museums&MORE Fall 2014
Ronnie Shaw

Ronnie Shaw
The Sankofa Center
Sunnyvale, Calif.

1. What makes your store unique?

The Sankofa Center is so much more than just a store. It’s a grassroots health education non-profit that has been working in Ghana for more than a decade. In line with our use of the arts in our health promotions, our style line was bred out of a need to sustain the organization’s aims by the people, and for the people, using collective creativity. When someone buys Sankofa, they are receiving a well-crafted gift that also provides fair trade employment for more than 200 women and finances free mobile HIV services for more than 10,000 community members yearly in Africa.

2. What is your retail background?

I gained recognition as a designer and exhibitor for the wholesale trade at shows in Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco and have been working hand in hand with a growing list of retailers who carry Sankofa’s line. Shortly after being featured in Vogue” I was recruited for product design by a few major retailers in the U.S. and abroad. However, my passion has been consulting hundreds of independent boutiques that have become retail “Friends of The Sankofa Center” over the years on trends, cross-selling, fair trade and merchandising.

3. What is the most popular product you sell?

Currently, our most popular product is our new “Patch Beach” bag. Unlike most patch products on the market that are simply a single print image of a patch, our patch bags are hand-sewn together in an asymmetrical mosaic from select pieces of cotton African fabric. The interior is constructed from hundreds of up-cycled water sachets making a great water resistant bag for the beach or stylish hobo laundry bag.

4. What are your top three retail tips?

1. Know and love your customers and find ways to thank them personally for their continued support through social media, holiday cards and specials offers.

2. Offer a “Wish List” and engage customers through their sense of likes and wonder. By listening to what your customers want, it can help shape your buying aims and provide you opportunities to cross-sale merchandise.

3. Merchandise well. Whether a brick-and-mortar or an online presence, you must create a distinctive look and feel for your store and each product. Creating focal points through display, imagery, lighting and ambiance is key to accentuating the value and desirability the product represents.

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