A family who travels together, stays together. The Litt family has traveled the world for fifty years, antiquing in over 35 countries! As direct importers, they went on too many buying trips to count. With weekly shipments coming into their retail store, "Mitchell Litt Home" always had something new for customers and designers to discover. The couple worked together 7 days a week, passionately growing their successful namesake business. Fortunately, their eldest son had the privilege (at the time, more like "obligation") to join his parents on these trips for well over half of those years. Naturally, after watching his parents, Kevin's interest and eye for seeking out beautiful antiques and objects developed. With the opportunity at such a young age, he created a career for himself in furniture design, manufacturing, and retail. Kevin has owned and operated factories, overseen all aspects of manufacturing, and developed and designed products. Together with his wife, he is excited to carry on the Litt family legacy into this new venture.
Dina Litt has spent over twenty years in advertising with a focus on brand partnerships & sales. Prior to her advertising career she spent her mid-teens and early twenties at the famous Fred Segal, Santa Monica. Combined with a passion for design and going through a home renovation of her own, Dina brings a natural eye for home styling, working with clients, and love for collaborations.
Some topics Michelle covers with The Litt's are their journey in taking over the family business, how COVID changed their business for the better, how their experiential retail events continue to create connections through retail and their process in seeking out an influencer who is not only a good fit for their brand but also fits within their budget. Kevin & Dina bring a wealth of industry knowledge, an eye for quality, dedication to sustainability, and vision for today's modern lifestyle. Our hope with this episode is that you walk away with ideas on how to stay inspired as well as creative ideas on how to continue to elevate your brand.
Michelle: Hey there. I'm Michelle Sherrier and this is the Retail Whore Podcast, The Stories and Lessons from a Life of Retail. Hey, guys, welcome back. It's Wednesday. It's a new episode of the retail horror podcast. I am still in Las Vegas right now. I happily go home tomorrow. I've been out here for just about three weeks and happy to say I've closed the books on setups for gift show and I've closed the books on doing the Las Vegas gift show as a buyer, and I'm happy to have a couple of days off. We've got we've got magic coming up and then I start getting my hands back in on my retailers. And it will be fantastic to get back in the stores after being gone for a couple of months. Both the inventory is always drastically different and the ability to look at product that you merchandise normally through clear, fresh eyes is always kind of my favorite. You know, after a while when you are merchandising stores and some of them when you're in them every other week, every couple of weeks or so, it gets hard. It's hard to see outside of the four walls and outside of the space that you display. And that's partly, to be honest, why I left Anthropologie was I felt like day in, day out for I think I was there seven years. You start to not be able to re-imagine spaces anymore because, you know, you kind of tapped out on where where you are, what you've done, what you can do.
Michelle: You start to kind of lose that, that vision. So every time I step back into my stores, after I've been gone for a while, it's always super inspiring to step back in them and have completely fresh eyes and really take a deep dive into how can we change them up and make them look fresh and springy and just overall new? So this week's guests are two of my favorite people. Kevin Litt and Dina Litt are a husband wife team. Kevin's father is Mitchell Litt. He is an iconic antique dealer who everyone who is in antiquities knows who he is. The two of them have taken over Kevin's father's business and have really turned it into their own and their beautiful mix of old and new. And both of their backgrounds that they bring to this business have really changed the scope of retail for the old Mitchell Litt brand, which is now concept. So I am super excited to bring this interview to you. So without further ado, here is Kevin and Dina Litt. Hey guys, welcome to the retail podcast. I can't thank you guys enough for taking time out for me because I know with working with you guys how busy both of you are. So thank you in advance.
Dina : Our pleasure.
Kevin : Thanks for having us.
Michelle: So before I start this whole interview thing, I have to tell everybody the back story. It's like I came to you guys. It's almost been a year now. I've been working with you, and I love everything about your brand. I've wanted to have you guys on an interview forever. Just because both of you have the most interesting story and DNA and I have a back story as well, which we'll get into. But this is one of those those recordings and those interviews I've wanted to do for so damn long, and so thank you for doing this with me now. So tell me a little bit about each of you, Dina. Go ahead and start with yourself and tell me a little bit about your background and what you do for the brand.
Dina : Awesome. Okay. So we're talking about concept, right? So I am kind of I mean, it's it's a two part business, right? So Kevin does the left stuff. I do the right. So we're basically two hands, always trying to do everything. I focused mostly on merchandising, working with you on that, which is awesome, keeping kind of more of a small product lineup, seasonal stuff as well. Focus on brand partnerships, overseeing marketing strategy, overseeing our agency right now on Facebook advertising, also working directly with our designers and our trade program and our sales staff and what else, so many different things. But how I got here, that's kind of the most interesting piece, right? I spent my first one of my first jobs at like 15 was at the famous Fred Segal. Right. And that's where I got to meet you, Michelle, which was so awesome. Got to work with you. Working at Fred Segal was really where I cut my retail teeth and I look back now having gotten into gotten going back and full circle into luxury retail now with concept house as that was meant to be it was meant to be that I spent ten years of my early days in my teens and twenties at Fred Segal, and I learned the retail business really from the experts, Michel being one of them. Fred Segal really obviously created experiential retail and it was a place of innovation and a place for people came to be inspired and connect with their community and shop incredible brands. So I really cut my teeth there. And that was that was incredible. But then I pivoted out of retail because I wasn't quite sure I wanted to be a shop owner. And that was really the top of what you could be doing at that time into advertising. So I spent the last 20 years in advertising, working in brand partnerships with some of the largest retail, our largest rather media companies out there advertising in movie theaters. I worked at Playboy, which was definitely another conversation we can have as well.
