Rock and Rapture: Honing the Business Concept (Part 2)
Shahasp Valentine is only a few months away from opening Rock & Rapture, her first jewelry store and gallery in San Francisco. Read on to learn how she went about honing the business concept and hear her advice on why listening to your gut, being prepared, and sticking to your vision can overcome any naysayers that come your way.
An Idea Becomes a Reality
Valentine originally developed her store concept to fit the size of a retail space that she wanted to move into, a 950 square foot building in the perfect location. The space had everything she wanted: on a corner, separate areas, high ceilings, a great location. She was already envisioning her store’s name on the front entrance.
The neighborhood was the same as her friend’s shop, Onyx. Valentine had spent a lot of time there and knew the kind of customers that shopped the area. She wanted to create a jewelry gallery, with each display case showcasing the work of one designer. Jewelry designers would be rotated seasonally. “I want people to really appreciate the art that goes into it,” Valentine explains.
After examining the space, she decided to add something to the mix. “Because space was really large with great light and very high ceilings, I realized I also needed to have art.” To keep things fresh and new, Valentine will have art openings every two months with the artist coming in for the opening to talk about their inspirations, which is also a great way to reach out to people to encourage them to come in.
Finally, she added one more element. “I realized with this size, we could have a lounge area, and all our friends could play music here.” Hence, the music component of the shop concept was born.
Location, Location, and… a Different Location
Sadly, Valentine lost the first space. But the concept stuck with her. Like most successful entrepreneurs, she picked herself up and kept on looking. She finally found another space and is in the process of rethinking the immersive experience with smaller square footage.
This location has its perks, though. It will be part of The Emporium, an arcade, bar, and music venue under one roof that has three other locations in Chicago. Their San Francisco location will include two retail spaces on either side of the entryway, which is where Rock & Rapture will be located. Valentine expects the NOPA location’s great foot traffic and eclectic mix of shops and restaurants to make up for the loss of space from her originally planned location.
“This is the right place for my edgy urban concept,” she says. “Blasting gazey instrumental rock and super edgy jewelry wouldn’t work in every neighborhood.”
Getting Feedback to Fine-Tune the Details
As Valentine was noodling on the idea for Rock & Rapture, she bounced her ideas off her friends, colleagues, and networking groups. One particularly useful group was the women’s entrepreneur network that she belonged to, which included members from many different industries.
The diversity of expertise and subject knowledge helped round out her ideas. “It’s enormously important to have a sounding board. You need to get input from different types of people.” She got help on practical matters like legal tasks from the attorney in the group, plus feedback on the name of her business.
There’s also value in just pitching your ideas, she tells us. “The value of talking about it is it makes it more real. If you hear yourself, you can get more clarity about your concept. And people will tell you if it’s not a good idea.” The group also served as a support system. “When you’re totally overwhelmed, it’s great to get words of encouragement.”
Sticking to Your Vision
It’s hard to stick to your vision with so many moving parts, Valentine explains. Since the physical layout isn’t what she imagined, she knows she’ll have to be creative in setting up the space. But she is determined not to compromise on making Rock & Rapture an immersive experience.
“I want people to talk about it and say, ‘I went to this crazy store where there’s this rock-and-roll woman and this guy playing guitar. It’s the coolest place in the whole world, you gotta see it.’”
“I want it to be rock and roll,” says Valentine, who stresses the importance of having a point of view and sticking to it. “What I’ve learned from my previous businesses is that you can’t please everyone. You have to do what you do and do it well because you’re you’re never going to make everyone happy.”
Opening a business can be scary, not only because of the financial outlay, but because of the fear of failure. “One thing I’ve learned is that you don’t get anywhere in life if you don’t take any chances. And so this is my big chance.”
Rock & Rapture launches February 14, 2018. We’ll follow Valentine over the next few months as she gets ready to open her store so we can share tips and insights on launching a retail space. In our next few articles, we’ll talk with Valentine about financing the business, finding a location and negotiating a lease, and setting up her shop.