Today I’m delighted to be sharing my interview with Jennie Fojtik, Head of Leasing at lifestyle-led rental brand Tipi. We chat about Tipi’s exclusive new partnership with John Lewis, the build to rent sector and much more.
Please tell us about your role at Tipi
Predominantly I have been heading up leasing, but now my role has branched into new business ventures and opening new developments – but always with leasing and the customer in mind, so considering things like new business opportunities, furniture procurement, show flats and pre-leasing.
What are the benefits of renting with Tipi?
There are too many to list here! But some immediate benefits to the customer would be zero deposits, no fees and inclusive utilities and broadband – which should take away lots of costs and hassles for our residents moving in with us. However, the bigger picture of renting from Tipi, is we are genuinely trying to create something really special. At the heart of Tipi, is it’s people – People who are striving to deliver something better, to innovate, to develop software to support the business, to strive for great service, passionate to create more diversity of product – there is so much which is happening behind the scenes, all based on customer feedback, changing times and observations we make as our business grows.
Please tell us about your latest collaboration with John Lewis.
This has been an exciting project and one very close to my heart. Furniture can make or break your comfort levels in your apartment – either from a practical perspective (where do you put your stuff) right through to your ability to relax (how comfortable is your sofa and bed?). We have worked with our interior designers and John Lewis to create furniture which is both practical and comfortable, but also fits and complements the individual apartment. It has been a collaborative partnership to develop something which looks and feels very different to what we have previously delivered.
Where did the inspiration for the collection come from?
We were looking for a partner who might ‘think differently’ and be able to deliver a solid service, have great stock, and would be aligned with our passion for the customer and innovation. John Lewis slotted into all of these categories incredibly well and they have worked incredibly hard with us to think about every apartment layout.
From a design perspective – we focused on the sofa being the heart of the home, for high storage units to break up the white walls, for the rugs and curtains to create art and pattern and colour within the apartment.
What do partnerships such as the John Lewis one deliver in terms of the overall resident experience?
I would say a greater depth of thoughtful detail. We genuinely think hard about everything we do; We may not always get it right, but the level of thought and detail will always be there. Some of it, maybe you wouldn’t even notice….probably you’ll just take for granted that your sofa is super comfortable, and there are enough seats for you and your flatmates to lounge comfortably and that your room is super dark at night meaning you get a great night’s sleep ….in a way that’s what we hope, as one often only notices the things which annoy you.
We seek partners who have the same mind set – with John Lewis their two leaders on the project, combined, have worked for them over 30 years – which is a testimony to the brand in the first instance, but the depth of their experience and knowledge really shows, in both the product and the operational installation.
How do you ensure that Tipi’s residents remain at the heart of the service you provide?
We love our surveys which are based on NPS ratings and commentary feedback. We glean so much from these, and whilst it is great to celebrate the positive feedback, the management team are the most passionate about the things people state they want or learning from mistakes we may have made; We see these as opportunities to improve or grow. Our resident’s events also open up conversations with customers, which may otherwise not have happened, where you truly get chance to probe anything which they mention – either in innocence or with intent. We genuinely discuss and debate all the feedback – so we actively encourage our customers to let us know what they think and feel about us and their home.
What has inspired the development of the shared social spaces at Tipi?
There are a number of influences – the evolution of people’s working and socialising habits and lifestyles changing – if you look at co-working spaces, the coffee shop influence, hotel lobbies/amenities becoming a destination for a drink or for working. In addition to that, apartment living is becoming more and more common, especially in London, so creating extra amenity or socialising or working space feels like the natural thing to do. PLUS our goal is to help facilitate a community – so having amenity and social spaces felt like the natural thing to do – both for everyday use and for personal hire. In addition, the USA have proved it works in places like NYC.
What has been the highlight of your work at Tipi to date?
Having been involved in the creation of Tipi – actually seeing it come to life was incredible. Seeing people react positively to your ideas and then to see social spaces and furniture and apartments become “real” after seeing it on bits of paper for so long was really exciting and I definitely feel emotionally connected to our first building for that very reason – so many “firsts”. More recently however, running the Landsby furniture tender and bringing so many new ideas to life working with John Lewis has been incredibly satisfying…..time will tell which ones work the best, but so far so good…..
What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced?
Probably letting go! Being involved in every single decision in the first 18 months of Tipi’s life, and then having to let go to others as you scale, whilst necessary and exciting, can be difficult at times when you have been so close to all the detail. However, it is healthy to do so, as this is how you stretch and learn….some call it change management…..but I call it good old “growing pains”, and no doubt they’ll be a few more in the years to come.