Michelle: The second person that I have had on this is worked in Playboy.
Dina : Awesome. Well, probably one of my best jobs I've ever had, but really, the end of the day, I love brands, I love creating, I love design, I love working with people, connecting people. And so when an opportunity came to kind of reimagine a family owned business that my husband was very deep rooted into and obviously COVID and all of that hitting, I said, yes, let's do this. Let's figure this out. And so, lo and behold, I am here today really creating a brand, recreating a brand that has a great legacy. But again, having to bring it up to speed today for what experiential, what retail is today, what e commerce is today, and reimagining it and being relevant. So that is me, the long and the short of it.
Michelle: Kevin your dad is Mitchell Lit. He is iconic in the antiquities world and you obviously have grown up under his wing. Tell me a little bit about your childhood.
Kevin : Oh, was great. I mean, you know, number one, my both my parents really like my dad might be in the name of on the Mitchell list being the name on the outside of the building. But both my parents spent every single day together as a child, you know, as I was a child working at the store. And, you know, and because it was such a family event, my brother, my little brother, who was four years younger than me, really never really took that much to it. But but we would go on trips and all of our trips were still like buying in Europe, buying in Asia, doing all that stuff, and even at such a young age. I mean, it's just but just so much fun. So I always love that. And so I grew up traveling around the world with both my parents, with my dad alone, buying antiques, looking at factories, all that kind of fun stuff in every nook and cranny of the of the world. And it was a you know, it was a great experience to try to learn all that stuff. I mean, you know, learning antiques and and the. The furniture world in general was a was was a great experience as I was a. Growing up? I would say.
Michelle: So. So. So the back story with DNA. And I like when Jill, who's our rep for Steven Young, Jill had said, Hey, my friend, my childhood friend Kevin and his wife have a store. They'd love to talk to you. And Dean and I get on the phone and she's talking about being at Fred Segal. And I was talking about I always give everybody my background. I had stores of Fred Segal, yada yada. Anthropology, started my own brand. This is what I do now. And DNA starts going, Wait, did you have the store with menswear and blah blah blah? I'm like, Yeah, it's just like And you weren't married then to this guy with long hair and like, yeah. And she's like, I think you were my first boss.
Dina : I'm like, What?
Michelle: And mind you, you were 14 and I think I was like 27 then. And it's like to have this full circle like years later is mind blowing to me. And it's like, I can't ask for a bigger gift. It just blows my mind. But more importantly, going to your guy store is like, I'll be on I I knew Mitchell at name. I think everyone in the industry knows Mitchell and let's name I've never been there really I've always just known the name. So going there and is this your dad's is this the original location. Didn't you have a couple of occasions? But is this one.
Kevin : Of the you know, there were a couple we've had a couple of different ones. But but really, at the end of the day, it was always just here on Ventura Boulevard in a couple of stores, a couple of occasions. But we built a building and eventually moved in there.
Michelle: So you guys built this building?
Kevin : Yes.
Michelle: Oh, I had no idea. So so how many square start with how many square feet the store because it's freaking massive.
Kevin : That's about 20,000 square.
Dina : Feet.
Michelle: Which is just in its three levels.
Dina : For better or for worse.
Kevin : Yeah.
Michelle: Yeah, exactly. And the bottom level is like literally where I lose my mind. I mean, my mom refinished antiques when I was a kid and they were like all the big old American oak, and they were all like the feel and like, you know, she has that. I've grown up around that, but not not English antiques. They've always been American and they're always very you can tell American antiques from from European going through the belly of that building and like the from head to ceiling the chairs that this that that is like mind blowing. I mean, I it's like a kid in a candy store and then to go upstairs to the main floor is massive. It is. And then a third floor that still has its I know we're still going back and forth with how it's being developed, but it's basically still another however many thousand square feet is just mind blowing that you guys are like hamleys because your dad, when he did it, wasn't it like stack it high and watch it stack it high?
Kevin : Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, it was the eighties in the nineties, so. Absolutely, you know, as you said, you'd love it. We still we still put you all the time, stack it high and watch it fly. And it worked. And it worked for a long time. Obviously, today is very, very different than than back then. But but, you know, it's still the same thing. People are still looking for beautiful stuff. So whether they're finding it in that stack at high kind of world or it's a little bit more displayed.
Michelle: What love?
Dina : I don't know. I think so much has changed, obviously, with just with just that term that you use. Oh, yeah. Typical retail today. People don't necessarily walk into your store. Right. They find you through so many different outlets. And that was how it was done before. Right. People were waiting by the door for you containers and you stacked it up and it literally product flew out. But retail has shifted.
Michelle: You guys so.
Dina : Far from.
Michelle: That and then just offload the container and people were like.
