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Popup clothing rack

Poppin’ My First Pop-Up Cherry – What I learned and my next one

So on 24 Jan I popped my first pop-up cherry. I know it’s been a couple of weeks but I thought I’d share it here at least so that others may come to learn from my experience.

So I was invited by a friend who’s a Zumba instructor to do a pop-up at one of his sessions. When he first broached the idea to me, honestly, I was hesitant. I still recall the first few thoughts that went through my mind at that time were: “Will I be able to pull this off?”, “What would people think of me/brand?”, “Am I ready to open myself/my brand to public scrutiny?”.

Even before giving myself a chance, my mind had already managed to conjure up a whole gamut of worse-case scenarios of how I might potentially flop.

Lesson 1: Catch your self-limiting thoughts before it catches you.

I took the next couple of days to ruminate on my friend’s invitation. The more I thought, the more I began to notice a pattern in the way I reacted when faced with challenges. I would retreat into my shell and conveniently let it fly by. This was a frequent behaviour/crutch that i had. 

I clearly knew how to run a pop-up – I was marketer in my previous life – but the reason I was hesitant was because I was afraid of the outcome. I was afraid that no sales, or a lack thereof, and lukewarm interest from customers that day would force me to have to come to terms with the reality of my business/brand. Was I able to come to terms with that reality? Well at least better to know now than later.

Obviously I had thought way ahead of myself – and even if there were people who thought that way, they were probably not my target audience in the first place. Looking back, it’s almost ludicrous to see how I allowed my mind to coerce me so easily. Even before I allowed myself to even try, I had already allowed my self-limiting thoughts to get the better of me.

Fortunately I was able to see this opportunity for the opportunity that it was and I ended up accepting it.

Lesson 2: Do not let Murphy get you down. Always make the best out of any situation you’re in.

So the week of the pop-up came and I had started preparing the logistics as early as the week before.

I had gone shopping for equipment for the pop-up. Two days prior, I had also diligently packed a hand-carry box to contain some of my stocks, name cards and marketing collaterals. Everything was well-packed and organised and I felt there was nothing that could go wrong – or so I thought.

On the morning of the pop-up, I loaded my car and, true enough, Murphy paid me his first visit – the base of my clothing rack could not fit into my car. Dismantling it was not an option as it would be a waste of time. Long story short, I found an alternative vehicle – but I was scrambling like a mad dog shifting everything to my new car.

Arriving at the venue, I was relieved I was still slightly less than an hour ahead of schedule despite the morning kerfuffle. As I began unloading the car, I noticed to my  horror that in my flurry I had absentmindedly left my box of stocks and marketing collaterals in my previous vehicle. *head slap*. Could my first pop-up experience get any worse?

I felt paralysed. It took me all about a good five to 10 minutes to eventually just tell myself to let it go. I knew I’ve tried what I could but when dealing with folks like Murphy, you just got to make the best out of the situation and carry on.

Lesson 3: Taking the shame out of self promotion

Thankfully I was the first one when I arrived at my friend’s studio. Trying not to look flustered or anxious from what happened earlier, I candidly just asked him where I could set up my station.

As we were approaching the hour, participants began to flow into the studio. I was standing by my pop-up station, which took up a tiny corner of the studio.

People were standing around waiting for the Zumba class to start. My friend, who was busy setting up the venue, suddenly gave my brand a quick shout-out, asking everyone to quickly check out my booth.

Hearing my name and my brand echo against the  four walls of the studio, I almost felt ashamed of the blatant self-promotion my friend was giving my brand. By then, people in the studio were coming forward to check out my booth. Some were browsing my clothes while others came to chat with me.

During my conversations, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit full of myself. I was busy sharing my brand and how I started it, and I felt like I was blowing my own trumpet.

As I began sharing more with my customers that day about my business, I noticed that most, if not all were genuinely quite interested in what I had to say. Having the chance to share about my brand and what it stood for gave me an opportunity to share with my customers what my brand/business had to offer.

These conversations resulted in a couple of sales on the spot and in that moment I felt I had personally made a breakthrough with myself and my brand. My story/brand concept resonated with people – some at least – but most of all I overcame my own inner demons of shame and unworthiness. I had proven to myself that if you truly believe in something, that was all that mattered and there was nothing to shameful about that. .

Anyway, we continued with my friend’s Zumba class and here are some pictures of what went down…

Zumba-class
A high octane class with Roy Woodworth (@roywoodworth99)

Pop-up group

When the session ended, my friend proceeded to give my brand a final shout-out and I got to speak with those whom I missed before the class.

Lesson 4: People are generally a lot kinder than you think they are

Through this experience I found people were generally quite curious about my brand. Contrary to what I thought – which goes to show how much your mind plays tricks with you – people were a lot kinder and supportive IRL. Although the pop-up was small, it was a good opportunity for my customers to experience my brand and to physically be able to touch, feel and try on my clothes for the first time, which made their buying decisions a lot faster.

Personally, I also found it really fun interacting with customers and sharing with them about my brand. Granted it was hard to give everyone my undivided attention, all in all seeing their smiles certainly lit my world and gave me the added boost of confidence I needed to carry on.

That said, I’ll be doing my second pop-up this coming Saturday, 20 February, 12pm to 2pm  at D’marquee Downtown East, 1 Pasir Ris Close. If you’re in the area, do pop by and check us out!

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