Online interior design biz Havenly to offer in-store consultations at two Nordstrom stores, Denver HQ

A Denver company created to provide interior design services online will soon be inviting would-be customers to drop by corporate HQ for free, in-person consultations.

Havenly is joining the growing number of companies crossing the physical-digital divide to bring services to customers in the real world.

The RiNo-based business announced Thursday it will open design studios in two Nordstrom stores on opposite ends of the country in the coming weeks. Visitors can walk in or make an appointment for a free, 30-minute consultation with an interior design expert, the company said. Nothing is planned for Colorado Nordstrom stores yet, but Havenly will offer the same in-person service at its corporate office inside Zeppelin Station, 3501 Wazee St., starting in October, officials said.

“Certainly, we hope we get to expand with Nordstrom but in the interim we will be booking appointments right here in RiNo,” company co-founder and CEO Lee Mayer said Thursday.

Terms of the arrangement with the two pilot Nordstrom stores — one in Brea, Calif., opening this weekend and another set to follow in Short Hills, N.J. — were not disclosed, but Mayer hinted her company got a plum deal. She said the cost and competition for online advertising space helped drive the new direction.

“Honestly, even right up until we decided to go down this road we always thought it would be prohibitively expensive,” she said of operating in physical space. “More and more you’re seeing traditional retailers like Nordstrom and others showing interest in providing really unique experiences.”

Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver PostLee Mayer, right, CEO of the company Havenly, and her business partner, chief operating officer Jessie Dixon, work together.

Nordstrom representatives also focused on experience when talking about the partnership.

“We’re constantly looking at ways to bring our customers great services in a convenient location and we think they’ll love the ability to work with Havenly experts right here in our store,” a spokesperson said in an email.

Havenly won’t get too far from its tech roots. Design and product suggestions will still be sent to customers digitally and check-out for any purchases made following a consultation will still occur online, Mayer said.

Since launching in 2014, Havenly hasn’t shied away from trying new things. Last spring it launched a free gift registry service that uses designer insights and data culled from the hundreds of thousands of visitors to its website to make recommendations for people’s wish-lists, a departure from its base business model of charging for full-room design services.

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It’s not the first tech-born online business to cross over into traditional retail. Online eye ware dealer Warby Parker now counts two Colorado locations among its dozens of brick-and-mortar stores today. E-commerce giant Amazon launched pop-up spaces last holiday season including one in Denver.

Theresa Meier Conley, a marketing professor with the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business, said partnerships between big legacy retailers and smaller, hip brands work best where there is overlap between the customers for both. She sees that with Nordstrom and Havenly, both of which put customers in the driver’s seat when selecting from lots of options.

“I think it’s a win-win,” she said. “(Nordstrom) looks fresh to their regular customers and maybe has some visibility to some new clients who haven’t thought of them in that way.”

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