crowded. How is it better / different on a blog? Is one better than the other?

Stephen:
I think the online community is so clear about what it's doing - you know what you like, what you don't. It's a tribe, and you know who you're speaking to. Whereas in a magazine, you're trying to create a mag that speaks to folks all over the country.

Maxwell:
The tribe is big, and maybe not exactly yours.

Stephen:
Exactly. And there is so much institutional memory at magazines. Their success these days depends on freeing themselves from that. At Dwell it's a lot younger so you can get there easier.

Amanda:
That's true, in a way. I do believe that people enjoy magazines - they can pace themselves, enjoy the photos, take their time. When showing a picture you do want to talk about it, what's in it, etc. But you go online and people ask questions and they are answered real-time. Very different than just a static medium like a magazine.

Maxwell:
Ok, so how does the web work in tandem with the magazine? Where does it do the job of magazines, or not? And how have you overseen that growth?

Stephen:
I did it at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO) back in 2000 (1st generation of websites). It all depends on the company you work for.

Maxwell:
What were they thinking at MSLO at the time?

Stephen:
We were thinking really big. There is a tendency to build the web into a big, magical mysterious thing. It's a delivery system - and it's only as good as the info you put in it. Need to remember how info transmits in the various mediums. If the ideas are great, they will transmit properly.

I think editors need to think of the web as a fantastic way to deliver info. A big problem has been that magazines have thought of the web as the tail of the dog - but now it's wagging the dog. And they need to reconsider that relationship.

Amanda:
I think that, in 2000, that was the time (at A.D.com) when we were just copying and pasting comments in images. I was at the bottom of the totem pole - it was very much a vehicle for subscriptions and nothing more. Total missed opportunity.

Architectural Digest has been published since the 20's. They have an incredible archive. If Martha was really a leader, A.D. could have actually scanned the negatives in their archives and blown everyone out of the water. But they decided to not do that. There wasn't a lot of thought behind it. Like Stephen said, you have to be thoughtful about the medium - it's a different megaphone, you can't message in the same way. But it needs to be clear, and true.

Stephen:
Most people who go to a magazine website don't usually see the home page of the website. Most of the traffic goes to Flipbooks.

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Maxwell:
Why was there so much resistance to dealing with the website? Why didn't they see the power of this delivery system?

Stephen:
In the beginning, nobody knew if people would read the same thing in 5 different places, and watch on tv. We've now learned that they will.

Maxwell:
But you also said it's the voice. And on the web that's not edited. Is there something about the web's freedom that scared them?

Stephen:
I think it's more about the fear they had of giving away something for free. Photo shoots for magazines cost $25,000.

Maxwell:
So pictures are a big deal - you can take someone's article, excerpt it, and people will still read it. You can't do that with a photo. We ran into that at the beginning where photographers got all bent out of shape.

Stephen:
Once they lose control of the photograph, they lose it forever.

Maxwell:
So photographs are important. But having it go elsewhere, how does that worry the magazine?

Amanda:
You're working with the photographer - they own the image, not the magazine. You put it online, it's up there, it's posted, it's pinned - and the photographer's name fell off. That doesn't work for the photographers.

Maxwell:
So how do you do it on Dwell?

Amanda:
The photographer's name is always attached to the image as meta data. It's imbedded in the code - that's very important. That photo to photographer relationship won't get lost - we build that trust with them and that can't be minimized. You are protecting that relationship.

People are becoming more sophisticated with their photography - now, anyone with Instagram can run these great filters and produce great results. At one time, magazines were created by a privileged few photographers. Now that's not the case. You go to a furniture fair and everyone is taking photos, transmitting the message, etc. So we have to go beyond that.

Maxwell:
So you need good photographers, and they are expensive.

Stephen:
You have to decide - is every photograph a work of art? Needing the best photographer? Or do you want a mag with a lot of youth and energy? You just need to know what you want.

Amanda:
I'm so glad you brought up the fact that you brought on the Q&A for House & Garden. That was huge - you went forward and did that and it was a smash success.

Stephen:
I spent 25 years writing stories I knew no one read. And that's the essence of what it means to be an Editor-in-Chief. It's tough, but that separates the "chief" from all other editors.

Maxwell:
There's a serious filtering and curating that's happening. What the bloggers said to us is that they hire a stable of writers who have a lot more autonomy.

Stephen:
A magazine is like a movie - someone is spending an hour or so with it. You control it - you can't have a wrong note, or you'll lose them. You are the Director. It's very different from blogging, where you just let it rip.

Maxwell:
And like you said, no one's really coming to the home page of the magazine website.

Amanda:
Yes - the Creative Director said originally that a good issue is like a record. There are A sides and B sides, but regardless, it carries you through. It's pacing, not just everything at once. It has to sometimes be restrained.

Stephen:
If we took 5 magazine stories and you asked us both to lay them out, we'd both do it quite differently. The order, the pictures, etc.

Maxwell:
Where do you see Dwell being in 5 years?

Amanda:
It's Dwell Media because we do more than the magazine - a Design conference in LA, custom publishing, the web. So thus, the media.

