With a handful of rug collections under his belt, Michel Smith Boyd is no stranger to designing product. Still, the challenge of holding inventory and selling those products online is entirely different than working with the trade, where customization is the default, lengthy lead times are normal and carrying stock is rare.
“You have to be really decisive when it comes to e-commerce,” says the Atlanta-based designer. “If you are going to house things, you have to do your market research and decide, This is my point of view: I see this item in this color, and 9-by-12 is the right size. Deciding what’s going to go on the site—what will sell and what will represent me? That’s nerve-wracking.”
Boyd is in the process of slowly growing his e-commerce offering. While some designers see online sales as a way to better monetize their existing clientele, he’s looking to build a brand that will carry him beyond the realm of day-to-day projects. “That's where I want to land eventually: all product—a complete lifestyle brand,” he says. “These rugs are just the beginning, getting my feet wet outside of the trade-only licensing collections that I have right now.”
Boyd is also developing a home fragrance line, which has been a testament to how complicated it can be to level up, graduating from drop-shipping an item to making and moving your own product. What seemed at the outset to be a relatively simple proposition has rapidly become an exercise in global logistics: “My box is coming from China, the vessels are coming from London, the pouring company is here in Atlanta, and the distributor is another place in Georgia,” he says. “Putting all those things together takes time!”
Homepage photo: A rug by Michel Smith Boyd | Allen Cooley