Go behind the scenes with some of our favorite makers! We sat down with these entrepreneurs for a deep dive on their businesses, what makes them tick and what they’ve got in store for the future! Join us as we Meet the Maker!
This time, we sat down with Diana Albrecht of Apartment No.3! Let’s dive in.
Q: Give us your back story! What made you want to start your business?
A: I have been a ballet dancer pretty much all my life (since I was 3 years and professionally since 16); at 18 I came to the US from my country Paraguay to pursue my dream of becoming a ballet dancer. Through a ballet Grand Prix competition in NYC I got my first professional contract as a ballet dancer at the Washington Ballet in Washington, DC. I then moved to dance for the Boston Ballet in Boston, MA where I also got my Business Management degree at Northeastern University. In 2017 I started to look at how to explore other passions of mine. I love to learn about cultures, I love home decor and design, and as I was finishing school I started to develop this drive for having my own business. I began to develop a few ideas and designs of products I wanted to make, and with the help of my father in Paraguay we decided to collaborate with artisans in my country and create a line of products that blended traditional crafting techniques with modern design. We work directly with artisans, which is one of the most important parts of my business. I have now expanded my line of products and collaborate with artisans in India, Morocco, Turkey, Indonesia, among others. I love learning about the story and tradition behind each crafting technique. At the same time we aim to help artisans who need their products to gain exposure and recognition beyond local markets. I recently retired from dancing professionally and I am a full-time shop owner now.
Q: Did you come in with experience or did you learn as you went?
A: I had zero experience in business. It was a bit challenging starting out, but I have learned so much by doing everything myself and learning from other businesses’ success stories. I feel that my career as a ballet dancer gave me the tools to navigate this new chapter in my life. The artist in me is present every time I create new designs, new collections, create my marketing campaigns, think about the aesthetics when styling my products, visualize how I want my products to be photographed and shown in social media, as well as selling my products.
Q: What makes Apartment No.3 unique compared to other companies?
A: We work with artisans and artists from all over the world to bring high-quality products to you and your home. All of our products are handcrafted with a lot of attention to detail, and either hand-picked, curated or designed to be made exclusively for our shop. Apartment No.3 was inspired by my passion for arts, cultures, home decor, and my desire to make a positive impact across communities of artisans that are deserving of exposing their crafts beyond local markets. What makes us different is that our goals are to create a lifestyle brand with products that are not mass produced; we want to have a direct relationship with artisans, so we understand the crafting process and learn about their stories, avoiding middlemen. We aim to celebrate time tested traditional techniques and blend it with innovative modern design.
Q: What kinds of challenges have you had to overcome as a small business owner and entrepreneur?
A: The hardest challenge was to get our products seen and to find our own path. It’s great to follow the footsteps of other brands, but it might not work for you all the time. It is all about knocking doors and trying to strive for a great customer experience. As a small shop owner in early stages, I have to wear many hats if not ALL the hats from marketing, accounting, photography sometimes, social media, fulfillment of orders, to website listings and descriptions, SEO, outreach, sourcing, creating new products, trying to fulfill products fast because big corporations have set new standards when it comes to expectations in shipping times, it is time consuming but extremely rewarding when you see that people appreciate your products/work.
Q: How have you coped with COVID? How have you had to pivot?
A: Covid-19 hit when I was still living in Boston, I had landed a great opportunity to sell my products in person for a month. The event got cancelled, and my business had to take a break from market opportunities, and then we moved to Tampa. I didn’t know anyone and was not familiar with the markets in the city. I researched a lot but most events were cancelled as well. I decided to sew cloth masks since there was not enough PPE available at the time and sold them in the shop. I also redesigned my website and took the time to tweak a few things that I never had time to get to. When we re-launched the website after we moved to Tampa there was a big change in traffic, and sales. I was happy to see that my work had paid off during such a challenging time! Covid-19 has taken all of us off guard but I believe that we are going to come out of this stronger!
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
A: I wake up between 5-8am, make my coffee, exercise. Then go directly to my computer to check analytics from the day before. I write down on a planner what I need to do everyday and try to go down the list of things. Some of the tasks include: shipping orders, designing new products, talking to my artisan partners (usually early in the morning because of the time zone differences), posting on social media, replying to emails, doing styling and product photoshoots, getting supplies if I’m running low, and I am always researching new opportunities online! I find myself doing things for the business here and there until 8-9 pm sometimes. When you work from home it’s hard to stop working and give yourself a schedule to follow. I am still working on that.
Q: Is this your full time job?
A: I am a full time shop owner!
Q: What are your goals for the future of Apartment No.3?
A: Hopefully a lot of people know about Apartment No.3 in the future! I want to grow my business, grow my line of products, grow my staff, explore the world, make new relationships and create new products with artisans around the globe. In 5-10 years I see myself as a very proud woman that hopefully inspired others to work hard and pursue their dreams!
Q: What do you like most about what you do? What keeps you going?
A: I love every single aspect of running my shop, from designing to creating content for social media, but the most rewarding thing is to see the reaction of people towards my products. That makes everything worth it. Hope keeps me going: hoping for the future of my shop, caring for my shop and seeing it grow.
Q: What are you looking forward to most, post-COVID?
A: I am looking forward to traveling, learning more about different cultures, crafting techniques, the beautiful diverse cultures and people in the world. Hopefully, doing more pop-ups and markets in Florida, creating new collections of products, and keep working towards growing Apartment No.3.
Q: We’re suckers for fun facts! Tell us more about you; share some deep dark secrets!
A: Definitely not a morning person but coffee helps a lot! I like to explore the outdoors; in 2021 I hope to dedicate more time to my YouTube channel, Diana Albrecht at Apartment No.3, to show more of what Florida has to offer. I am not married, I have been with my boyfriend for 13 years! He was also a professional ballet dancer and we started dating after we were paired to dance Romeo and Juliet together, very cliche but sweet at the same time! We were so young! I have a cat, Lucy, who is 13 years old.
Fun fact: Our logo is the shape of an earring. It was my mother’s favorite earring; she passed away as we were creating Apartment No.3. We made it to be the logo so she is with us on this journey and it’s our lucky charm! The number 3 comes from the fact that we are 3 siblings, and that my apartment in Boston, where everything started was Apartment No.3 so the number 3 has a lot of meaning for us.
CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF APARTMENT NO.3?! US EITHER. VISIT THEIR SITE AND SHOP THEIR FULL LINE OF PRODUCTS, OR GIVE THEM A FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM OR FACEBOOK!
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