We love celebrating successful women here at UrbanGirl. We are starting a new series of interviews with successful women, and we hope to inspire young women to take interest in all forms of business and entrepreneurship. I thought that the perfect woman to highlight as our first success story would be the “Urban Girl” herself, Dyan Condry, owner of UrbanGirl.com.
What inspired you to create UrbanGirl?
I have been in the office supply business since 1989. My husband and I own a local company. We have our own drivers who deliver office supplies to local businesses. We wanted to expand, and what better way to reach customers in this day and age than on the Internet?
The concept for UrbanGirl, our niche, is that I am the customer. She is someone like me, who works hard, but still enjoys having stylish things in her office. I wanted a unique look for our site, a place more like a trendy fashion site. A place that I would enjoy shopping. A lot of office supply companies are old-fashioned. They are run by men, and they think of men as their customers. They are not willing to change with the times and to recognize that women are their customers; women are running offices, running businesses. UrbanGirl is a small company, and we understand our customer, because, well, I kind of understand myself! We are willing to change and offer different and unique products that our customers will love. We continue to voice our opinions to suppliers to manufacture supplies that are not only functional, but also fashionable, cute, colorful, and fun! Believe me, it is an ongoing campaign!
I am excited that people who visit our site and buy from us LOVE our products and our customer service. I am proud to say that UrbanGirl was chosen by Internet Retailer magazine as one of the top 100 online retailers. Woohoo! Tickled pink!
In addition to the stylish products, does UrbanGirl carry the basic office essentials?
We sure do! There will always be a demand for commodity office supplies such as manilla file folders, canary legal pads, black staplers and such. We have all of that, but our site just makes it easy to also find the fun and fashionable products. Customers can shop by color, by pattern, and by designer. Other sites highlight the basics. Our focal point is the more colorful, cute, and stylish office supplies and accessories.
Who is the UrbanGirl customer?
We sell to law firms, manufacturing companies, real estate agents, doctors’ offices, and a plethora of other businesses across the country. We also ship to residences, work-from-home offices, and moms!
Why should consumers buy from small businesses such as UrbanGirl?
There is a frightening aspect to me as a consumer–where are all the mom and pop shops? What is the face of the retailing business going to be in five years if the big box stores are the only option? I would hate to see the disappearance of the little shops and boutiques that make shopping special. In the online world, there are the small business boutique-type stores and then there are the “giants.” UrbanGirl is a woman-owned small business. Our advantage over the giant internet retailers? ME! I know you’ve placed an order and I appreciate that you liked our site! I’m available to listen to what suggestions you have to make our site better. We employ the same personal service practices with UrbanGirl that we exercise with our local company. The service aspect may be different online, but the personal touch is still evident. I write a hand-written note to a new customer, and we have a real person to speak with on the phone during office hours. If you do catch us after-hours, we will call you back. We love to chat! We also enjoy interacting with our customers through email. We also love to write!
I have a vision for the future of our small internet business: I would like it to succeed because not only is there is pride involved because it is something we created ourselves, but for the people who work for me. I want success for them. We are a family!
There was a time when women believed they had to look and act like men in order to succeed. Is that time gone? In other words, is it OK to have a pink office?
I have a pink office, so I would say yes! I think that women do not have to hide their femininity or be “one of the guys” to make a difference in their profession. However, I own my own business, so I can have a pink office. It may not be the same for every woman in the workforce. Things are changing for women, but we still have challenges that men do not necessarily face. I was fortunate in that my husband was supportive of my decision to stop working for a time to raise my children. I was able to come back to work after a few years, and I have worked full-time since then. With all the kids out of the house, I couldn’t leave the dog home alone, so I had to bring him to work! Our employees love having a furry friend to love on. Our baybee Tucker is great for laughs and his presence has a calming effect.
Selling office supplies, I see a trend toward the home office. I see more opportunities available now that allow women to work from home, and they want a paisley file folder instead of a plain vanilla manila folder! Whether you have an office or a cubicle at work, a home office or a desk in the kitchen, UrbanGirl’s sentiment is it is not an indulgence when you surround yourself with the things that make you happy.