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This week Rick Wilson was joined by Kyle Tortora, owner of Lotus Sculpture, to discuss the foundational elements of a successful and enduring online business. The same qualities which “dragonproof” a business during normal times are invaluable during a global crisis.
With warmth and passion, Kyle describes what it’s like to truly connect with a beautiful piece of art, and how he gets that art into the hands of customers who draw strength and meaning from work which is created half a world away. Listen now.
Searching for new products is more than just a job for Kyle Tortora—it’s a vocation. The incredible legwork required to locate and acquire Lotus Sculpture‘s one-of-a-kind pieces of religious art from Asia and India is fueled by something greater than analytics and margins. Kyle’s passionate, adventurous spirit translates into precious value for his customers—even more so as the world reaches for solace during the time of COVID-19.
When you sell fine art, product curation is necessarily very personal and creative. So, how do you know when you have the right statue? According to Kyle, you don’t chose the statue, the statue chooses you.
Right now, as we adapt to nationwide coronavirus lockdowns, that feeling of personal connection with a product becomes a key factor for businesses to endure and ultimately thrive on the other side of the crisis.
Finding a solution for your customers’ social, emotional, and spiritual needs is an incredible—and valuable—gift to give.
Different languages, same currency: passion
Already a traveler and spiritual seeker in love with traditional cultures, Kyle realized he could transform his passion for Eastern artwork into a working business. 20 years later, he has a loyal following of clients and fans who rely upon his experience to find sculptural pieces which speak to the soul.
Kyle’s business is all about “boots on the ground.” Quite literally. Not only must he travel and forge relationships with local artisans from all different cultures, he must also figure out the elaborate protocol that each new region has for working locally and shipping overseas.
The hands-on approach creates personal relationships which are founded on respect for the products. Curating and commissioning pieces requires trailblazing communication styles and workflows which didn’t exist previously. It’s like inventing a new supply chain every time—but this one is driven by appreciation and curiosity as much as by logistics.
Results: An economy that grows from caring
With more people at home than ever before, Lotus has seen an increase in site traffic as shoppers have time to make plans to develop their living and meditation spaces. They are able to browse and place orders now, ahead of the time when exporting timetables return to normalcy.
Not only does this establish a way forward for the business, it also creates opportunity for the many international vendors that Kyle works with.
Ecommerce businesses like Lotus Sculpture are laying the groundwork to support the global economy in the near future. A backlog of orders for individual artists will jumpstart micro-economies, and factor into a larger worldwide resurgence.
In India, for example, there is currently what amounts to a total physical shutdown for production and shipping. But in time this will change, and ecommerce will be ready to fire the engines of recovery when it does.
Fostering the personal connection when we need it most
A good strategy to prepare for that resurgence is to keep building a personal connection with products and customers. In Kyle’s case, that means emails, videos, blogs, travelogues—anything that lets customers tap into why these beautiful sculptures are important, why they are valuable.
Figuring out what separates a commodity from a uniquely valuable product is always a key tenet of dragonproof ecommerce.
Now, this time of home-bound contemplation encourages everyone to find what is uniquely beautiful and meaningful in life. Kyle’s Buddha statues—and his business—have a unique place in that practice. They both support the creation of a deeply meditative space, which looks forward to the seasons to come.
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