Kevin : Buying. Yeah. People would just come and take it like and they would just like wait. And so it was yeah. I mean, yeah. There was also the only way for them to ever know what was in the store was to drive.
Dina : Their right.
Kevin : And to come see it. So and we didn't have like inline goods type of stuff all the time where it was Burn Heart or something like that. That was, you know, a manufactured goods. These were basically one offs. So so people came a couple of times a week. Sometimes some people, you know, just to see like, oh, what's new? And that was that was, you know, that was the way that that obviously shopping was back then. It was a very different but fun nonetheless, a little easier.
Michelle: So how did you guys meet?
Dina : Oh.
Michelle: We I see out there.
Kevin : That story that was in high school, we were set up by a couple of friends and on, I guess, a blind date and. And dated for a while and then separated for a while. And then right, right after college got back together. And we've been together ever since.
Michelle: How many years?
Dina : A long time. How many years? 25. 25 years.
Kevin : Something like that? Yeah.
Michelle: And two kids.
Kevin : Two kids.
Michelle: So this whole time you're doing the grind of Michael. So we were you because you do manufacturing and whatnot on your own. Were you in your dad's store or were you doing your own hustle? And Deena was doing marketing, and you guys had two separate careers.
Kevin : Yeah, we were doing a couple of different things. Dina had her own career, and she was hustling, doing all that. I, I have a couple of different jobs, I guess, all within the furniture industry. So I was doing a lot of design for both a company that we helped start years ago in, in Vietnam. And I moved out there and, and helped start a company called Theatre Alexander, which was a wonderful.
Michelle: Furniture production.
Kevin : Of furniture manufacturer, and started off in a small little factory with only several people in it in Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City before we had normalized relations with the United States. So there was really no business being done there. And finally, when we when we finished and it sold off, it was several million square feet and several thousand people. So very, very different. Fun growth to have watched that over the years. So I was doing that. I was traveling all over the world. I had started a few different brands of manufactured furniture at the time and and designing for other brands as well.
Michelle: So many of those brands.
Kevin : Yeah. Yeah. I understand. You know what the goal for me is what I do for those people, I should say, and all of my my my clients is to make them look good. It's not about me looking good. It's all about making them look good. So, you know, the the design always is with their name on it. And, and that's just kind of like the niche that I found for me was, okay, let's just help somebody look a little bit more. I do more traditional stuff because my background and all that stuff. So my goal was always kind of to not be in front, not say like, Oh, I'm working for company X, company Y or Company Z, really? And just helping them make themselves look good. Some of these people have a little ego or something like that, I should say, and it's wonderful, you know, but, but to to put your design in front of them and then they end up putting it out to the world and saying, oh, you know, and coming up with a story as to how they thought about it or something like that.
Dina : That's a secret. Private. Yeah.
Kevin : So it's a little. It's a little. Yeah. So I like to keep my design clients a little. You know, they, it's a, it's a quiet thing. However, we know most of them, I would say.
Dina : Visually a lot of like you, but I witnessed all this, right? So because you were so knee deep in antiques and understanding design and value and good design, that's why you got hired by all these people, because you could reproduce, you could create reproductions of these looks. You had great a lot of creativity that you brought them today. What I see a lot of is interior designers taking lead on furniture design. So it's a different world, I think now. Absolutely. And brands want hot furniture, interior designers to create a line for them, which is different. And you're more rooted in furniture design. Neither one is better than the other. However, you're more rooted in function design, maybe value also.
Kevin : So your engineering, I mean, there's so many different.
Dina : Parts to exactly exactly.
Michelle: What at what point did you circle back around and start becoming involved in your your father's business?
Dina : I kind of maybe.
Kevin : 15 years ago or something like that, I started doing that as well. And so it was fun to be able to work with my parents and working on in retail, but then also having to take off and fly somewhere and travel for a week or so or two weeks. So it was a good balancing act. But you know, the good part about having your dad as a boss is he understands that. And it was a good relationship for us to he he he didn't question it.
Dina : But also too, he was both your parents were had worked their entire lives, which is something that we both value so much and respect and what they've built here. But they were also getting older, right. And starting to think about retirement or handing over the reins. And you were part of that transition probably over the last ten years. Yeah, maybe a longer transition than we had anticipated. Yeah. And not even one that we knew we wanted to be quite frank. Right. We didn't know if we wanted to be in retail or ever have a brick and mortar like we ended up with, right?
Kevin : Yeah. Much less 20,000 square feet.
Dina : Yeah. Yeah.
Michelle: No, the.
Kevin : Big, big demand is there.
Michelle: Is it was it really COVID that literally just like pushed it into.
Dina : Your laps? Yeah. I mean.
Kevin : Kind of I think it's more about what, what more importantly, I think it's more about what like Dina and I to say, let's do this together versus, you know.
Dina : Versus when you were transitioning. Yeah. So into taking over.
Kevin : So we had yeah we're.
Dina : From your parents.
Kevin : Purchased the business and, and this is right before COVID and then like COVID hit and we're like, whoa, you know what? What are we supposed to do? And we'd had another location and we were going to rent out this location and.
