In: Budgeting, Tips

Being creatives at heart, one of our favorite elements of pop-up planning is diving-in and unloading all of our built up creativity. While we fully recommend to anyone designing a pop-up to stay open-minded and unleash even their most extravagant ideas, we know it is always in our best interest to keep organized and make sure we have created the right starting point. To help simplify this we have narrowed down our top three areas to have in place before diving into the full design and layout of the space: your colors, your materials, and lastly your budget.

Previously, we presented tips on how to create color and material palettes. Once these are in place always have an idea of your budget parameters before beginning to ensure your design is something you can realistically produce. This saves us the heartache of designing something we love and after the fact realizing we do not have the funds to create it.

To identify our budget we begin with understanding the location and the space we have to work with. We then follow these three key steps to finding your budget range and areas of opportunity:

Look to your branding and product price points to define your top budget range

If you are feeling lost when it comes to pinpointing the exact range for your design budget a good starting point is to think about your brand and who you are selling to. Are you a luxe brand with a high price point? Most likely you will need to secure high-end fixtures. The lifestyle of your buyer is important and if your customer has a high-income they should feel they are buying quality through the presentation of the product. They would not want to buy a $800 bag off of a folding table!

When you first begin the branding process for your company and narrowing down your key customer there are many questions you ask yourself. Who is my buyer? What does he/she care about? What does he/she do for fun? Where does he/she dine? etc. These questions should not be lost in the design process. While all these should already be defined, your store should encompass your branding and always appeal to this main customer. You should then be able to figure out the highest budget you will need to ensure your store appeals to this key demographic.

Insider Tip: Here is a question we ask our clients when their budgets are still undefined and they are looking for guidance:

What design and decor stores would you align your brand with?

This does not mean that you need to limit yourself to buying from these stores, but identifying this will help give a better picture of not just your budget but the aesthetic as well. A few stores to think of:

  • Ikea
  • Restoration hardware
  • Crate and barrel
  • Target
  • West Elm
  • CB2
  • All Modern
  • Etsy

Once you understand the top range you can work with, you should follow these next two steps to find different areas of spending and opportunity.

Identify Areas for High/Low Buying

This term does not just work for fashion! Just like you might pair your J.Brand Jeans with an H&M top, you can utilize this concept when designing your store. This can be especially useful if you are feeling cautious about staying within budget but have areas in mind that you know you want to splurge. Knowing that you also have areas you don’t mind cutting back on will open up the possibilities. It is a compromise, a give and take.

We recommend sorting out these areas and finding the perfect High/Low ratio prior to beginning your layout and design. An easy way to figure this out is to break up the design areas by fixtures, decor,and signage. You should then look back to the store concept and aesthetic to know the importance of each area. A few examples:

Minimalistic: High: Fixtures, Low: Decor, Signage
Artistic: High: Decor, Signage, Low: Fixtures
Educational: High: Signage, Low: Fixtures, Decor

This may not make sense for every brand, but if you have the flexibility to find these opportunities it can really help you maximize the use of your budget and even bring it down.

Know your team’s capabilities and your network

Buying is not the only way to create your store design. Thinking outside the box can really help to minimize your overall design budget. Two ways we do this:


Team capabilities: What are the creative capabilities within your team? You may already have graphic designers and visual merchandisers within your team or other team members may have some hidden artistic abilities. If you have these capabilities and it is on-brand for your company, utilize the DIY. Bringing some of the production in-house can greatly decrease your costs so you can either use them elsewhere or bring down your budget.

As a creative company we are always researching and getting creative inspiration year round that we then utilize in our pop-ups. For our client Ode à la Rose, we created a pop-up with a French Renaissance concept that incorporated beautiful park scenes in the windows with strategically placed roses. To take the design up a level we took advantage of our in-house talents, creating handmade miniature handmade air balloons carrying down roses to the park scene below. The display garnered praise and drew passersby into the store and was also very budget friendly. Win-win.



Your Network: Do you have any relationships that align with your store design needs? We often utilize our network to create partnerships that both brands can benefit from. Partnering with furniture and decor brands that aligns with your company and appeals to the design concept and aesthetic of the store can greatly help to minimize your budget.

We have worked with many pop-ups where partnerships were utilized to enhance the design of the space. J.Hilburn partnered with KRRB for their first pop-up, A Fortnight in Soho. KRRB sent industrial chic pieces that worked well with the store design in return for exposure and signage in the space as well as being able to sell the items in store. Another pop-up, Mira Fitness, utilized a partnership with Lulu and Georgia whose colorful and witty collection aligned perfectly to Mira’s branding and the store’s “It’s a Women’s World” concept.

Following these three steps will not only help you find a goal for where you would like your overall design budget to come to but also take you a step ahead by knowing areas of focus, areas for high/low buying, and areas where you can bring down your spend. Now that you have all you need to create your design foundation with the three key areas, color palette, materials palette, and budget, you are ready for the fun part!