Owen + Alchemy: Eataly Location Opening
A LITTLE BACKSTORY
I worked as Owen + Alchemy's Business Development and Relationships Manager for about two years. I wore many hats, including the social media calendar and all other content, branding, partnerships, sales, and events. I also worked about 90 hours/week. (Upside down smiley face.) In many ways, though, this was a very glamorous position that combined all the things I loved: it was a beautifully branded, high art, high fashion wellness company. I worked with Lady Gaga, St. Vincent, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Google, Soho, Nike... the list goes on and on.
We started with one aspirational space in Chicago, and were approached by Eataly to open a second store within their Chicago store. Seeing an opportunity to sell our products to a new downtown clientele (we were way out in the artsy neighborhood of Logan Square -- the Neukölln of Chicago, if you will), we jumped at the chance and I put together an aggressive launch plan in a very short time.
Our objective was to generate a LOT of buzz about our new location, reach this new audience, and increase sales in a big, big way.
Instagram + FB
I kept our new location a secret and gave (somewhat obvious) hints. I then hosted a little Instagram contest with prizes for the first ones to guess where our new store would be.
Our Instagram and Facebook were Eataly-themed for three weeks leading up to launch. I worked out a co-promotion plan with the global Eataly PR team and featured a mix of behind the scenes shots, a "scavenger hunt" with Owen + Alchemy juices inside Eataly, and teasers of an Eataly + O+A collaborative nut milk: The Gianduja, featuring hazelnuts, Italian cocoa, mission figs, raw local honey and sea salt... a play on a healthy gelato or Nutella. This way, Eataly and O+A both had on-brand content to post: we focused on the ways our brands aligned on our shared love of local, seasonal, quality food.
I organized a series of Eataly-specific influencer Instagram takeovers, wherein influential friends took over our account for a week and highlighted our Eataly shop specifically. I handpicked these influencers from a Downtown O+A Advisory Council I assembled. More on that...
When our first Owen + Alchemy location launched, I helped put together a group of influential people -- the Advisory Council -- who served as our champions. They hosted events in our shop after hours, attended private parties in their honor, received special discounts and swag... all in exchange for promoting us to their massive and engaged followings. In preparing for O+A Eataly, I wanted to branch out to include a more "downtown" crowd... a little less hipster, a little more powerful young professional. This crew received a juice on us and a private O+A/Eataly party, and in return, gave us a LOT of press.
I also came up with a creative way to handle a big problem: because we were very suddenly handed a second location, we became severely understaffed. As a short-term solve for the fact that we had no employees to work at Owen + Alchemy Eataly, I called upon our Downtown Advisory Council to act as "Guest Juiceristas". Local influencers slung juice... for free! They had fun and we got even more exposure.
We sent a series of brief emails to Advisory Council members and our regular subscribers, and included a discount code for everyone who read their email and showed up for our opening weekend. As you can see, the shop was successful at first.. what started out as a pop-up (we marketed this shop as a test-run in case it didn't pan out) became a more permanent home for us.
Ultimately, the Eataly location closed and after I left, Owen + Alchemy entirely went out of business. Although I'm very proud of my marketing, design, brand voice and incredible resourcefulness, there were operational issues that could not be ignored. However, our sales were BONKERS during our trial period at Eataly, we did meet our objectives of reaching a new audience, and the momentum only died down due to staffing and quality control issues.
This was also one of my first big international b2b campaigns, where I was working directly with Eataly's PR team in New York and Italy. I collaborated with said Eataly team, my boss at the time (the owner of Owen + Alchemy, pictured with me eating spaghetti above), the hospitality group partnered on the project with us, the kitchen and front of house staff, our freelance design team, and the team of influencers I assembled.