Dina : We were downsizing retail. We didn't really necessarily want a huge brick and mortar space if we were doing anything right. I think that was fair to say. However, COVID kind of made us pivot because people went back to really, truly, you know, creating space for themselves at their homes and reimagining their homes and obviously being stuck in their homes. So it created an opportunity for us, I think, to do something different and unique. And because so many mom and pops and really specialty retailers over the past ten years had gone out of business, not been able to sustain. Thomas We kind of look at each other. We're like, All right, should we do this? Because the industry, the home decor industry and furniture industry provided an actual opportunity now again, and it did for us. So much investment was happening in that space. And so we kind of look at each other. We're like, all right. And I personally was I had started a really incredible experiential brand called Local Mercato, and I had done that for the last four years and those in-person events.
Michelle: So that.
Dina : Obviously would.
Michelle: Change that as well.
Dina : Exactly. March of 2020, I had my last wellness event at the Griffin Club here in Los Angeles and looked at my business partner. We're like, Oh my gosh, do we really pull that off? And then everything shut down? And so when everything shut down, obviously we all went into our own private like, you know, I can swear I know you love we love this for you and I. Total shit storms and survival mode, right? For our families, all of it. So at that point, my business that I created, enjoyed my experiential business obviously was event based. So in person it was not going to do anything for a while. And I kind of found myself like this pivot point. And again, we had worked together years ago. I mean, Teeny did not like this. And I coming off of a two year remodel of our personal house, I love design. I literally I wish I was an architect. I wish I wish I had studied architecture. I wish I was a trained interior designer. I've always it's been a passion of mine. So and I've always admired what he's done and what he's brought to the industry in terms of furniture design.
Michelle: So so do you, Ricardo, is that still an entity or did you just shut the whole thing down? Are you going.
Dina : Know, it's actually physically an entity. I just was talking to my business partner about all the taxes we're paying last year and now we probably have to dissolve it, however we have pieces of it that we're able to work on still, which is great together. So yeah, no, that is definitely a side dish. However, I envision and have already started to bring in experiential events into our store because we have a 20,000 square foot space. So we have had a couple events that have been really successful. Again, we're kind of toe dip in the water because of COVID and in person is really challenging. But we've had some great success in bringing small groups, in having happy hours. We did a holiday event and then we're going to be doing a designer dinner party in the spring. So we're looking to really bring some of those connections that I made into the store, and I'm all about experiential retail and creating connection through retail, and.
Michelle: That's what I know. Like, I'll be honest, like, I think right now everybody in retail has to think about things outside of the box. And what I love is that. Both of you are taking what you've done in the past, and they're kind of all hit the same sector and now merging into this beautiful new reincarnation of now it's called Lit Concept House. But your Kevin, your manufacturing, you're starting to take the older pieces of furniture and starting to put new modern furniture movement, modern fabrics on them. Dina's starting to do these in-house events where it's like this beautiful mix of new retail because honestly, retail's never going to be the same again. And honestly, I don't think it should be the same again. Like, I feel like COVID was kind of a gift in the sense that like, as horrible as it was, it really kind of turned the tables on everybody, how they were doing it, and this is the way we've always done it, or people that were not comfortable taking risks. This was kind of like the universe's way of saying like, okay, get out there now. Like, you don't have a choice. Like, go on. And you either sat with your feet in the mud and went, No, we're not changing.
Michelle: We're not changing. And those stores are slowly going away. Or now you start looking at things in a completely different light, which is what I love. Hey, guys, I hope you are enjoying this episode. I am going to break in here for just a moment because I have a super exciting announcement and I am so excited to share it with you. As of yesterday, February 1st, we have our first official sponsorship and I am beyond pleased and excited to tell you that it is one of my favorite showrooms. Fine lines with locations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Seattle. They have some of my most favorite lines and some of my most favorite humans that work for them. So it brings me great pleasure to say welcome aboard fine lines. We are so excited for this partnership and we are so excited that you are our very first sponsor. And now back to your episode. Talk to me more about the in-store events. And you also are you have something else you're changing and bringing into the business as well to kind of expand on that lifestyle, environment and change of retail landscape.
Dina : So much of what Kevin and I looked at each other and said, Oh my God, are we going to do this? And what are we doing? Was we have this space. So if we're to use this space, we need to create something that, first of all, it has to evolve all the time. Bottom line, retail cannot be stagnant. So we had to look at the space and go, okay, what are we going to do here? How are we going to reimagine this? How are we going to keep people coming through it? So that is something we look at on a daily basis. We took a step back and said, okay, this is a lot of space to have. We would love to bring in a couple partners. All the inspiration comes from experiential retail. Fred Segal was walking into a space and having a coffee, having the latest fashions and having and being able to be part of that. If we can bring an ounce of it in to our space, that would be incredible what that looks like we are working on right now. We have a coffee partner that we think might come in in the spring. We're super excited about that partner. I think that'll be amazing.
Michelle: Just just to have people that are coming off of the marmalade like I'm going to wait. My my name is in the list. I'm going to go walk around next door. Oh, I'm going to grab a coffee walk around. I mean, I think that's I mean, you had talked also about wanting to do chocolates. And I just think that's so and your events of all kind of brought in some of these elements. Are they is this like a testing thing for you or is this just throw whatever the wall and see what sticks that is in your wheelhouse that you've known so, so well of doing events?
