David Pierre-Louis is an artist and entrepreneur with deep ties to the Seattle community. He owns LUCID, a creative art lounge in Seattle’s University District, and is the CEO of DICUL, an exclusive Vodka and Bloody Mary Mix product line. LUCID is a premiere destination for engaging community, arts-focused programming, and emerging music. Supporting Seattle’s vibrant arts and cultural scene is a key value in David’s life and business. He serves on the steering committee for the Seattle Theatre Group’s Nights at the Neptune. He honored local musicians through his work producing and hosting the Inside/Out Jazz Awards. David received the American Spirit Award for his fundraising and relief efforts following Haiti’s 2010 earthquake. He holds a B.A. in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from Bethune-Cookman University in Florida.
How did you get started in this business?
In my earlier twenties I had a vision of owning my own club or bar. After a conversation with one of my supervisors from when I used to work at Frito Lay, I decided to take his attitude towards people my age that dream about owning a bar and use it as the starting fuel that I needed to make the dream I had a reality.
How does the social, economic, environmental, technological, legal and political environment in Seattle impact your business?
Because LUCID is a melting pot for all types of events we’re impacted in many ways. In this day and age, I believe that you really can't have one without the other. It’s important to be social.
Social and political: this is the name of the game, especially in a business where competition is fierce and there’s a spot on every corner offering similar products. To be social is to be relevant.
Economic: this is the blood and air, in a business where margins are tight, every penny counts, knowing how to pivot in an economy where people are tightening their purse straps is important.
- Technological: if you want to survive this is key! Learn it, master it!
Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years?
Hmm, good question. 12 months from now, I expect to see a more refined LUCID. I've always been a fan of LUCID being more than just a physical space and as of this summer we've taken that leap and have begun to offer the same craft services we have at LUCID to other people and businesses in their own space.
Our business model allows us to bring the things that we have at LUCID to you. Over the next 5 years I expect LUCID to be a household name. People will be using our products and services from the comfort of their homes.
What is your management / leadership style?
I believe in empowering the people that I work with. I have a very optimistic approach towards business. Which at times can be both good and bad. I’m in the process of raising funds to hire a full time arts facilitator that I believe will help position my self to be a better leader. Currently I wear many hats and as a business owner sometimes that is what is necessary to make it all come together. I would hope to be able to give a better answer to the leadership style in 6 months when we do a follow up.
What is the key revenue generator for your business?
Response: People and events. We’re an event space. By maximizing our visibility in the market we are able to stay relevant and available to those individuals that need our space. When the patrons are at LUCID we have various products that we offer that contribute to our revenue.
Cocktails - 80% of Revenue
Food - 15% of Revenue
- Misc. - 5% of Revenue
What is the key cost drivers for your business?
Our cost for the most part are pretty fixed. The taxes on liquor was a big hit to all of us in when WA state decided to privatize the liquor industry.
What are the imperatives for ensuring profitability and sustainability in your industry?
Staying relevant is key and allowing the business to grow with the change in times. Maximizing the various platforms that exist are necessary for growth. Pivoting is key for success.
What recommendations do you have for black business owners in Seattle?
Be more than just black. Stay connected, be flexible, stay consistent. I dont really think that race is a factor in this city with regards to success. Provide a great business and your reputation will spread. Take criticism as they come and make improvements where you can. Believe in your vision. And be honest with yourself.