Ryan Deussing, 31, is the President and Founder of ELSEWARES, an online retailer based in New York City. Unlike your typical retailer, ELSEWARES donates a portion of its profits to one of several non-profit groups that the customer chooses, creating a more socially conscious kind of retail.
Tell us some basic stuff about ELSEWARES.
ELSEWARES is a brand new catalog of cool products from independent designers. We celebrate good design, support cottage industry, and offer a unique resource for design conscious shoppers. I couldn't believe nothing like it existed, so I called a bunch of designers, bought a digital camera, and started ELSEWARES.
How do you choose the products that are sold on Elsewares? Are you looking for new designers? Is it your goal to carry independent designers?
I'm always looking for new products and designers and we're adding to the catalog all the time. Friends tell friends, and I find a lot of stuff online, but I'm also not shy about stopping people on the street or talking to strangers on the subway if they're wearing, carrying, or using something that catches my eye. There aren't any hard and fast rules about what ELSEWARES carries, but our defining trait is the way we work with independent designers, many of whom manufacture their own products, and I have passed on several lines that are made in China for no other reason than to increase the profit margin.
Because you're kind of a shopping pro (or selling), what other stores do you like/frequent?
Well, several ELSEWARES designers run their own stores and they deserve your business. But I actually don't like to shop if it means walking all over New York. Plus, salespeople make me cagey. But I like to go to Macy's and ride the wooden escalators, which are probably as old as the Cyclone, and possibly as dangerous.
Have you taken some cues and lessons from the "dot-com bust" and incorporated them into your business model?
People have written books about this and I've not read any of them, but I think there's a lot to be learned from the success of companies like Craigslist and the failure of ventures a hundred times its size.
Favorite subway line:
The J, M, or Z to Peter Luger.
Best/worst Brooklyn gentrification trend:
Best arthouse movie theater:
I love the Brooklyn Heights Pavillion - if you hear a tall boy crack open during the opening credits, that's me.
Favorite music venue:
Frank's Lounge on Fulton Street.
Favorite coffee joint:
The Victory on Hoyt and State.
Dogs, cats or babies:
Cat: Chairman Meow