Dina : So thank you. Well, so much of what I see here in the opportunity of working, first of all, Sherman Oaks, we're in this incredible neighborhood where so many amazing families are. There's a lot of new houses, new development, all of that. So there's a massive opportunity to create experience. And so much of what I love growing up in Santa monica, walking down Montana Avenue, was that experience of having, you know, having a pastry with my my mom or my friends, right? Growing up and running into this store, buying this like the touch and feel of retail. I think it can still exist if you do it right. And so that is our motivation right now is to try to figure out the best way to do that. Obviously, we are rooted in antiques, we're rooted in upholstery, we're rooted in what we're doing here. But yeah, so the vision is, yeah, a coffee, a coffee partner in the spring, maybe, maybe flowers, maybe chocolates, dessert, that type of stuff. Anything to complement what's next door? Like you mentioned, marmalade is an incredible local restaurant next door, big partner of ours as well. And so anything that can kind of complement that experience, like you said, you know, you're having you're having lunch, but then you're also going to be able to grab a candle or eyeball a table or purchase a pillow, you know, that type of thing.
Dina : So we are definitely working on that and see that as kind of the 1 to 2 year plan we're in year almost year one right now. So that is something we're working on right now. So hopefully we can bring that out and then again make it something where locals can pop in. Designers we might be working with like a wallpaper company. You know, there's other things that we're going to do as well to speak to the design community. So again, making it a sense of community shopping, commerce, all of it all in one. And it's happening. It's absolutely happening. People who walk into our store, we bring joy like it's they're happy. Most of the people I would say the customers that walk through are lovely. And I, I haven't always said that about retail. I mean, I think it's difficult when you're dealing with the public. Clearly there's always one or two. But I would say eight out of ten people who walk through our store purchase and come back and they're lovely or they're interested or are they aspire? You know what I mean? To to buy some things.
Kevin : I think the most the most interesting thing now for me is is watching people come through. But it might be on a Saturday when they're waiting for their seat next door at the restaurant and they come through. But the young people. Yes. And the young people who come in.
Dina : People young people all have.
Kevin : But no twenties and thirties, which have traditionally never, ever like nobody has ever purchased like that from us. Do you know what I mean? Like it's always an older clientele, basically, you know, people who have a little bit more disposable income, all that kind of stuff. But but now these, these a lot of kids who come through and they're just their dwell time is so high, they're sitting there like looking at everything, like it's a museum, like looking around, and they're just in love with seeing something that they had never seen before. And so that's the most interesting thing to me is like watching watching those kids.
Dina : She's sort of like I people.
Kevin : Yeah.
Michelle: Well, you know, I, you know, I feel because Dina has talked about like I know you guys do promotions and I know Dina works heavily with the influencers and it's like that whole, that whole demographic or that whole just. Way of working in retail. I don't think retailers understand the value of that. And I think retailers, when they hear about like most most of them work on fees or whatnot, but I feel like they hear the amount or whatever you have to give up. I think that they choke up and just go, nevermind, we can do it or not. Tell people about the value of now what is truly the way retail is going now. Like, you know, retail is like it's literally it's an open game now, but influencers have a giant, whether you like it or not, have a giant amount to do. It is a talk a little bit about how that works for you guys as a brand.
Dina : Right? No, great. Great question. Obviously, right now you can't just wait for people to walk through your door. It just does not happen. So in taking a step back, knowing, all right, we don't have a huge budget, how are we going to get our name out there? Even when we reopened in March, I look to partnerships, so a couple really incredible influencers fell into my lap. They were we were introduced. Some were not a great fit and then others were an absolute slam dunk. And the way we were able to work and figure out if the partnership was was meant to be was I looked at first of all, do they love design? Do they have a similar aesthetic? Can they complement our aesthetic? Who are their audiences like? Who are they talking to? Are they our customers? And just kind of like checking off all those boxes and looking at that influencer as a whole. Lovely women that I worked with. I had the pleasure of working with Whitney Port, who is just a lovely woman. She's she is very into design. She loves eclectic looks, and she's just really open and wants to want that one of a kind look. So that brand, her brand aligned perfectly with us.
Michelle: She did Whitney picks. Right.
Dina : Exactly. So yeah. So I hopped on a call with her actually. She came to our first event, bought some stuff, and then I set up a call with her. And during that call I said, I said to her, I'm like, What works for your audience? And that was a big thing for me. I'm like, What? What are your audience? What do they want from you? They want they want to know what I like. They want to shop what I like. And so by understanding what works for that influencer and they know their brand, they know their their audience much better than I would, I wanted to align something that would make sense, you know what I mean with our store. So Whitney came in, we shopped together, she picked a few pieces. We brought them back to our house, we installed them, a couple worked, a couple didn't. And those were her pieces. She selected an antique mirror that she does all of her selfies on, which is incredible and it's gorgeous. It's and.
Michelle: Advertising. Advertising, advertising. I mean, it's amazing.
