When Zoomos co-founders, Justin Watwood and Eric Hernandez decided to open their store, they envisioned a new kind of retail business – one that actually empowers and unites the community through art.
With that goal in mind, they created a shop that serves as a platform for local artists, designers, and up-and-coming entrepreneurs in the eclectic Bishop Arts District of Dallas, TX. Zoomos is a pop-up shop that combines traditional retail elements with consignment and doubles as a business incubator for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Justin and Eric have made their space available to individuals who are passionate about their business idea, but either lack the resources to get it off the ground, or simply want to try their concept in a pop-up setting before investing lots of capital to launch it. By placing a simple form on their website, and networking with local creatives, they’ve been able to source new styles and merchandise for their store, while giving artists a fun place to promote their work.
Zoomos makes a portion of their retail space available to entrepreneurs to sell their own products for 1-3 months, in exchange for revenue share and promotion. Artists not only have a space to sell their merchandise without the hefty cash outlay of a business lease, but they can also establish a loyal customer base from the frequent Zoomos visitors, and gain firsthand experience running a retail shop by working alongside the owners of the business. Essentially, Justin and Eric provide aspiring business owners with an apprenticeship of sorts, while running a business of their own, within the larger business. It’s been a quite a successful model for both parties.
We spoke with Justin and Eric about Zoomos, and here’s what they shared with our readers:
Content Team: Can you guys tell us a little bit about Zoomos?
Justin: Absolutely. Zoomos is a pop-up store in Dallas, TX that features clothing, artwork, and other pieces sourced from local artists and designers in the area. Eric and I are the founders and current owners of the business. We opened up our retail space to a number of aspiring entrepreneurs to sell their merchandise for 1-3 months.
CT: What were your goals when you started the business and what did you want to accomplish?
Justin & Eric: Our mission was to promote love and creativity, and our location just happened to be perfect for this type of business. The Bishop Arts district is filled with artists and creatives, so it’s been great sourcing talent from the area and giving artists the platform to share their work.
This is our first venture in retail, but both of us have a passion for fashion and local art and had experience in different areas that have helped us in business. I [Eric] have a background in Marketing which helps me run the website and social media, and Justin has worked with all sorts of personalities as a teacher, which helps a lot with employees and operations.
CT: Why a pop-up shop? What are the benefits of that model vs. a regular retail store?
J&E: Well for one, we wanted to differentiate our business from your typical retail shop, so we were thinking outside of the box. Our model appeals to the local culture in this area. There are many artists and designers who are passionate about their work but don’t have the background or capital to turn it into a business just yet. This allows them to gain that experience while earning some revenue from their merchandise.
As for us, there are many benefits. Because we’re giving different artists an opportunity every few months, the merchandise often changes, which keeps the attention of our customers and gives them a reason to keep checking back for new things. From a decorative standpoint, we have new arrangements in the store all of the time, which keeps it interesting.
The financial benefit is that we didn’t have to buy as much wholesale inventory at the onset. We didn’t have to invest as much money upfront for merchandise to get the business off the ground.
CT: What is the most important task that each of you does for the business every day?
J: I handle most of the operational stuff, such as dealing with employees and tracking inventory and reports. Eric handles the marketing side of the business which encompasses our website, online presence, and social media, among other things.
CT: What’s the most difficult thing about being a business owner?
J: The hardest part at the beginning was finding artists and developing the relationships. We weren’t very well known to start, so that was challenging. Now, the biggest challenge is balancing the business with our full-time jobs. Eric works in marketing and I’m a teacher, so it’s certainly difficult at times. We have a lot of support from our staff and store manager, though, and also rely on ShopKeep and other technology systems to help us manage everything.