In regards to the website, I came to Dwell to be strictly digital. My first task was revisiting 10 years of content and figuring out a new taxonomy for all images. I went through them, one by one, and assigned categories. I think that what you'll see is harnessing that full power in the next 5 years - we need a real powerful content management system to do that.

Maxwell:
Is it a problem that people pin the images?

Amanda:
I was really afraid at first? That photographers would lose control, etc? If you take something online and don't pay for it, you assign a value of zero to something you don't own. But we're very careful about going to photographers first and getting their okay. If it's not, we don't do it.

Maxwell:
Stephen, I can ask you this since you aren't attached to a magazine right now - who do you think is doing a good job of moving the magazine to the online format?

Stephen:
My alma mater, House Beautiful, has been doing some interesting work with Digimark (code in the page that lets you scan the code on the page and you get a video). It takes you deeper into the story. There aren't a lot of mags doing that right now.

The web for me is mostly news and research. Honestly, I don't think much about magazine's websites. I don't feel the same connection that I do to blogs. But I will always hold "World of Interiors" as the ultimate in the art of magazine-making craft.

Third Guest Speakers
Our last 2 guests - eCommerce Site Experts: Charles Myslinsky of Keep.com, and Scott Ballantyne of Fab.com.

Maxwell:
Our last set of speakers represent the newcomers to the field. The grey area that started with magazines and led to blogging is now being represented in this ecommerce platform. Please welcome two eCommerce Site Experts: Charles Myslinsky is the General Manager of Keep.com, a brand-new site that lets people keep, collect, and discover new products as well as buy them. They are similar to Pinterest, but they have a "buy" button. It is very much geared to being a commercial site. and Scott Ballantyne is the Chief Marketing Officer of Fab.com. Millions of people around the world use Fab.com to discover new designs. This is not a store, but the type of place where you create your own content. So the grey area between blogging and magazines has now come into the eCommerce arena. Scott brings over 20 years of experience from Vonage, tMobile, and others.

So as I asked the others, I want to ask how you got started, and how you ended up at your new companies?

Scott:
I grew up in Scotland and studied astrophysics - a far way from design and a long story in between. For those who know Jason Goldberg, the CEO of Fab, we've been friends for ten years and he worked for me when we were both at tMobile in Seattle, so that relationship was already there. When I learned about Fab and got the opportunity to be the head of consumer insights it was a no-brainer for me. It's a great collaboration between consumer insights and product. So I joined about 9 months ago and moved to NY.

Maxwell:
How old is Fab and how big is it?

Scott:
It was a VC company originally based on social media for the gay community. It was a great site, very vivacious visitors, but nobody was coming back. So we brainstormed on what we're good at and what direction made sense, and we quickly came to design. We closed the site in February 2011 and put up a splash page saying what we were doing. We opened on June 9, 2011 and got 650,000 on day one - we sold 4 items on the first day from all over the world. Now, 16 months later, we've got 8 million members in 26 countries and 500 employees throughout the world. We put up every day design objects, at every price point, every day. We're giving people a place to discover design - we really want to demystify design and build this marketplace. We work with 7,500 designers who really didn't have a place to sell what they were making. We love people who make stuff.

Maxwell:
Charles, how did you start, and how did you end up at Keep?

Charles:
I grew up in W. Virginia - not around a lot of design. I started in media - did two start-ups that were very tech-heavy. In 2010 I met Keep's founder, who had started About.com (which is part of Keep Media). We ask people to come help us build a store. We benefit when great destinations open that have great destination catalogs.

As more boutiques open online, how do we help people discover those?

We have been in the market for 11 weeks. Very new. We started building it earlier this year - we had a similar convo about the state of commerce. This word e-commerce we all talk about has been very much like looking at a SkyMall catalog for a while. We really wanted to turn it into an experience. And have it be about products.

I was looking around over there, everything here has a price tag on in (in ABC). It's an inspiring venue and we want the same.

Maxwell:
But they are different. So how does your site work, Scott? Can I call it a flash sale site?

Scott:
No. We have a team of amazing buyers - we call them product scouts (about 100 people). They are constantly looking for products we love. Nothing goes on our site unless Bradford loves it - we have a taste. You may like it, you may not. But we put stuff up that we think folks will love.

Every day, we put up 18 separate sales at 11am. We do the same thing at 7pm each evening - only one item. Last week we put up a bacon store, for example.

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Maxwell:
And the products you sell are limited?

Scott:
Yes and no. Sometimes we don't sell everything. Sometimes we put stuff up that we know won't sell, but wil make you smile. In June, we had a 1954 original Eames yellow chair (over $20,000). Next to animal butt magnets we were selling for $10. We sold out of both. We love handmade, authentically designed items. If you don't buy today, you'll come tomorrow because it's different every day.

Maxwell:
So you're buying these things, and people buy from you. What is the thinking behind the deep discount?

Scott:
We really aren't a discount store. We pride ourselves on finding unique items at great prices. If it's available on another site we'll try to make it competitive. But it's really about building unique design items. We want you to think of Fab as great design - no matter what the object.