Dina : It's amazing, but it's authentic. That's a big piece. So I only wanted to work with people who were authentic, real people who anyway. And just that was a big a big piece of it that aligned with our brand and that we're also good people, people that I wanted to be our spokespeople. So that was great. And then she also then came back in the store and it was around. I was like full time. So she just came in and picked a bunch of other pieces because since everything is one of a kind, we had a few pieces in our house already. She couldn't necessarily resell those. So we went. She came back and picked several pieces and then we did the Whitney picks and we promoted that on our website. She promoted that in stories and on Instagram posts and then email as well. So depending on who you work with, kind of understanding what works for them. Yeah.
Michelle: I mean, what I love right now watching through your Instagram is both how you're doing the collaborations, but how, what a beautiful mix of and it really started to look super dialed in in the last six months of antique and modern and Kevin's furniture production that are modern pieces mixed with antiques. And what a beautiful mixture is that right now as far as design, it's all about that mesh of old and new and it's like you guys, it really started to look like on Instagram wise Instagram, your concept or concept home or lit concept.
Dina : House that were lit lit with two T's concept house.
Michelle: Which you're I mean, your Instagram is obviously beautiful, but it really started in the last six months ago is where I really started to see like the upholstered furniture and like the old mixed with the new and like even like some of those, like one of the vintage stools that has a modern piece of ethnic fabric that's. Purple and pink. And you know, the mix of it's just it's it's it's turned into it's evolved into this insanely beautiful mix and marriage of old and new. And it's like, I hope obviously you guys know this, but I mean, it's really beautiful to watch from the outside as well as being involved in it, but it's like to watch it from the outside cause I'm only there every couple of months or so, but it's like it's insanely beautiful. So.
Dina : Thank you, Michelle. You held a lot your.
Kevin : Big your big piece of why it.
Dina : Looks so I guess shuffled around. Well can I can I make you embarrass you as well? Like the other thing, to be a small business last March, we're like, how? How are we going to get our name out? How are we going to make the store look beautiful? You know, where are we investing our money? Right. And so right away, obviously, the merchandising piece was massive. So leaning into good partners like you, who I know will be there for us every other month or so to make to take one big thing off my plate that I can do. Okay? But you can do a lot better, you know, and.
Dina : So.
Michelle: As far as a merchandisers dream, I mean, it's like walking through the belly of that building and like being able to pull out, like we did the room with all the clocks or even the room with all the smoking room, the gentleman's room with all that. I mean, that was like I mean, that was like walking through the bowels of Disneyland. To me, it's like.
Dina : Like, let's get you are so creative. I don't know how you see it. I mean, you walk in and you're like, I remember the first day you walked in just to, like, put it on you for a second because you're amazing the first day when you walked in to work with us, like looking through everything the way I saw you group everything and create these collections and these stories in every little vignette of our store was just awesome. I mean.
Kevin : I learned a lot. I was I was sitting there and I was taking notes. I'm like, Oh, remember if you remember asking, like, why do you do it this way? And not diagonally? I see how you're.
Michelle: Looking at me and the angles, everyone.
Dina : Yeah.
Kevin : Is it very interesting to see just the methods of of your madness.
Dina : But you also, you also dusted off what was really great being again, we didn't want to we weren't able to spend a ton of money to launch. Right. So you dust it off. So many pieces of furniture and accessories and stuff and you helped us reimagine them and they look beautiful and they sold. And, you know, that was a big piece of this as well, was not we had we have so many kind of like big things to kind of create themes around. Right. But you didn't make us go invest in more stuff or.
Michelle: Yeah, no.
Dina : A lot of which was wonderful. I mean, even for holiday, right. We I'm like, hey, here's my plan. And you and I have strategized about how to use what we have, right? The white swans and the stained glass. And then how do we add to that too? And buy some stuff like that has been a true gift in working with you is again understanding our resources. And my gosh, helping us reimagine.
Michelle: This isn't supposed to be about me, but.
Dina : You know, but I just.
Kevin : But the one thing that I do, I just just want to circle back to one thing that you just touched on in terms of like that, that the modern mixed with the antique and kind of how that all works. And but one thing is, is actually so I don't really view it as very new because I've been doing that for decades, decades. I mean, it did it in in Asia. We moved furniture over there and used a the factories that we had access to over there in order to do the same thing and then shipped it back just because it was cheaper to do there then to do here and and productions better and all that other stuff. But, but, you know, this is still the fun part of like kind of taking these old things that are better made than most things that you can get today. And what can we do to it to make it a little different today and kind of meshing those two worlds of of manufacturing and and antiquities and the design and all that stuff, those things together. So it's a lot of fun to be able to do that. So then we're able to do that with our customers and do some interesting things that maybe other people aren't necessarily able to do. So it's, you know, it's a fun. It's a lot of fun to be able to sell one of a kind. It's also very hard.
Michelle: I mean, like your team there. What I love is that know, people come in and see X, Y and Z and then take it on a memo. And you guys have the most amazing team of guys that I. Honest to God, like out of all the stores I work in. These two are like the sweetest. They're on it. They're super fast. I don't.
Dina : Literally.
Michelle: Pick up anything. It's so weird, but they've been there forever. Like, how long have those guys been there?
Kevin : A long time. I mean, over ten years. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, so on average, most of our employees up until just lately, just because we had some turnover with COVID and all, but we're talking an average of 25 years.
