Abigail Ahern’s Ultimate Tips for Retail Interiors.

Abigail Aherns Tips for successful business

Speaking at May Design Series interior design maven, Abigail Ahern, revealed her top tips for making and taking a retail business to success.

Starting from a single store twelve years ago her career includes international collaborations with Sofa.com and Debenhams, TV, radio, design schools, books, blogs and a whole lot more.  Here’s what she she shared.


Be Niche. Are you different enough to succeed? When we started out I didn’t have a specific point of view. I had a shop of beautiful generic things but the reality was it just didn’t bring in enough money. Six months in I realised I had to bin the idea of trying to appeal to everyone and to hone in on a niche. This was the first major step in making my business the success it is today.

Abigail Aherns tips for successful retail interior business

Abigail Ahern has written three books selling worldwide.


“A strong aesthetic gets loyal followers and press attention which help your business flourish”.

Get noticed: How? i) through your unique product selection, ii) how you then create them into the design of your store iii) the style and content on social media channels. Thinking niche creates filters for buying. Mine is glam, theatrical, tongue in cheek and edgy, so I only ever buy products that resonate with that. Once you have the right products then make sure there is no disconnect with your store or website, they should all have the same voice.

Be scalable. The minute I got out from behind the store was the minute I propelled my brand to the next level. Even in the early days if you can start thinking big you’ll lead and grow the brand.

People: Hiring the right people allows you do this. Step away as you can’t do everything yourself. When manning the shop for the first four years I was so hands on I just didn’t have the energy to think about where I was going to take things. Find good people and delegate.

Abigail Aherns Tips for successful business

Accessory faux plants are the biggest seller.


Faith. In the early days I assumed we’d be successful in the first year but it’s so much longer than that. Retail is one of the hardest gigs to make a successful living at and to begin with I was just surviving. Have faith and start to drill into your theme but go beyond the trade shows and take it further afield, e.g. foreign magazines.

Mistakes. My first mistake was taking tiny premises off the beaten track with no footfall. I should have had the confidence and invested more because people find you quicker with a better location. My Second mistake was that I tried to introduce too many different product lines such as beauty. Most people think that by narrowing your brand is restrictive but it’s actually the other way round.

Accessories, our biggest seller, account for 40% of our stock and the high value are about 30%.

Product range and drops. If I find a product isn’t working its goes straight to sale otherwise it’ s taking up too much real estate in my warehouse. Unlike fashion where there are two product drops per year, in interiors you don’t need to do that. We have four annual drops with monthly store changes. We also have a core range of best sellers like our amazing huge mirrors we’ve always had for the 12 years. But the accessories are seasonal bread and butter that people come in at the weekends for before eventually buying the bigger ticket items. So keep it fresh with your smalls!


If you’ve found this useful Abigail Ahern runs interior Retail Design School with stacks more information on how to know your market, find customers and your business a success story.

 Abigail Ahern 



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