Kendall and Libby Glazer of Stoney Clover Lane: “The guest experience is incredibly important to us”

The people. The teams that we have in-store, in our fulfillment center, and in our corporate office are all extensions of the two of us when it comes to accomplishing our mission and delivering the Stoney Clover Lane experience. We work really hard to ensure our team is comprised of people who are passionate about […]

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

The people. The teams that we have in-store, in our fulfillment center, and in our corporate office are all extensions of the two of us when it comes to accomplishing our mission and delivering the Stoney Clover Lane experience. We work really hard to ensure our team is comprised of people who are passionate about the brand and what we’re bringing to our customers, and we think that really translates when shopping with us!

As part of my series about the “How To Create A Fantastic Retail Experience That Keeps Bringing Customers Back For More”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sisters Kendall and Libby Glazer.

Kendall and Libby are the co-founders of lifestyle brand Stoney Clover Lane, one of the fastest growing accessories companies in the marketplace. They began Stoney Clover Lane in 2009 as teenagers and fashioned the endeavor into a multimillion-dollar brand in less than a decade. With a successful eCommerce business and quick expansion into the retail space with four brick-and-mortars and counting, Kendall and Libby Glazer have solidified Stoney Clover Lane as the go-to brand for customizable lifestyle accessories.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Stoney Clover Lane began in 2009 as a creative outlet making beaded bracelets. What started as a hobby, quickly blossomed as we leveraged social media to get our products into the hands of A-List celebrities at a time when no one else was really doing that yet! Over time, the business grew and changed as our interests shifted and one of the categories we moved into was novelty patches. We saw our customers were customizing their existing handbags and accessories with our patches and that’s when we realized we should start creating our own products to customize. The rest is sort of history!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

We were actually revisiting this mistake relatively recently! As we were initially building the brand from the ground up, there were times when we would consult with people to help us along the way since we were so young and new. One of the consultants we worked with insisted that our website needed to be black and red for people to take us seriously versus the bright, fun colors that we were leaning towards. It’s hysterical to look back and see how crazy the website looked! It didn’t take us long to realize that we should trust our gut and what feels right for the brand.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

While there’s definitely been people to help us along the way, the most substantial person who has helped us reach where we are today is honestly each other. As sisters, we often get asked if it’s ever difficult working with family but it’s actually the opposite. We each have areas of the business that we excel in or focus on while we both collectively contribute to the entire operation. It’s been nice to have each other to bounce ideas off of and work through challenges with!

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

There are so many books that are special to us, we can’t possibly choose one! We love reading and this past year we actually started an SCL Book Club. Although we initially created it as an employee initiative, it quickly grew into something bigger and better. Our Stoney Clover community joins us every month as we read a book hand selected by us and the rest of the Stoney Clover Lane team. We’re big believers that books are magic, and love to share what we’re reading with our dedicated followers. You can find out what book we’re reading on our Instagram @StoneyClover

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Stoney Clover Lane is best known for bringing much-desired personality and vibrancy to a historically unexpressive category of accessories. We think that foundation alone makes us stand out because there’s no other company offering anything close to our level of customization options and quality of product.

Separate from the product and our offerings, we also think our relationship with our customers makes us stand out. We’re the sole managers of our social media accounts and we interact everyday with our community. We’ve gotten to personally know our followers through Instagram and meeting them while they shop in our stores. We hear them out on feedback, celebrate their milestones, and remember details about them that come in handy later. One specific story that comes to mind is a customer who was really devastated to miss out on a specific item from our first Cozy collection. When we launched the latest iteration of Cozy, we sent her a package on us with some of the product before it launched to make sure she got her hands on exactly what she wanted!

Those relationships are one of the most important things to us both personally and we think that personal connection has resonated with our customers and set us apart from other brands.

Separate from those, we think the overall magic of Stoney Clover Lane makes us unique. Our products are luxe and elevated but in a way that’s colorful, happy, fun, and whimsical. We bring that spirit to everything we do from building out our retail stores to curating special experiences like our Pink Pumpkin Patch in Palm Beach or special seasonal events we do like SCL Cozy Hot Cocoa. We bring the magic of the brand to events and experiences our customers can take part in and we think people like experiences outside of just regular shopping!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Definitely staying true to yourself and gravitating towards whatever feels right to you. Our entire business is based on our lives, what we’re loving, and what we’re using. If we don’t personally LOVE something, we don’t produce it because it won’t feel genuine to our customers who have come to trust and love our recommendations.