Michelle: That is I mean, that is phenomenal and that speaks volumes for. But these guys like I can only imagine the care that they take for the designers that are listening or retailers are listening to because I'm one one of the retailers, Barber Mooney, who owns Daisy's Mercantile up north, is like, I saw her the other day and she's dying to come to the store because she she's in a a historical building and a historical block. She's redoing it. She has this love of antiques and she's like, I'm dying to go there, but I'm just waiting till I know when I can buy. And because she is, like, coming there, like she was the first thing she said to me yesterday when I met her for the first time. But. But your guys like, you know, the care that they take. I can only imagine. Obviously, they take the same care with your customers and going into people's houses, going into people's houses as delivery people or helping set things up, you know, obviously you want the best of this. And these guys, I have to say, like, are just I adore them.
Kevin : So not only that, I mean, not only thank you and and they take a lot of pride in the work that they do. And and even better than that is their friends and they're good guys. So it's like it's even more fun to be able to. Yeah. And so I don't mean that they're friends of ours, you know, they're all part of the family. So it's very nice. It's, you know, you don't dread going to work because you hate the people that you work with. You really love the people that you work with. So it's really neat just to, you know, it makes it so much easier when, A, they're good and B, they're.
Michelle: Well, at 20 years, they're at that point, they're basically family. And that's the beautiful part about having building relationships like that, where they end up being like family.
Dina : Well, let's be honest, too, right? Getting stuff these days is a pain of every and everyone's.
Kevin : Yeah, it's not easy. So you've got to.
Dina : Hold on to the best people. But having people that care and are good at what they do is like it's gold. And so these two guys, I remember last two weeks ago, we had a designer walk in and like the afternoon and it was a massive project and I think he took out 42 pieces right from us, which was incredible and he was lovely to work with. But I, we turned to the guys and we're like, you just got back from another install. Can you guys just eat really quickly and put everything 42 pieces in the truck and install and stay late till 830 tonight? They're like, totally. So they're they're incredible. They will do anything. We love them and they anyway. Yeah. So we're super grateful. They're like our heartbeat and yeah, we're hiring too. We need more people. Yeah.
Michelle: Right. I want to ask you guys because as designers and as creatives, I always want to know how you guys stay inspired. I know you you love Sam McGill, but tell me a little bit about each of you. Tell me a little about what inspires you. Kevin, because you are you've gone literally everywhere in the world. Like what? What does it take to gob smack you? Because I know when you've seen and done it all, it takes a lot to gobsmacked you. So how do you get inspired? What gobsmacked you?
Kevin : You know what I think is interesting because I think lately I think it's actually changed a little bit. Like, I love anything really well done, anything just well done to just an extreme point. And I've really I think I've learned to find some of the smaller details and really like kind of nerd out about those types of things. And that's what gets me super excited is those little details, the way that something's put together, the way the care and with somebody like made something and I think simple. Give us furniture. I mean, you know, and looking at a piece and an old one and you see, you know, knowing how much time it takes for me to say like, oh, I want to make that right now. Right. And so I would know my main hours, my labor costs, all that type of stuff. And, and then I would know, like, oh, what am I going to do? I'm going to figure out a way to shortcut that by putting it on a C, C first and then finishing it off with the hand or something like that. But when you look at the old stuff and you start to say, Oh my God, some guy sat here and took two months out of his life to do this and look at the care and the quality at which he actually finished this absolutely beautiful thing, you know, and then and then finding that 200 years later looking even more beautiful because it's had the time of patina and that type of stuff that makes it look even better. That's what really gets me super excited. So I could just walk into a store and see one piece and just absolutely freak out over just this one little thing and just like, Oh my God, I think this is just so gorgeous. How do I find a way to get that in my house is basically, you know, it's like I just love seeing really well done, mostly old stuff, but there's plenty of new stuff that's absolutely fantastic to today. So, you know, but traveling and I mean.
Dina : Oh, maybe mangoes there. Mangoes here. Yeah. Ah, doggie. Yeah.
Michelle: So, so you geek out on the production and DNA geeks out I'm guessing on the overall.
Dina : Visual cheese product develop. I mean you he.
Kevin : Love I love really nice looking stuff. Yeah so I love it but like, I mean, you know, and again looking at I mean today, all we can really do is look online, look in magazines, you know, kind of go around your own neighborhood. And, you know, neighborhood is a loose term all over LA and stuff like that. And to really see stuff and to see just people who do things really, really well. And that's kind of the way that you can get inspiration today. But I love good design. I think Dina Dina has great taste.
Dina : I like putting it together. You built you you envision it, you re-imagine it, and you're so big that what you're so good at is product development and creating and seeing, you know, a antique bench and going, all right, nope, we're going to bleach that thing because it looks like something Grandma had in her castle. And I'm going to you know, we're going to put a fabric on it and then maybe I'll come in and help you pull the vintage fabric. And together we'll make.
Michelle: You know what I mean, right. I just met.
Dina : He is he is the.
Kevin : Yes, yeah. But, but, but yeah, I think that we we have your eye.
Michelle: Your eye is so good. So you when I say geek out, it's just because you notice something that the average everyday person is not going to notice on a piece of furniture ever like. And the fact that you get inspired that by that is, is there is there any one design or style that you find more inspiring than the other, or is it just workmanship? Craftsmanship?
