On Monday, Intermix founder Khajak Keledjian took a step away from the chaos of today’s retail industry and entered The Dome.
The Dome is the meditation room at Inscape, Keledjian’s new wellness center that opened this week in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. The center provides a quiet workspace, two meditation rooms, and a retail storefront that sells oils, candles and more products meant to ease the mind. There’s also an accompanying meditation app, which was developed with Keledjian’s business partner Lew Frankfort, the executive chairman and former CEO of Coach.
Keledjian was introduced to meditation while serving as CEO of Intermix. The company sold to Gap in 2013 for $130 million, becoming the company’s highest-end offering—it sells a variety of luxury brands like Yves Saint Laurent and Chloé. But it wasn’t until after the reliably cathartic exile to Burning Man and a series of features in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times that Keledjian realized other urbanites could benefit from a place to come practice meditation.
Keledjian shared his strategy behind making the jump from retail to wellness, how the definition of luxury has changed and why retail will always remain a physical experience.
What a retail store and a meditation center have in common…
“The basics are similar. At Intermix, if you are selling a popular dress, everyone will want to buy it. If we’re offering something to improve people’s lives, people will sign up. You have to understand the psychology and behavior of the user experience.”
…Other than their key difference:
“In fashion, we set the standard for what’s relevant very high. But in the wellness industry, you have to be willing to let go of that need to be at the top and on-trend. It isn’t about that.”
On what’s changed for the luxury shopper:
“People today are willing to buy a $10 juice. Luxury has a different meaning. Whether you’re at a luxury retail store or at a boutique fitness class, you’re always on. Today, luxury is being able to disconnect for 30 minutes and recharge.”
Still, Inscape is available via mobile app for those who can’t make it to the center to unplug.
“People thought that, because of the internet, there wouldn’t be any retail stores anymore, but that wasn’t true. It’s about balancing between the two, the physical and the digital. That’s what’s happening here. With our app, we can reach people in Australia. With our physical studio, we can provide an experience. Where the app is more personalized, the center is more disciplined. They complement each other.”
Why he chose to step away from retail:
“Twenty years ago, you used to ‘go’ shopping. Now it’s an insatiable hobby. When people are buying, their minds are occupied with so many things. We’re finally coming out of a moment of excessiveness, and people are looking more for something that makes a difference to them. It’s not about the quantity, it’s the quality. And more so than things, people want experiences. They want community.”
On where retail is headed:
“The future will be experiential. Rather than 10 different watches, people will own one watch that knows everything about them and feeds them back that information. Technology is improving by the month, and it’s eventually going to completely merge with retail.”