When Others Zig – You Have to Zag

When Others Zig – You Have to Zag

Intro by Skip Cohen

Going back at least 4-5 years ago, I finally got to sit in an entire day of Bev and Tim Walden’s program. In fact, it was at the Marathon summer get-together, MAP. In the past I’m always catching them on the run at a convention, and never had more than a few minutes to spend with them. They were terrific, and I found myself thinking about each nugget of wisdom they shared.

One of the best was how you relate to your clients. They’re not coming just for a portrait sitting, but the experience! And it’s not a portrait you’re creating but a family heirloom to be passed down to future generations.

Wander over to the Walden Photography website, and you’ll see some of the industry’s most stunning portraiture. Personally, their black and white work is my favorite. Each image captures the personalities of the subjects.

As we slowly return to a level of normalcy, think about Bev’s point in today’s post. How can you make yourself stand out from the competition and consistently exceed client expectations!

By Beverly Walden

Zig when others zag…the incredibly inspiring story of RH (formerly Restoration Hardware).

Wisdom in the retail industry over the last few years would say, “Don’t expand or move into more expensive retail spaces, especially when selling high-end furniture and home accessories.”

RH did just the opposite, expanding its stores into free-standing, larger-than-life, beautifully outfitted concepts with restaurants, wine bars, coffee shops, and a staffed designer gallery within the store.

Sounds backwards with most retail stores suffering because of Amazon and now, the economy and Covid! And RH is navigating some rocky times right now, but that is not stopping the CEO of RH, Gary Friedman, from thinking ahead to a bright future with big plans.

They started a few years ago by expanding their typical mall 6,000 square feet stores to 60,000 square feet and they often located them in historic buildings. The showrooms allowed the public to not only see furniture as they shopped but to personally experience what a lifestyle of luxury felt like, if only for an hour or two.

Here is their description of the West Palm Beach experience:

“Our four-story, 80,000-square-foot design gallery blurs the lines between residential and retail, indoors and outdoors, home and hospitality. Experience the striking mural installation by contemporary artist, RETNA. Dine-in a dramatic skylit rooftop restaurant with French antique black-and-white marble floors, 16-foot-tall birds of paradise and trickling fountains. Enjoy a handcrafted coffee or glass of wine from our wine vault, pantry, and espresso bar while you experience RH Interiors, RH Modern, RH Baby & Child, and RH TEEN. Explore our estate gardens and rooftop park showcasing our collections of RH Outdoor. Interact in the Design Atelier with our professional interior designers, who can help reimagine your space, and conceptualize a fresh and inspiring way to live.”


Their thought was that people are visual and what they see is what they think about.

These showrooms are luxury on steroids with bubbling fountains, lots of natural light flowing in, chandeliers and the finest materials on the furniture…and an afternoon of relaxation all while sipping on a glass of fine wine…at a furniture store? HUH?

RH is becoming more of a lifestyle brand…and more than just a furniture store as it continues to evolve, adding RH Modern, RH Outdoor, RH Baby+Child, RH Ski House and RH Beach House, each a sub-brand.

Gary Friedman, the CEO and visionary behind RH, says, “Our focus on elevating the RH brand by building architecturally inspiring spaces that blur the lines between residential and retail, indoors and outdoors, home and hospitality with seamlessly integrated restaurants and services, have rendered our brand more valuable while creating a customer experience that cannot be replicated online. Our dominant physical presence combined with our integrated multi-channel platform that generates over a billion dollars online will continue to enable the RH brand to disrupt the highly fragmented luxury home furnishings market, and take share for years to come.”

Many people go just for the experience! Count me in!

I share this story to get your creative juices flowing. What can we do to create an experience like no other studio? How can we think differently? And how can it elevate us as artists and entrepreneurs?

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This article was written by
Beverly Walden

Beverly, along with her husband, Tim, took over Walden’s Photography in 1980, taking the studio in an entirely different direction when they developed their trademark “Relationship” Black and White Fine Art Portraiture. Today, they run a high-end studio, providing beautifully crafted portraits with impeccable customer service, along with Walden Coaching (www.WaldenCoaching.com) helping photographers build a stronger brand and business.

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