| Aug 5, 2016 |
How one designer started her own design e-commerce business
Boh staff
By Staff

Bay Area designer Mary Jo Fiorella launched her first online home furnishings and decor shop, Clementine Living, earlier this summer. Up for sale are upholstered furniture, interior lighting, area rugs and decorative accessories from names like Arteriors, Currey & Company, Emporium Home, Jaipur, Loloi Rugs, Redford House, Somerset Bay Home, Tozai Home, Zestt and Trina Turk. Also on the site: a Curated Spaces section, where Fiorella and her design team have created rooms for sale, with resources in a number of colors and materials.

The principal of Fiorella Design shares her experience building an online shop, including how she sources product and what designers should know before venturing out into the e-commerce world.

Where did your idea to create an online shop originate?
There were a few thoughts that brought me to this place. First, I was already creating a shop of sorts—I was vetting products and building relationships with manufacturers and getting positive feedback from my clients at Fiorella Design. I wanted to offer a wider selection of products that my clientele and other design lovers would appreciate. 

I also wanted to offer an alternative to customers who may not have access to interior design services or have a one-room project that they could tackle on their own with a few pointers. So, as part of the online shop, I knew I wanted a “pre-designed spaces” area where customers could one-stop-shop and get a room that was well put together.

How do you source your product?
Markets like High Point and Vegas. I’ll also see things online, in magazines, in books and in stores that I’ll research and approach.

Any advice for designers seeking to build their own e-commerce sites?
Don’t do it unless you have a lot of extra time and ample cash. I went into this a bit blind. It’s been a huge undertaking, and that has been very trial and error. Also, you must know that you can’t do it yourself. So you have to be able to find the talent to assist in many facets that are not design related.  

How do you split your time between interior design clients and the shop?
Both companies are in the same office. So right now, it’s a matter of me turning in my chair. As you can imagine, I’m pulled in many directions when I’m in the office.

Any plans to go brick-and-mortar in the future?
No plans right now. But I’m open and crazy enough to consider it down the road. It’s all about location, location, location, and in the Bay Area, that’s a very pricy consideration.

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