Here's the fun thing - about one month ago, we did some interesting research on what was on our site. About 80% of it was not found out on the web. This is very unique stuff.

Maxwell:
Charles - how does Keep work?

Charles:
Keep is a lot like Fab. What we attempt to do is show you a diversity of items. Eye candy, then we want to draw you into the journey. The twist is that our inventory is the internet's inventory - we're just very good about letting you know where to buy it.

Maxwell:
But isn't Keep built by the readers?

Charles:
Yes.

Maxwell:
So the "we" is the readers.

Charles:
Right, it's people. They collect product, tell a story, and then we make sure they are surfaced.

Maxwell:
Are you looking at having people build their own stores? You're like the middleman? Or you just want people to post all of their favorite stuff? And how do you make money?

Charles:
Yeah, so this is my third startup. My wife looked at me one day and said she really wanted to build her own boutique. So, the ones that work in brick-and-mortar are expressions of taste. So, do we want our storefronts to represent their POV? Yes. The best ones in our community create a story about the products - they don't just say "these are our favorites".

Maxwell:
Kind of like Etsy?

Charles:
We don't allow people to open a store. We're looking to monetize by getting a percentage of what we aggregate and people choose to purchase?

Maxwell:
And how do you get paid?

Charles:
We really hope the cookies on the internet are working.
Right now, lots of people are selling product. There's been technology around for 15 years that says, if you send me a customer, I will give you a percentage (affiliate relationship). We're ultimately going to ask folks to share in the sales result.

Maxwell:
Earlier this week, we talked about that we never thought people would ever buy shoes on the web. Or buy sofas, expensive rugs. There may still be some that don't buy it online, but many are. How has the web changed people's buying habits?

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Scott:
We're selling multi-million dollars worth of furniture, jewelry, etc. These are expensive items. But once they trust you, and like your voice, they are comfortable. We are building a trusted brand, not just a flash site. Once you do that, people will come through your door. They may start small, but once they trust you they'll start buying much larger items.

Affiliation of brand and design - they trust us. We are a "house of brands", like Nordstrom.

Maxwell:
So Fab is like Amazon, but with a clear perspective and style.

Scott:
Listen, if we can aspire to be 1/100th the size of Amazon, that would be amazing. If you know you want a Keith Haring iPhone case, you can go to Amazon and get that case. If you woke up and knew you wanted a cool iPhone case but don't know who, you come to us and we help you figure that out.

Maxwell:
So Fab is really a destination?

Scott:
It's a brand. We'll deliver it how consumers want to use it.
We've got 25% of our revenue coming from iphones.

Maxwell:
What time of day is most popular?

Scott:
Because the stores start at 11am, the traffic starts at 11am. But we now have nightly stores. We try not to look by time, as people shop at all hours.

Charles:
I feel furniture is a great example of what we do. Buying a sofa is stressful - you have financial and space constraints, but you're thinking, does this go with my room? You go online and see staged rooms on the web. Sites like AT and Curbed help build a story around images. At Keep, we ask people to come back and "show and tell" after they buy, so we know how it looks in real life. That is a communication mechanism that is unique to the internet. Thanks to the explosion of cameras on mobile devices, this is a lot more possible.

Maxwell:
So if folks are purchasing from you guys, who are you replacing?

Scott:
I ask this of myself a lot. I don't want this to sound glib, but we don't feel like we have competitors because we've created the marketplace. We've created a place where people can find great items, well made, that are unique. And this isn't just American designers, we are working with designers all over the world. We're bringing foreign designers to the US. We're exposing people to more and more.

We're not just offering a different place to purchase, its different merchandise.

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Maxwell:
So you're just a few weeks into Keep.com - what's your competition?

Charles:
We're asking consumers to buy into a way of shopping that's a bit less directed. People are used to going online and comparison-shopping. We now want them to shop as entertainment. We see our biggest competition is having consumers think differently about shopping, so our competition is anyone who is making a publication that is making product, blogs. Some competition could come from Pinterest, Facebook, Google. We believe we have a mission that isolates us from others that depends on how much we'll trust people and not just math.

Maxwell:
Last question - what new thing do you see in the next year?

Scott:
The big thing for Fab is social and mobile. We started this journey as a relatively-large FB advertising type site. At this stage, 50% of our membership came from social. We didn't pay for them. But they came from social, which they trust. You ask folks about their best shopping experiences and its about walking down the street with their friends and window-shopping. The web made it all about the "I", but we want to change that back again to a window-shopping experience.

Global is also important and part of our growth - design is universal.

Charles:
I smile when I say this - we put this feature on Keep that is a slide, with a mustache on one side and a profile of a woman on the other. Look to us to keep inventing ways to discover new products. Entertaining and delighting you is our primary goal.

Maxwell:
Thank you all - this has been our longest evening ever, so thank you.



• Special thanks to Kayne Elisabeth Rourke for transcribing our Meetup!
• Special thanks to our volunteers, Gabriel Sperber &Amy Patrick!
• Images: Apartment Therapy

Thanks to our host and sponsor, ABC Carpet & Home!
The evening's wines were graciously donated by Markham Vineyards!


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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.

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