Kevin : You know what? I love today's style and design because it's more there's more of an emphasis on this mix of great contemporary, modern stuff that's beautiful and simple and hopefully well made and green and whatever it is, together with antiques and the things that I truly kind of grew up loving and today I really think is a fantastic look that's going on in design because it's not all beige and boring track arm sofas and it's not all like super, you know, North Carolina meets Asian manufacturing type of stuff. Heavy 1990s either it's this now, it's this time where everything is kind of come together and we can take chances and people with real design sense can put together mid-century together with something of old, together with something new, colors, all that stuff. And I really think today is a is a wonderful time for for design because that openness of mixing. And so I really I think of all the times it's been in the past couple of decades, I think this is at least the most interesting.
Michelle: And do you know, where do you get because you're like the visionary, like where do you get inspiration from or what do you find most inspiring?
Dina : I mean, I am constantly following reading different like websites and designers, interior designers. I actually it's funny because I take different inspiration, pieces of different inspiration from different designers. So I might there's rarely maybe one designer that I like everything that they do, but there's a piece of what they're doing. And I see that marrying that up with what we're doing, you know, and again, at the end of the day, we are one of a kinds and we are like based in antiques and one of a kind of we want we don't want to get too far from that, but I, I as well love what's going on right now. But travel's a big thing for us. Living like a casual life, like casual living and kind of trying to but but fun and keeping with color and pattern and all of that is, is definitely something that obviously is on trend, but I think speaks volumes to what our brand is based in as well. So kind of marrying those two.
Michelle: Where do you guys see concept in ten years?
Dina : Good question. I think we're on the five year plan. So far, we haven't gotten that far. I think we have to keep evolving. So I don't.
Kevin : I think I think it's I think it's far more on line based. I think a lot more to do with continuing on to mix those those two senses of of of manufacturing together with the old stuff and customization, all that kind of stuff I think is continuing on that trend. I think, you know, more electronically based in a larger, I guess a larger footprint not being so le focused. I mean, really and being more nationally focused. I think that that's where we got to go actually.
Dina : To add to that, in addition to Kevin geeking out and being a design creative guru. Sorry, I mean, this guy is a total tech nerd, right? So he loves information systems and steam and building and creating. And he built our website, he launched our e-commerce. I mean, as of like what, August, we didn't have we didn't have an online business. So we launched the brand, relaunched the brand in March. And then by August, he had spent every night and every day in the business. And mango, mango. She's been the big yeah, she's our inspiration. But anyway, he was incredible in building that e-commerce. So I think our business lives kind of 5050, maybe a smaller retail space. The end of the day, I don't think we need 20,000 square feet. But what we have right now is is is incredible. I mean, it's it's a massive opportunity right now. But I think that zoning in in our product, a lot of what Kevin has done is taken some of the vault items that have been in his family that they've all picked, literally traveled the world and picked some things that they had were not needed to be recreated. They needed to be fixed. They needed to be bleached, they needed to be just redeveloped. And that's what he's done.
Dina : So as that, as we narrowed down some of those pieces and sell them, which we've been doing gratefully, a lot of, I think there will be new I don't know, there will be new furniture, new pieces that we're designing and picking, and we will always just be rooted in. I definitely want to be rooted in quality value. I mean, even today we're 20, 30% less than a lot of antique brands we're seeing out there. That is something I think we need to stick with. I don't want to negotiate with people. I don't want to be this sale brand. I just want people to walk in and not and almost not look at the price tag and just go. Yes, and they do in a weird way. I know that sounds crazy, but they kind of do because most people get it and they get the value. And I think the day that someone walks in here and goes, what? That doesn't make sense, you know, and that's the customer that we've been talking to that would hurt us as a brand. And I think sticking with that, sticking with one of a kind. Yeah, we're growing nationally a little bit more. Right. Absolutely. Yeah. Would be would be all fabulous things.
Michelle: Well, I am super blessed and grateful that I'm on board with you guys. It's been so much fun. I love listening to Kevin talk about tech because I still I still need to pick your ear on the virtual assistant thing because I started to go down that road, I started to go down that road and then show season started and then it was like, yeah, I, I will be picking your brain. But I adore even.
Kevin : More of a need today for that virtual assistant.
Michelle: Yeah, I seriously, but I, I'm so grateful that I have a chance to work with you guys because it's both so inspiring and it's so fun to see you guys because it just, it's, forget the, the past part of it. But just to see this business evolve and change and see your dad come in and see him, appreciate what you guys are doing and it just it's I'm super grateful and I am even more grateful for you guys to spend time with me on this today because I think so many people are going to find so much interesting stuff about you guys that no one knew before, that I've been lucky enough to know and understand the family business a little bit better.
Dina : Well, thank you, Michelle. You are awesome.
Kevin : And you're a very big part of why we're successful now. So we really we.
Michelle: Really appreciate it.
Dina : Thank you.
Michelle: And that is a wrap. Thank you all so much for joining me on today's episode. I really appreciate it. And be sure to tune in every Wednesday for more stories and lessons from a life in retail. And don't forget to follow us on Instagram at the retail whore podcast, and you can find us online at the retailwhorepodcast.com