In this edition of Shop Keepers Homes, I give you Andrew and Shannon Newsom, proprietors of the online emporium Wistera. They also have a blog HERE.
These two have impeccable design pedigrees that come down family lines. Andrew's is Lisa Newsom, editor of Veranda; and Shannon's is Jane Moore, a Houston interior designer and antiques dealer. The couple also share a dedication to social change, evident in the catalog's devotion to a different nonprofit group in each issue.
They are experts at romancing the home.
Once upon a time this newly married couple looked for, but couldn’t find, beautiful antiques and decorative objects to furnish their first home—at least, not at a price they could afford.
So they got the idea of starting a catalog to offer such merchandise, which became a web site, and, in classic Internet start-up style from its earliest origins at a kitchen table, Wisteria.com was born.
Wisteria.com got started on this kitchen table
Wisteria.com marries high-touch sensibilities that distinguish its catalog to the high-tech sales medium of the web.
Andrew is president of the company, and co-founder Shannon, writes most of the catalog copy that also goes on the site. She brings a distinctive first-person voice to the company that offers a tip of the hat to the early Banana Republic and J. Peterman catalogs in its ability to not just sell, but romance a product.
Inventory is sourced from around the world. By finding small, local suppliers in Third World countries, the Newsoms have found a way to keep prices lower than for comparable goods produced elsewhere, while offering the unusual and unique in a spare, clean-looking and easy to navigate site.
“Pottery Barn sells great products, but given the measure of their business, they have to be standardized in what they sell,” Andrew says. “We are small enough that we can find and sell 200 to 400 units. A huge company couldn’t do that.”
The artful photography that characterizes the catalog loses nothing in its translation to the web site, and the web medium makes contributes of its own: incremental sales and a younger customer.
Market research had determined that Wisteria’s core customer contains a large group of those in their 50s. “That catalog buyer has both disposable income and time,” says Andrew. “My sense is our Internet audience has disposable income, is decorating their first home, but doesn’t have a lot of time. They get online at night after they put their kids to bed and they shop then, because it’s more convenient.”
Internet sales are increasing in dollar volume and as a percentage of overall sales.
“There’s an opportunity here to go deeper than our catalog in telling more about the products and the story of the brand,” says Andrew.
All images (except for the top three which are from the Wisteria catalog) are of the home of Shannon and Andrew Newsom, and are from the hot new design book Swedish Country Interiors by Rhonda Eleish and Edie Van Breems. The book is not only filled with beautiful images, but with very insightful writing on the subject. You'll really learn something when you read this book by two of the foremost experts on 18th and 19th century Swedish antiques. Buy it HERE or at your local book store.
Some of this post is excerpted from various web sources.