The Art of the Pop-up


Fundamentally, pop-up shops are about creating an experience that allows you to connect with customers in a physical space and communicate your brand message. When you are a newly launched brand, the clarity of that message is crucial. Your first pop-up is also the first face-to-face impression you will create with the press and customers, and it must be clearly defined and presented.

First, you will want to take time to ensure that the actual physical space tells a story that will make a lasting impression on customers and the media. The first impression of your pop-up shop can determine whether or not people will explore your brand and product offering further. Starting with a storefront that connects with naturally occurring foot traffic and drawing them in and continuing through a well-designed interior space with “speed bumps” to keep their attention, the environment needs to meet or exceed their expectations by immersing them in an authentic experience.

Whether you have 50 square feet or 5,000, you need to invest time and money in your design. It doesn’t have to be a realistic experience, or a practical experience, but it needs to evoke an emotional connection to your brand. Creating an impactful pop-up experience starts with an honest assessment of your company and your brand.

You can then identify exactly how you want people to feel when they enter your space, and exactly what you want them to do once they are there.

You will want to find merchandising and display pieces that complete a holistic design message. For example, do regular silver racks make sense or do shadow boxes and silver pipes display your collection better? Every piece of shelving and furniture is there to further your brand, so choosing pieces that serve as the perfect displays for your merchandise is essential. The key is to make your presentation fluid and clean to showcase your offering without feeling cluttered, so be sure to leave duplicates and extra pieces in your back storage area and replenish as needed.

As an example, jewelry designer K-Kane did a great job of this when she launched her first pop-up shop with us. She had a dedicated wall designed with clear messaging, educating the customer on how her monogram process works. She filled the shelves with lifestyle elements of the women who would wear her brand, including beautifully carved jewelry boxes, flower arrangements, and books. It conveyed luxury, but in an approachable way and established a level of trust as soon as you walked in the door.

 Get creative with your merchandising displays, as it will add to what makes the experience feel unique. A couple of online sites for inspiration are Pinterest (you can search “retail displays”) and (a great destinations to search for some of the best window displays from across the globe).

Keep in mind the idea that you need to “immerse” people in your brand, while also keeping the focus on the purpose of your store. Once you’ve grabbed people’s attention (outside) and immersed them in your brand (inside), return your focus to the purpose of your product, and have a plan to convert your pop-up guests based on the actions your purpose requires.

Melissa Gonzalez is the founder of the Lion’esque Group, a firm of pop-up architects and author of The Pop Up Paradigm: How Brands Build Human Connectiions in a Digital Age.