We sit down with Paula Flynn who created theshopkeepers.com. It’s literally an uber shop window for stunning one-off emporia around the world- that tiny fraction of places that are so beautiful just browsing in them fills you with inspiration. We talk retail, working with Orla Kiely and the future of online shopping…
1 Tell us about the story behind The Shopkeepers?
Throughout my career as a designer retail has being a common thread. A few years ago when I was working with Orla Kiely to open her NY flagship shop I became intrigued by the way shopping and retailing are evolving. I have always been inspired by the moment when I walk into a truly beautiful shop so I started documenting a visual record of those shops that I could share.
2 What is your vision for the site?
When I started the site I decided that I would allow it to grow organically for a while, to learn what people visiting the site respond to the most. We are currently work on a redesign to be more mobile responsive, and indexing the shops by type and location. I would hope that people can use the site as a resource, whether they are thinking about opening a shop of their own, a platform to share ideas or as the content grows as a shopping guide to discover shops. I want the site to remain as visual as possible, and as the internet is wonderful for sharing we are excited to see we already have a global reach with followers from Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, Argentina as well as the US and Europe.
Inspiration wall at Kai D, Brooklyn. www.theshopkeepers.com
3 Do you feel that stores can survive the onslaught of online retail?
Yes. Online retail has definitely changed the way we shop, and I am sure it will continue to grow. There are still people who love to visit shops, to wander and browse. Visiting shops is often the pastime of a tourist, someone who has the luxury of time to discover a new neighborhood. The Internet has extended the reach of every shop and has given the shopper access to a wider range of products so every shopkeeper that I meet views online shopping as a positive evolution.
4 What is your own background?
I studied printed textiles and fashion at NCAD, and have worked in design studios in Paris and New York, for companies including Chloe, Karl Lagerfeld, Gap, and American Eagle. I had a children’s wear company in Dublin, Triple Star, with a partner, for several years before moving back to NY. I worked with Orla Kiely a few years ago setting up her flagship shop in NY. I am currently a member of the Flint & Kent team, a design and product development consultancy.
5 What do you think is the future for ecommerce- how will it evolve?
I think ecommerce will continue to evolve. I like to imagine one click shopping in the future. The Internet will allow storage of our information, sizing, payment and shipping details. Some companies are starting to manufacture for a customers’ specific body measurements using 3D printing technology.
Dorian Ward Trading Company, www.theshopkeepers.com.