Welcome to the Gift Shop – an interview with the brains behind our gift shop operation
IAMA’s warm and friendly gift shop grows more successful day by day due to the staff’s hard work. Our staff works together to create the gift shop’s atmosphere. They make careful choices over what the gift shop carries and work diligently to keep the environment welcoming to our visitors.
We interviewed two ladies on the team to hear about how they run the IAMA gift shop in their own words.
IAMA: How do you create IAMA’s gift shop’s unique atmosphere?
Phaedra Restad: We shift and restyle displays and merchandise to adapt to seasonal changes and sales trends. We love to highlight the products based on IAMA’s artwork, as well as the San Francisco items, to give people a context of place.
Ayanna Madison: Being very welcoming with a positive attitude and big, bright smiles.
IAMA: What effort in general goes into running a museum gift shop?
Phaedra Restad: Having a constant flow of new and exciting products is key. The more the store expands, the more great products we will be able to design. There is definitely a momentum to it that is building!
Ayanna Madison: Again, a positive attitude and big, bright smiles. Looking for possible sources for our inventory is the fun part! We look for trade fairs, handmade/local business and getting in touch with manufactures to see what they’re offering. To be effective with our products, we look for rare and special items so our visitors leave our shop with unique and precious items.
IAMA: How do you choose what merchandise is right for IAMA?
Phaedra Restad: We seek to reflect the Museum’s mission and its artwork when choosing merchandise. We try to find items made ethically from around the world. We also favor local craftsmen and manufacturers. It’s important to us to try and support local Bay Area businesses, as well as international products that are unique, fair trade, or have an ethical mission behind them. We want to promote world peace, a lofty mission, but one that is reflected in both the art and the products at IAMA.
Ayanna Madison: To see what’s on trend, I browse other store’s product selection and make mental notes from what I see in fashion and home magazines, TV shows and everyday people’s fashion.
IAMA: Are any items here particularly popular?
Phaedra Restad: The products based on our artwork are popular. I think people want to be reminded of their unique experience at the museum. We also feature local and international artisans, like our hand-dyed silk scarves by Sharon Gellerman, and our fair trade jewelry sets from South African designers, Brass Images. People seem to gravitate toward things that are unique and special.
Ayanna Madison: I feel that all of our goodies are popular. It all depends on the day and the visitors, but we have a really good collection of items. We are still blossoming every day, and we have something to offer everyone.
IAMA: How does the store support the museum?
Phaedra Restad: The store is a very important part of IAMA. The shop is, in some ways, an extension of the museum. We have some unique artwork for display including two paintings from contemporary artists and an intricate wood carving for display. The shop also functions as both a gallery, to display limited edition prints, as well as giving our museum guests an opportunity to take a little piece of IAMA with them in their purchases. All of the purchases go back into supporting the museum.
Ayanna Madison: The museum and the gift shop feed off each other. It’s like a relationship. They both support each other.
IAMA: Now to learn a little about both of you. How long have you worked with IAMA?
Phaedra Restad: I’ve been working at IAMA for a little over a year now. There have been a lot of changes and improvements; it’s definitely growing.
Ayanna Madison: I have been working for IAMA for ten months. It will be a year in May! I have been blossoming just like IAMA!
IAMA: Where are you both from?
Phaedra Restad: I’m from Colorado originally and moved to the Bay Area over two years ago.
Ayanna Madison: I am a Bay Area native from Berkeley.
IAMA: What are your interests and ways to unwind outside of work?
Phaedra Restad: I am a calligrapher and interested in all kinds of visual art. I also love exploring and learning more about the history of the Bay Area.
Ayanna Madison: My hobbies are shopping, traveling, watching movies and documentaries, reading fashion magazines and love novels, trying new restaurants and listening to music.
IAMA: One last question. What are your personal hopes for IAMA’s gift shop?
Phaedra Restad: My hope is that we can create more connections with customers, vendors, and guests. I hope our store continues to thrive as a place to find beautiful and interesting merchandise that pairs well with the museum’s beautiful artworks on display!
Ayanna Madison: My hope for the IAMA shop is to continue to blossom uniquely and establish close relationships with our visitors and members. We enjoy, and work hard, ensuring that every item we offer is of the best quality.
By Audrey Fleury