Why LEIF pivoted from an ‘e-commerce first’ strategy to brick+mortar

 
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With a degree in Fashion Merchandising and a background working for e-commerce powerhouses, including Bloomingdales, it’s surprising to hear Stacy say that she chose to focus on her brick and mortar shop instead of e-commerce.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Stacy last week to ask how she started her charming boutique, Leif, nestled in a charming street in the hippest neighborhood known to mankind: Williamsburg.

Like Stacy herself, the store is welcoming, calm, and serene, but also a bit spontaneous with unexpected items and must haves. From colorful baskets to cozy cashmere and mohair throws, everything is perfectly merchandised and invites you to roam around for awhile. It’s also impossible to resist purchasing something, from the unique jewelry to the sage and palo santo bundles, which are some of their best sellers!

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Stacy graduated the Fashion Institute of Technology and joined the corporate world in 2011, working for e-commerce focused companies. She noticed that the market hadn’t reached its full potential, so she took about $2,000 from her savings and decided to start her own e-commerce shop.

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“I absolutely loved home decor and ‘things’, so I knew what type of store I wanted to have”.

In 2011, she launched the website and slowly started selling. In the beginning, she stored her inventory in her NYC apartment—this sounds fun, doesn’t it? She gradually started selling and to keep overhead low, she did everything herself. “I didn’t outsource a thing because I couldn’t afford to but this really helped me understand my client and how to get to them”. When the online store launched, e-commerce was rapidly growing but not to the level we now know. Stacy reached out to up and coming bloggers, sending cold e-mails telling them about Leif. And it worked! Most of the business generated came from the traffic the bloggers sent to the website.

As social media became a business and bloggers became celebrities, Stacy noticed that there was a huge problem. The customer acquisition cost for online skyrocketed and the competition to get clients became a mountain not many could climb, so Stacy did what any great entrepreneur does: she pivoted.

“I’d never really dreamt of having my own brick and mortar store, but the timing was perfect and I decided to just go for it!”

Fast forward to 2016 and Stacy opened Leif in Brooklyn, New York. Today, the charming little boutique generates over 60% of her business and she’s planning on expanding. Leif also has its own branded products, which is a passion project for Stacy. “We have a studio one neighborhood over [in Greenpoint] where we make everything by hand—from candles to bath products, housewares, and anything else that I’m inspired to create.”

And if you’re wondering what her best sellers are? Pillows.

Everyone loves a pillow; it’s the perfect ‘don’t have to think about it or commit too much’ accessory. Oh, and in case you’re wondering where most of her online traffic comes from now? Despite an impressive 80,000+ followers on Instagram, the most lucrative social platform for Leif is Pinterest.