5 Minutes With Cara Connell, CEO, Lumitrix

Lumitrix is an online photography retailer that has just opened the doors to its first physical retail space - a pop-up concept called Lumtirix Living. The Retail Gazette seized the opportunity to chat to its chief executive, Cara Connell.

Cara Connell Lumatrix CEO

Congrats on the new pop-up store in Marylebone!

Exhilarating. I never set out to set up a “shop” – more a technology company – so it feels utterly fun playing shop in such a fabulous space in my favourite area of London.

Can you describe what customers can expect when they visit the pop-up?

A space full of curated interior finds that I personally would like in my own living space. We’ve partnered with quality brands that Lumitrix feels compliments it’s lifestyle aesthetic.

We have created the shop so that it could feel like a corner of your home from floor to wall.

Tell me about the Lumitrix story.

I created Lumitrix in 2013 to offer homeowners access to emerging photographers’ imagery to dress their walls. It was born out of me assisting brilliant photographers whose work I wanted to promote whilst having friends who had walls to fill.

Lumitrix thrives off building a catalogue of photography to our audience at an accessible price point whilst ensuring the online experience is seamless.

How is Lumitrix different to other online retailers?

We have always supported our online voice with a strong lifestyle element because we feel art should be seen in a way that people can relate to in their lives. This has been achieved mainly through our Lumitrix Living section where we showcase our art in people’s homes and the customer can click to buy directly off their wall.

This editorial angle at the time was unique but others are adopting it now – we don’t know other galleries who are showing their artwork predominantly in a lifestyle context offline.

What’s in store for Lumitrix in 2018?

We have had such a busy year already. We were at our first European fair, being Maison Objet in Paris in January. We’ve also launched a brand new website to ensure our buyers’ experience whilst purchasing art online is market-leading. We exhibited at the Affordable Art Fair in March and then opened our Concept Store – and it is only the beginning of April. We would like to increase our catalogue when we next have a quiet moment.

There is a growing trend of online-only retailers evolving into “clicks-to-bricks” retailers. With the pop-up store in mind, is Lumitrix heading in that direction?

This pop-up is to trial whether we need to alter our position – it’s a useful experiment. At present we are 100 per cent online, attending art and trade fairs.

We do, however, know that a lot of our customers, despite being so much more trusting of buying art online these days, do respond well to seeing a picture physically. It won’t necessarily lead to a direct sale but it will comfort them in time to come when they want to make a purchase. We want to see if this pop up is the magical compromise between a dominant online presence with a supportive click-to bricks offering.

How is Lumitrix addressing some of the challenges facing the retail industry as a whole?

We have been really lucky in that we have not been subjected to the vagaries of the retail industry. Being only online to date has meant we have bypassed the high street decline and its impact.

What would you say is the biggest risk for the retail sector, given the current climate?

A lack of confidence to part with money combined with an overall decline in people moving houses. The current stamp duty rates have compounded this issue but there feels to be a sense of the unknown hovering over all consumers which is preventing them to be carefree with their purchases.

Describe your role and responsibilities as chief executive of Lumitrix

My most important role is to keep the wheels moving forward in a strategic direction. My responsibilities are to ensure my team are also moving forward within their roles which in turn ensures we continually reach new customers with a perfect product so that our customers are happy. That sounds pretty effortless but there are so many obstacles during an average day.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before Lumitrix.

I was always passionate about photography but never had the nerve to try it professionally, so I became a lawyer.

Five years later I took the plunge and the moment I entered the photography world Lumitrix grew in my mind as the perfect balance between creativity within a visual industry and business which I have always found fascinating.

What got you into retail in the first place?

I never set out to enter retail – it was more a confluence of photography, running a gallery, and one that was online. Before you know it we became a retailer and it is exciting.

How has your previous experience aided your current job?

Immeasurably, as I understand the technical side of both creating and producing photographic art whilst having experience as a corporate lawyer which helps the structuring of our company.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Never having a peaceful moment. Sometimes I feel I have to justify why something hasn’t been done. That is, there aren’t enough hours in the day – please don’t think I’m not organised. But those are the moments you have to dig deep and reassure your confidence that a good job is being done.

And the most rewarding?

Someone coming into the shop because they have either bought from you before or even just heard of you before.

Getting to meet one of these mythical names on your database and engage with them is so rewarding because otherwise they are just email addresses.

What advice would you give someone who is considering embarking on a career in retail?

Take a deep breath and jump. Don’t over think it, or you won’t do it.

The Lumitrix Living concept store is on 32-34 New Cavendish Street until April 21 

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