We think that by consistently following what we love and new things that inspire us, the brand always stays fresh and exciting not just for us, but for our customers as well. With that, comes the introduction of lots of new things! Never be afraid to introduce something new or step outside your comfort zone. We went from bracelets to patches to pouches because that’s what our interests developed into. By constantly evolving, you prevent burn out.

Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. The so-called “Retail Apocalypse” has been going on for about a decade. The Pandemic only made things much worse for retailers in general. While many retailers are struggling, some retailers, like Lululemon, Kroger, and Costco are quite profitable. Can you share a few lessons that other retailers can learn from the success of profitable retailers?

We can definitely share lessons that worked for us! The number one thing that drives our success in brick-and-mortar is the curated experience in our stores. You get an absolutely different experience customizing in person than you would online and that’s why people are willing, able, and excited to come visit us in person. You’re not just perusing shelves or flipping through a rack when you shop with us, you’re touching, playing, and creating your own product on-site.

Like every brand, at the beginning of the pandemic we were trying to find authentic ways to connect with our customers. Separate from just maintaining that connection, we also had to find a way to get product to customers given our fulfillment center was closed. We really took a step back, re-evaluated, and made some tough decisions that we knew would put us in a better position once the pandemic improved.

These pivots included both of us hand making products at home from beaded bracelets to hand tie-dying pajamas and shipping them directly to our customers. We also ideated and introduced SCL TAKEOUT, a quick (and cute!) curbside shopping experience for our customers to purchase popular pre-sewn items that are hand delivered to their car in a custom to-go box by a sales associate in an SCL TAKEOUT branded apron.

We also used social media to engage in new ways and introduced our Stoney Clover Lane Book Club and Stoney Clover Lane University, a free zoom session with Kendall where she shares different business lessons she learned from building Stoney Clover. These were great ways for us to organically connect in a meaningful way!

Through those experiences, we think the most valuable lessons we learned were to not be afraid to get your hands dirty and to trust your gut when it comes to decision making. We worked around the clock hand making products to ensure we had something to offer our customers, and we also made some really tough decisions, but both of those factors set us up for success down the line.

Amazon is going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?

To us, it’s all about quality! We’ve brought a luxury look and feel to our products with the materials and hardware we chose, while making the product available at a lower price point than most luxury accessories. You have one chance to make a good impression, so we ensure our product quality is in line with our own personal expectations before introducing anything to our customers. Our customer has come to know, expect, and love that care and emphasis we put on quality and it sets our products apart from alternatives.

We’ll be the first to acknowledge that other brands offer pouches at all different price points. You can find a pouch on Amazon or anywhere else, but our customers choose to come back to us because of the quality they know and love, and the experience that we offer. From customizing their unique product to unboxing it in our signature branding, they love and appreciate the whole experience.

We also really open ourselves and the company up to our community. Our followers know the brand, see our employees, get behind the scenes of our office, and really feel a personal collection to SCL and our team. During the pandemic, even though our fulfillment center was closed, there were so many people still rooting for us, shopping with us, and supporting us daily even though we couldn’t get their orders out. They genuinely cared about the success of the company and our team.

We also think the in-store element is crucial and we’ve worked really hard to ensure everyone who steps into our stores, leaves with a positive experience. When you’re at Stoney Clover, it’s not just shopping but an activity and that alone is a reason to shop with us both online and in-store.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a retail business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

The most common mistakes you tend to see are CEOs and founders are trying to emulate something based on someone else’s success, trying to replicate versus building your own identity, and losing their way from their original mission as they grow and expand.

This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business in general and for retail in particular?

The guest experience is incredibly important to us, both personally, as founders, and as a brand. Besides creating quality products, our exceptional guest experience is what we are most proud of and work hardest to provide to our consumers. Our goal is to provide a luxury and elevated guest experience whether you’re visiting us online or in our stores, and we think that can really set a brand apart. With countless options from a retail and online perspective, people want to shop in stores that make them feel good and give you something beyond the regular shopping experience, which all of our stores do! It really doesn’t take much to offer a great guest experience but so few companies really do it, and we think that makes us stand out.

We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?

Different companies prioritize different things from their retail experiences and while you’d think that customer experience would always be a top priority, it’s definitely apparent in certain retail sectors that it’s not. There are companies that might prioritize offering products at a lower cost by skimping on guest experience, and they have customers who know and understand that and shop with them for that reason. It’s just a matter of different priorities.

Our number one priority has and always will be that customer experience. We want people visiting our stores to feel like they’re on a vacation, to feel uplifted and happy when they’re shopping with us. It’s the cornerstone of our strategy and so we invest our time and efforts into making that happen.

Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?

