LSM Spotlight: Ferrall Dietrich
Ferrall Dietrich, Owner
Core72, Washington, DC
Maybe it is the curious notion that because Ferrall Dietrich didn’t set out to become a retailer that her shop, Core72 in Washington, D.C. has become such a success. Having previously worked in the non-profit segment, Ferrall wanted to create something that “wasn’t just a profit center” and had a greater purpose. Core72 just celebrated its first anniversary and we sat down with Ferrall to learn more about how she brought her vision to life.
Ferrall developed the idea of Core72 out of the challenge she personally experienced in finding fashionable and functional athletic wear. Being a lifelong outdoorswoman (skier, extreme rider, runner – you name it, if it involves being out in the fresh air, Ferrall has probably done it), Ferrall saw a need for well-designed, active sports gear for women. Her own lifelong search introduced her to some great, but hard to find brands, mostly available on the West coast with little or no presence in the East.
So the first element of Core72’s success is a shop full of the elusive garments active women are seeking. 70% of the lines are produced in the US and probably 90% are designed, tested and sold by small, women owned labels. “These brands have some great stories behind them,” she explained. Ferrall has clearly done her research and the brands she has chosen (15Love, Terry Precision Cycling, Oiselle just to name a few) are unique, with great personal stories behind their products, but also provide a level of fit and quality that active women adore.
Choosing the Right Location
We also discussed her decision to open in the Chevy Chase neighborhood of Washington, DC. “I wanted to be in a walking neighborhood, where there is good street traffic, and “less of a corporate feeling.” Coincidentally, the group of shops around the neighborhood are predominately woman-owned and managed businesses. While she has found her customers in need of “active gear,” they are also interested in lifestyle options, so the assortment has shifted over this first year to give her clients some everyday wardrobe options. Ferrall is able to shop with individual clients in mind by being present in the shop. She actively engages her shoppers, and has learned first-hand what they want and will buy.
The Local Marketing Approach
Ferrall found the community welcoming, and after some trial and error, opted to use a community-based approach to marketing her business. “DC is a very small town, whether you work on Capitol Hill or K Street. People all circulate in the same circles,” she explained. Ferrall started with some print advertising, but found that she wasn’t reaching the community she was hoping for. So instead she took her marketing budget and put it into community driven events that have put Core72 on the map.
No less than once a month, Core72 hosts “give back” shopping nights – with a percent of sales going to a non-profit organization or cause that has meaning within the DC community. So far the approach has worked well – the organizations do the word-of-mouth campaigning and advertising for their fund raising event; the community benefits and Core72 reaches its target audience. The events target fitness, health and activity based awareness.
A great example is the twice yearly, end of season clearance – everything in the shop is marked down dramatically and whatever is left at the end of the week-long sale gets donated. This year one group that benefited was a high-school women’s running team. Ferrall was on her way to deliver the goods that week. But don’t get confused that this is a “Marketing Scheme” – this community outreach and impact was just what Ferrall had in mind when she was looking to create a business with a greater purpose.
Sharing the message of Core72 has also relied on an active presence in social media. Core72’s Facebook page is regularly updated with new product arrivals, community events and announcements of what is happening in the shop.
You can expect to see vibrant window displays and tempting offerings from small, hard to find manufacturers. Core72’s clients are clearly engaged – sharing feedback on the products, the events and the experience! The happy feeling of the bricks and mortar experience carries over to the postings.
Connecting the community, the clients and the vendors may not have been part of the original vision, but Core72 has done it all in one short year. We are confident that by keeping true to her vision, Ferrall Dietrich will see continued success in her business with a greater purpose!
For more on all the great things Core72 is doing, check out their website blog and sign up for their newsletter.
Thank you Ferrall for sharing your keys to success with LSMGuide as part of our LSM Spotlight series!