new new new

It’s a new year – and a whole new decade – and we’ve got some amazing new suppliers coming into our spaces!

There’s fresh paint on the walls, new vinyl branding on the doors, new colours and a whole new lease on life in one of our most coveted retail containers.

At the end of December 2019, we bid a bitter-sweet farewell to one of our long standing and most popular brands – White Elephant Trading – and in their wake we welcome American Rhino to the Langata Link Shops family.

a brand that gives back

We love a brand that gives back – and this is one that certainly does! American Rhino was founded by Chris Welles as a unique way to contribute to conservation at a grassroots level. It all began when Chris took part in our favorite extreme 4×4 off road challenge – the Rhino Charge! To give back to his sponsors, Chris’s son, a graphic designer, created a logo for the ‘American Rhinos’ team, which was used on tee shirts, caps and other goodies. These were handed out to the people who had contributed to the sponsorship of the team and people loved them so much they started asking to buy them! And so the brand was born, and the rest, as they say is history. The brand donates 10% of all the proceeds to the American Rhino Foundation, which was founded on a commitment to protect African wildlife.

trade not aid

Giving back through conservation efforts is just one facet of American Rhino’s brand ethos. They strive to use sustainably sourced African materials and to support African manufacturers, with 80% of their products being made in Kenya and Ethiopia. This in turn supports local communities through trade, not aid. You can read more about the team and the work they do here.

It’s no small thing to move a new vendor into one of our beautiful spaces and it takes a lot of preparation. So we thought we’d kick off our first blog post of the year by shedding some light on

What it takes to set up a new space

the wait list

So, when we have a space coming up… how do we get someone else to fill it?

Well, we actually have a waiting list of vendors! Some vendors need larger spaces while others only need room for a few shelves. We take a look at who’s next on the list, the sort of space they want and we work our way down the list. Sometimes we offer the space to two or three vendors – as with most things in life, timing is key and some vendors find spaces elsewhere while they are waiting for a space with us to come up or simply aren’t ready to jump on the space at that time – before we find one who is ready to move right in. 

(Want to get yourself a space on our waiting list?! Send us an email below and we will get in touch!)

Back to the drawing board…

Once we know that a space is coming up and we know who’s moving in next we whip out our tape measures and sketch pads and we get to planning the flow of the space, thinking about how people will get to experience the products. Some vendors like to take the lead on this and don’t need much input from us, while others look to us for advice on what has worked well in the past.

We’re happy to be super hands on and get involved or to take a step back and let a new team make a space totally their own – everybody’s different! When we’re all happy with how the space should look, we take stock of what display items we can offer from Langata Link Shops. We have a few nifty items and displays that we’ve accumulated over the years, so between what we already have and what our new vendor has, we can figure out what’s missing and order it to be custom made.

Shop Fitting…

Shop fitting is one of the things that takes the most time – especially when displays need to be custom made – so we encourage our new vendors to start ordering custom built pieces as soon as possible, so they can be moved in as soon as the last tenant is packed up and the space is a blank canvas.

While we are waiting for new display units and hangers to arrive, we take a look at the flooring. For some brands, a rustic wooden floor works with their aesthetic (it certainly does for American Rhino!) but for others, they need a carpet or something to contrast with their merchandise or compliment their brand aesthetic – Beach Life simply wouldn’t feel beachy without their coastal sisal mats! 

If these Walls could talk…

Next we hit the walls – honestly, it’s amazing what a good cleaning can do to walls to freshen them up! At times, a good clean is all we need to freshen a space. But some brands want to change it up completely with a pop of colour and we’re always up for something funky and new! Kangarui painted our cupboards turquoise and we love it! Maasai Collections kept it cool and sophisticated with a grey on their walls that really makes colours pop. Colour is important to bring out the best in products and can really make or break a space – too little colour contrast and the space can look drab. Too much colour on the other hand can be overwhelming and can make even the most organised of spaces look messy and chaotic – even if it’s not!

let there be light…

And last but not least… lighting. The bottom line is this –  if people can’t see your products, then they won’t buy them. Plain and simple. So lighting is key. Having enough lighting is one thing; it’s also key to make sure that the angle of the lights and the tone of the lighting is working for your products.

Often it’s a good idea to go with flexible lighting that can be moved and to avoid too much light from one single source – we’ve all seen those photo’s where there’s too much downlight creating harsh shadows on our faces and the same applies here! This might be achieved with standing lamps that can be relocated as the stock on display changes combined with ceiling spotlights that can be pointed directly at the products.

We recommend going for a warm white and bright white bulb mix. The bright white on it’s own can wash out a space and make it feel cold, but it’s the most effective for washing a space with plenty of light so mixing them with a warmer yellow tone helps to soften the light, without compromising on the amount of light flooding a space.

And finally: never be afraid to go with a statement lighting piece! Why spend hours agonising over your brand asthetic everywhere else in the space, only to ignore it when it comes to your lighting? We love-love-love these 3 prime examples from Anselm Kitengela Hot Glass, Beach Life and 4Shore – their spaces wouldn’t be the same without them!

it’s off to work we go

Once the fittings are moved in, the flooring chosen, walls painted and the lighting has been installed, the real work begins. Each and every item must be checked for any flaws, entered into our inventory system (we love our vendors who can help us out with detailed spreadsheets!) barcoded, security tagged and put out on display. Doing this the first time for a space like American Rhino really does take all day!

Have you checked out our time lapse video?!

It took more than 8 hours to set up all the merchandise in the new American Rhino space – tagging, pricing and displaying! We squished all 8 hours into just 58 seconds – so you can watch it evolve in hyper-time!

the finishing touches

Finally, we can jazz up the space with pictures, decorative touches, information about the brand and brand signage which really pulls the space together – and that’s all folks! The space is now ready to welcome you, our lovely customers! We can all breathe a sigh of relief and pat ourselves on the back… for a moment!

Our hard work isn’t done there though – this is when we take over and manage the physical space and our tech team works hard behind the scenes to put the brand online on our website… but that’s a whole other story! Sign up to our newsletter and we might tell you about it some time…!