That personal connection is super important to us so there’s been a ton of WOW experiences over the years. Most commonly is the surprise and delight we see from customers who share on social that they’re traveling to one of our stores to celebrate a birthday or another milestone. If we see a post in time, we always try to bring it to the store’s attention so they’re ready with a birthday treat and something on us to make their day special. We also think we view customer relationships differently than other brands do when it comes to those extra experiences. We appreciate and recognize our followers who engage with us on social and are longtime supporters of the brand — it’s not about their spend or whether they’re frequently ordering.

Did that Wow! experience have any long-term ripple effects? Can you share the story?

We think the personal connection we develop with our customers has long-term effects in building brand loyalty! People appreciate being appreciated and acknowledged!

A fantastic retail experience isn’t just one specific thing. It can be a composite of many different subtle elements fused together. Can you help us break down and identify the different ingredients that come together to create a “fantastic retail experience”?

The product, the people and the experience!

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a fantastic retail experience that keeps bringing customers back for more? Please share a story or an example for each.

We think it’s something different for everyone depending on your brand and what you’re trying to accomplish! For us the five most important things that keep our customers coming back for more are below.

The product. What you’re putting out into the world for customers to purchase is obviously the foundation of a good retail experience. We focus on producing well-made products that are built to last while also delivering something new, fun, and exciting for our customers each season. We also consider our packaging and branding to go hand in hand with the product! We ideate and develop seasonal branding and collateral that is consistently fresh for our customers. An example would be the branding we developed for Valentine’s Day that featured an updated invoice folder, postcard, and stickers. It was so cute that everyone was sharing their unboxings on Instagram and some people would even reach out requesting specific stickers in their orders!

The destination. Each of our retail locations have their own unique identity, branding, and offerings that make them a destination in their own right. While they all encompass the overall Stoney Clover Lane vision, creating unique identities for each of our markets provides a reason and purpose to visit each of our stores. We see people travel from all over to see our retail locations and we think it’s a really special element of our retail strategy. It’s a bucket list item for people! You can see this in any of our retail locations or when we speak to specific stores across web! They each have their own colors, branding, icons, and identity which are used across in-store collateral, marketing, and exclusive products.

The experience. While the overall shopping and store atmosphere is crucial, we’ve also built our entire company on the experience of customizing. Shopping in our stores or online is an activity rooted in creativity and individuality. Our customers come in and pick and play from different products and colorways before working through their patch customizations. We see people who customize for thirty minutes and we see people who stay and customize for hours. It’s an activity that people can come and spend time doing versus just perusing a rack in a store, and it’s one of the reasons people love shopping with us. Separate from a regular shopping visit, we also work immensely hard to curate branded experiences and events for our customers to enjoy the magic of Stoney Clover Lane. We try to curate memorable moments year-round in each of our markets. When we opened our Newport Beach location, we celebrated with a nod to that market by decking out a Duffy Boat in custom Stoney Clover Lane branding. We had a pink SCL boat for three months after opening that our customers could enjoy complimentary rides on! It was totally unique to Newport Beach and provided an additional dose of SCL for our customers.

The people. The teams that we have in-store, in our fulfillment center, and in our corporate office are all extensions of the two of us when it comes to accomplishing our mission and delivering the Stoney Clover Lane experience. We work really hard to ensure our team is comprised of people who are passionate about the brand and what we’re bringing to our customers, and we think that really translates when shopping with us!

The connection. As we talked about earlier, both of us prioritize and appreciate forging connections with our customers. Whether we’re answering questions over DM or helping them customize in-store, that direct line to the people who shop and support our brand is beneficial to us both personally and professionally. Our brand loyalists also expect and love that element of our business. They always know where to reach us and they always know we’ll answer, which we think forges a personal connection with the brand.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Definitely something to help eliminate poverty and provide essentials to those in need! We’re really proud of our partnership with Baby2Baby, a non-profit that provides children living in poverty with diapers, clothing, and all of the basic necessities that every child deserves. We work with them throughout the year and support various initiatives they have while also curating our own experiences for the kids they support. We especially love to support them around Back to School by providing backpacks to their network of families!

How can our readers further follow your work?

You can follow our well-accessorized journey @StoneyClover on Instagram or on either of our personal accounts, @KendallArin @Libby.Glazer!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

    You might also like...


    Kendall and Libby Glazer of Stoney Clover Lane: “Never feel like you’re above any aspect of the business”

    by Chef Vicky Colas

    Weston Holm of Blue Clover Distillery: “Be Prepared to Sacrifice”

    by Karina Michel Feld

    Susan David on Bringing Our Whole Selves to Work

    by Susan David, Ph.D.
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.