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News / Business / Clark County Business

Working in Clark County: Seanette Corkill, store design/branding consultant

By Kay Richardson, Columbian staff writer
Published: August 1, 2016, 6:02am
3 Photos
Seanette Corkill of Frontdoor Back visits Ice Cream Renaissance, which is one of her clients.
Seanette Corkill of Frontdoor Back visits Ice Cream Renaissance, which is one of her clients. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Seanette Corkill says her occupation is a blend of art and science, observing a retail business then teaching the owner how together they might alter the space to direct people’s shopping behavior in a positive way. “Scientifically, space is finite. I go in, observe and ask questions, apply what I know, then see what we can do to marry my ideas and skills set with what they want to do with the space we have to work with. We don’t focus on perfection, but improvement. If the retailer does better, as a retail designer, I do better. All the boats get lifted with the rising tides.”

Name: Seanette Corkill.

Residence neighborhood: Arnada.

Business name: Frontdoor Back, Retail Store Design, 1701 Broadway No. 271, 360-281-3853. www.frontdoorback.com

Age: 53.

Educational/professional background: I grew up in Denver and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from the Colorado University Leeds School of Business, the most creative aspect I could find among the business degrees, with a healthy dose of design courses on the side. I raced bicycles on the road and track and owned a photo-finish events company, Raceworks, that contracted with sanctioned United States Cycling Federation events all throughout the Midwest. Later, I was a national sales rep for Diamondback and Centurion Bicycles and then director of store design and in-store marketing for a successful multimillion-dollar, multilocation specialty retailer. When I was offered a position in Oregon taking over a territory for a retiring sales rep, I said, “Yeah! I’ll go check it out!” That’s how I got out here, and I stayed.

How — and when — you got started in your business: Working with retailers, I found that regardless of the products I sold them, their success was intricately tied to how they presented themselves to their shoppers. They added or subtracted value to themselves and their — or my — products based on their environments. I became less interested in selling products than I was in helping the retailer sell themselves.

Through a series of fortunate introductions, I was able to work with an internationally known shopper insights company and then a retail store design company to piece together the principles and the know-how on how to create places that shoppers are drawn to and that are profitable for retailers. I gotta do it, not just for you but for me.

Personal/business philosophy: “What is more mortifying than to feel that you have missed the plum for want of courage to shake the tree?” — Logan Pearsall Smith.

Most rewarding part of job: Finding a creative solution to an issue you weren’t sure how you were going to solve. Getting to explore what-if’s with the client and have them begin to re-think how to use their space. I get energized by seeing business owners get reinvigorated about their own business. Retail is not for the weak, and I’ve had the privilege to work with the most hardworking, disciplined, optimistic and intelligent group of people over the years. I learn something new and of value every day from these folks.

Most challenging part of job: In general, design review and planning departments. Not every place is as easy to work with as the city of Vancouver. They have been a rock star group to work with and are always willing to talk about what a good outcome could look like versus just, “here are our rules — now follow them.”

Something surprising about your work: That I have work that I love doing, interesting and different projects from all over the country. I never know where a call will come from these days or who told whom about me. I had hoped and planned for Frontdoor Back to be what it is yet hadn’t thought of how to scale it. I’m now looking for how to expand my capacity by selectively contracting or hiring additional help. I was also surprised that people wanted me to talk about what I do — educate others, so I began improving my speaking skills and taking a ton of photographs of do’s and don’ts so retailers could learn from each other.

Best feature of my Clark County community: The unsung efforts of so many community leaders and volunteers that put on events, coordinate activities and are the catalyst for positive change that benefits that collective commons.

What would make your community a better place: Less derisive, sophomoric and misleading or obfuscating dialogue and actions when discussing issues of public concern from those in positions of influence or elected officials. And more public art!

Your favorite travel destination and type: Fly and catch a taxi to my final destination, then walk, bike or train from the hotel. Combination of educational and recreational. I wouldn’t mind going on a working vacation, perhaps nondenominational overseas help where it’s needed.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: I’m fascinated by The Story, a concept store in New York that changes out their entire store look and product mix every month. The business model is unique in that curator/owner not only receives income from vendors to participate in future iterations, but generates revenue from the sales of goods. Talk about an amazing experience and experiment — always changing, and fresh yet always a destination to see what’s new. It can take risks, “shake the tree” if you will, that others can’t or won’t.

Hobbies: Photography, painting, building, refinishing, decorating, reading, hiking, cycling.

Most enjoyable book/play/movie/arts event in past 12 months: Reading the Neapolitan series right now.

Something you’d like to do this year/within five years: Have a six-week vacation overseas with my husband and kids.

One word to describe yourself: Curious.

Person you would most like to have met: Harriet Tubman.

Columbian staff writer