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Real Life Muses: Alyssa in the City

How Alyssa in the City is Crafting the Future of Retail

We're Poppin up! That's right, you heard us. Alyssa Coscarelli or as you may know her, @alyssainthecity and Freck are coming to you IRL with So Major :). Here's our exclusive interview with her on how she's taking over the pop-up world and how you can get your exclusive Freck bundle.

Image credit @alyssainthecity

What are your favorite Freck Beauty products and why? :) Freck OG in that teeny tiny little bottle because eeeeep, it's just so cute and transportable and gives me the subtle freckles I've always dreamed of! I also love the So Jelly Eye Cream because it took me FOREVER to finally find a gentle, hydrating, glowy eye cream like this one, and the Foreclay mask because I feel like it t all the gunk from traveling out of my face.

Maybe it’s because you’re one of our favorite creators, but we feel like you’re super involved (dare we say spearheading) the IRL pop-up world for boutique, online brands. What made you decide to help brands bring their products to life all over the US? I'm so excited about these new retail concepts because I find myself far more excited by brands online than in stores these days. I'm so much more into young, up-and-coming, direct-to-consumer brands than I am any legacy or traditional retail brands. But, it can be frustrating not to find those very labels anywhere in real life. Concepts like Re:store, which I recently worked on in San Francisco, and So Major now coming to New York bring brands that you typically only see in your Instagram feed into real life, breathing new life into the idea of brick-and-mortar retail. Even though I love shopping online and via IG, I know there's still something special and valuable about seeing and touching something IRL before you buy it. So these new concepts are really combining the best of both worlds: The personable, tangible experience of brick-and-mortar retail with the refreshing, exciting appeal of online, up-and-coming brands. And I'm so excited to be a part of it all.

Image credit @alyssainthecity

Did your time at Refinery 29 develop your ability to curate & bring brands together? Absolutely. Curation was a huge part of my job at Refinery29 and the site always placed such emphasis on the curation of brands and products in every single shopping story it published. Even before I worked for the site I remember thinking how on-point the selections were and loved shopping from Refinery29 articles because they were so well-curated. We always tried to include a mix of high and low pricepoints, and a range of aesthetics so that there was something for everyone, all while maintaining a certain taste level where you knew whatever shopping story you clicked on was going to look damn good. And now getting to put those same skills into practice in a new way, in the retail space, is so exciting. It's obviously terrifying since retail is changing so much these days, but it feels really cool to do what I know how to do in a new, IRL capacity, and be on the forefront of this new wave of retail experiences.

Image credit @alyssainthecity

When you first started hosting & curating pop-ups, what was most challenging to learn? I've definitely had to face the fact that I have a far more editorial eye when it comes to products and merchandise than your average person. I tend to be a lot more quirky and daring than most people with what I'm drawn to. I have to realize that some people -- erm, many people -- aren't quite as adventurous as I am with what they choose to wear and buy. So figuring out how to maintain my eye and taste level in a way that's still accessible and not off-putting to a larger audience has been a really interesting challenge.

What do you think is most important for online brands to have in place before presenting themselves to consumers IRL? I think it really comes down to both the branding and the product itself. The branding needs to be clear, fresh, and attention-grabbing -- a little personality always helps, whether that's in the typeface or the brand voice or a fun surprise element to the packaging or display. Then of course, it needs to be a quality product. Whether it's a beauty product or a handbag, there's no hiding anything when you present your product IRL, so it has to live up to its hype and actually deliver. It's not like online where you can get away with just having a pretty product -- the quality actually has to hold up in an IRL setting.

Image credit @alyssainthecity

Do you think that infusing tech into store experiences helps bridge the gap between our always-online habits & IRL shopping? I do think tech benefits the shopping experience, but it can't be superfluous. I think it can feel alienating or intimidating when a store concept goes off the tech deep-end, but picking a handful of integrations that actually add to the experience whether convenience-wise or surprise-and-delight-wise definitely goes a long way.

Once you’ve done all the work of curating & bringing brands under one roof- you still have to get people to actually show up! What’s the best way to attract attention, draw a crowd, and ultimately convert sales at a pop-up? You have to think about what the attendee is actually getting out of the experience and create some kind of incentive. Integrating talent like influencers, brand founders/designers, entrepreneurs etc. who can actually guide the shopping experience and converse with attendees is definitely a win. Thinking about added value is key, whether that's a panel discussion, a free goodie bag to take away, a discount, or the experience of meeting someone you look up to.

Image credit @alyssainthecity

Do you think the future of shopping online brands IRL is headed even further than these curated pop-up shops? I think consumers are getting smarter and smarter, forcing brands to be that much more transparent. Shoppers are wanting to know who's behind what they're buying, and I think that's going to have to continue to be addressed as retail evolves. It's not really enough to just have merchandise on a rack anymore -- retailers have to think about the personal connection and memorable experiences that shoppers crave nowadays. So I think larger retailers and even more traditional department stores are going to have to take note of what newer concepts like these are doing and integrate some of those strategies if they want to survive.

We’d be surprised if you’re not running your own IRL pop-ups in the near future, is that in your near plan? I'm super fortunate to be learning from powerhouses like So Major and Re:store, but I've got a couple ideas up my sleeve, as well. Can't say too much yet, but I'm definitely learning as much as I can with these experiences in the hopes of eventually getting into the space myself.

Image credit via Petite Studio

And to that point, what would you love to accomplish in the next couple of years, wildest dreams style? My goals for the next 5 years have a lot to do with diversifying my brand beyond just Instagram, from launching my website to partaking in fun retail projects like these, to collaborating on more tangible product with brands I love, to hopefully launching my own ***SOMETHING*** sooner rather than later :) More soon!

We're so excited to be partnering with Alyssa and So Major on this pop-up! We'll be selling an exclusive Freck bundle so make sure to get yours at one of the locations below or online at So Major.

World Trade Center Oculus - New York City, NY...............9/18/19-9/20/19
Westfield Garden State Plaza - Paramus, NJ....................9/19/19-9/21/19
Westfield Century City - Los Angeles, CA.......................9/20/19-9/22/19
Westfield UTC - San Diego, CA......................................9/20/19-9/22/19
Westfield Valley Fair - San Jose, CA...............................9/20/19-9/22/19

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