Rowan CEO on the Power of People in Creating Joyful Retail Moments

Rowan's CEO shares how the company's commitment to its people and the physical retail experience is driving the brand's growth.

Louisa Serene Schneider did not set out to be a CEO, let alone a founder. But inspiration struck while she was working for a retail-focused hedge fund and realized the lack of safe piercing options for consumers.

This white space became even more obvious to Schneider when she was looking for a safe place to get her young daughter’s ears pierced. “I started thinking about what I wanted her experience to be,” she explained. “I knew I wanted it to be very safe, ideally with a medical professional involved. But I also wanted it to be joyful because, as a parent, you don’t want to minimize those little celebrations in life because they are so important.”

Although safety was top of mind, Schneider didn’t want the experience to feel sterile, or worse, “like getting another vaccine.”

Schneider started Rowan to create a safe yet joyful space for consumers to get pierced, celebrate life’s big moments and, perhaps most importantly, express themselves. The brand’s big differentiator is that its piercers are registered nurses who are trained to pierce all ages, all needs and all ear placements, and also to prioritize the critical after-care stage of the piercing experience.

This blending of fun and safety apparently resonates with the broader market: Rowan plans to open up to 30 new locations this year, essentially doubling its store count. Executives attending the Retail Innovation Conference & Expo June 4-6 in Chicago will be able to get the inside scoop from her on Rowan’s incredible growth trajectory. (To get more details on this year’s event, visit the official #RICE24 content hub.)

Schneider will be speaking in not one, but two, sessions, where she’ll discuss:

  • Making Market Moves: A Collaborative Discussion on International Expansion

    Schneider will join Primark’s Kevin Tulip in a dynamic conversation about international expansion strategies and how she is ensuring the Rowan brand chooses the right path to growth. The conversation will be moderated by Totem Media’s Chris Baker.

  • Building Community-Driven Experiences for the Next Generation

    In conversation with Dan Hodges, CEO of CIM Tours – Retail Store Tours, Schneider will expand upon Rowan’s unique approach to the in-store experience and how its formats are tailored to the distinct needs of different consumers and geographies.

3 Key Community-Building Lessons from Rowan

During the Retail Remix episode, Schneider offered a few tips to help her fellow brand leaders foster community across all channels.

  1. Put your people at the center of brand experiences: Rowan is all about creating a fun and memorable experience for consumers, and its nurses are truly the star of the show. While these piercers are highly trained to ensure the experience is safe, they also lean into the joyful aspect of the in-store experience. In fact, Schneider noted that many piercers find the job to be a positive reprieve from the stressful and hierarchical nature of hospitals and other medical facilities.

    “It has been a tremendous joy working closely with our nurses and watching them meet and get to know our customers and understand why they sought out Rowan and what our brand means to them,” Schneider said. “I am very confident that we have the most caring, most attentive piercers in the world. Our nurses take their time; we’re not rushing. And we make sure that you are happy with the placement and angle of the product and that we’re piercing with perfection.”

  2. Engage around key milestones: Rowan’s mission is to provide “piercing for all.” This translates into a big opportunity for the brand’s marketing and engagement strategy, which Schneider revealed leans heavily on major milestones and landmark experiences.

    “We are actively reaching out on social platforms and bringing this message of joy and celebration,” Schneider said. “As a founder, I initially assumed that everyone got pierced around the ages of 10, 11 or 12, but that wasn’t the case. We have seen a lot of babies and those as old as 75. What we have said is that Rowan is for the young and for the young at heart. And we want to service and take care of customers that prioritize safety and that want to commemorate this moment and have a really joyful experience.”

  3. Collaborate to innovate: Early in its growth journey, Rowan partnered with Target to bring certified piercing pop-ups to the big-box retailer’s stores. Although this collaboration has since ended, it unearthed some valuable takeaways around how to seek and nurture the right relationships within the industry. For Rowan, it helped raise awareness and drive reach via Target’s expansive store network. For Target, it helped drive revenue without risking consumer safety and trust.

    “We see a lot of retailers embarking on piercing because it does drive foot traffic,” Schneider said. “But what is challenging is building a company that supports and engages those who are performing the service. That is what we’re doing and that allows us to scale. Without them, it’s very difficult to create the level of care that is required to have a good piercing outcome.”

    Rowan was able to take the learnings from this experience to properly invest in a branded in-store experience that reaffirm its key differentiators: its people and its focus on creating joyful moments for consumers.

Register now for the Retail Innovation Conference & Expo to hear directly from some of the industry’s most innovative thinkers and brand leaders. Join us to get the inside scoop from brands like Michaels, Babylist, CVS, The Home Depot and many more!