Neon Blvd has opened a new pop-up store in Notting Hill with the help of Appear Here, designed to reimagine technology retail as a fun, fashionable shopping experience. Founded by three young female entrepreneurs, the pop-up brings together smart new tech products and beautifully designed digital accessories in an environment that focuses on playful exploration.
'Traditional technology shops can be so stark and unfriendly, but the most exciting new tech products are not only those making our work more efficient but also those that can make our homes more welcoming, our style more creative, and our lives more playful,' says Therese Cappelen, Neon Blvd’s creative director.
The three founders have drawn on backgrounds in retail, design and tech to bring the store together. Grace Gould, who has worked for Apple and Index Ventures, adds: 'We started by curating different products from our network. Products we wanted to use and have in our lives. This is less about what technology is doing wrong and more about what fashion boutiques are doing right. We want to cross-fertilize the industry and apply what they do well to tech.'
Neon Blvd’s Notting Hill store looks more chic boutique than tech store, with wooden floorboards, painted walls and plants. In Gould's words: 'We wanted to create a warm environment that’s interactive. We love the phrase adult play. There’s nothing about the space that’s too tech focused, like all open circuit boards. I think that often ends up being intimidating. Instead, we wanted to create a space that was playful and accessible.'
Warmth is key for Gould, who creates it using colours, relaxing music, good lighting, exposed wood and plants. 'We’ve found that customers who visit our store, spend around 25 minutes exploring the space – bear in mind this is not a big shop. On average they’re spending around £150 on products they’ve never seen before. The sales have been above what we forecasted,' she says.
As this is Neon Blvd’s first pop-up store, the founders are treating it as a test to learn more about their customers. 'We used the store to finesse our concept and find out what works and what doesn’t. Next year, we want to test a bigger store in the US. Ultimately, it's all about reaching more people and connecting them to beautiful products,' says Gould.
Interestingly for a tech retail business, there are no plans to start selling online. For Gould, this is a strategic decision. 'We want to focus on creating the best experience offline before we sell online. We want to do it this way first so we can dig deep and find out who the customer is – a bit like a focus group. Once we understand them in our stores, I think we’ll understand them better online. This a space to build relationships, so we can tailor ourselves to them.'
Read an interview with Grace Gould here.