By Niree Noel
All those beautiful stores you see popping up, with intuitive layouts, thoughtful displays, and the most incredible wall fixtures, shelves, and plants that you just have to have? Those stores don’t happen overnight, and they definitely don’t happen without the help of little-known, behind-the-scenes magicians known as retail strategists. Last year, as we were hurdling over the honeymoon phase of “oh how magnificent! We’re opening a store!” and into the hard-work phase of, “oh shit, we’re actually opening a store,” we were lucky enough to nab the talented Krista J. Boyer, who had designed and managed one of our favorite downtown LA outposts, Alchemy Works.
Krista setting the table with eucalyptus.
We met Krista in 2015 when we wandered into Alchemy Works; we immediately hit it off. She became a fast friend, our first member in the LA chapter of Spring Street, a collaborator on Secret Suppers, and eventually, our trusted expert as we worked through the aesthetics and logistics of opening stay.
Every last corner of stay had that extra welcoming touch, thanks to Krista.
Before moving from New York to Los Angeles for the Alchemy Works gig–a gig that would propel her from behind-the-scenes to in-the-scene–Krista worked in retail, fashion, and hospitality for a decade. Building her career from merchandiser and buyer to stylist, wardrobe director, and operations manager from brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Billy Reid, and Kate Spade, Krista developed a unique perspective of understanding what goes into a phenomenal retail experience, from all angles. She has a keen eye for what makes a space inviting, a deep passion for inventory organization in the form of spreadsheets, and intuitive style. Aka, all the components of a trendsetting entrepreneur.
As she built more brand activations, pop-up shops, and retail spaces at the center of culture and community (like the Giving Key’s Airstream to the newly-opened retail concept THE ARC, focused on female entrepreneurs and makers), Krista found her niche. “After working with Alchemy Works on the wholesale and brand development side, I found that I loved retail even more when I could drive sales through creating memorable experiences,” Krista says. “I had no idea this was the start of me stepping into a bigger role as a retail coach and strategist.”
Fast forward a few summers later, to when Krista took that newfound love and confidence and turned it into her own agency. She founded The Brekka Group, which has evolved into Retail for the People; she and her team provide start-to-finish, full-service pop-up shop operations and retail strategy coaching, working with innovative creatives, individuals, brands, and influencers as well as emerging and established retail companies to make those unforgettable experiences.
Our very first Secret Supper in Los Angeles. March 2015.
Says Krista: “Retail can be a platform to do more than just sell goods. I love people, and I love spaces. I love creating spaces that let people connect with each other to feel something deeper. To me, retail is the catalyst for community. When you can come together and share stories and dreams? That’s when the real ‘retail magic’ happens.”
But Krista’s hospitality doesn’t stop at the front door. Part of the reason working with Krista is so special is that no matter the task or complicated ask, she figures out a creative way to get things done. Whether she’s setting our supper table full of stunning greens (last minute and on an extremely tight budget, too), acting as our de facto stay manager by checking in on staff weekly, or explaining complicated analytics and metrics that would have given us nightmares had we tried to figure it out on our own, Krista has been our savior time and time again. But we’re not alone; given her congeniality, charm, and savvy, it’s no wonder even Skrillex counts on her to pull off that retail-magic only she can do (like getting twenty hoodies custom embroidered and delivered on New Years Eve).
So where is Krista today? “I’m working out of a rad space in downtown LA and feeling very thankful to have the chance to work with people and brands that inspire me. 2018 is the year the retail industry is going to really rock and roll. I’m super excited to be part of changing the status quo, to continue serving more brands and more people as well as I possibly can.”