When Irondale, Alabama-based Peak Season was founded by industry veterans in 2009, the outdoor furniture company approached the market with an eye to being different—in terms of products, operations and customer partnerships. Accessories joined the mix a few years later, expanding to the comprehensive current-day selection which includes customization and personalization options.
Peak Season opened at the height of the recession, formed as a smaller, nimbler operation underscored by the guiding principles of do it better, and do it right. The company’s mission to create inspiring, unique, handcrafted outdoor furniture led to the name of its specialty business, Inspired Visions.
The initial accessory collection, launched in 2011, consisted of only nine SKUs to “test it out”—an assortment of cast stone accent tables, pillows and lanterns that complemented existing furniture collections. The reasons were two-fold: filling a need for both practicality and versatility. On the practical side, the company shoots all its own photography, including lifestyle images. “We would buy accessories at retail (to accessorize the lifestyle shots) and then customers wanted to buy it,” explains Lauren Bryant, vice president of sales and marketing. “We realized there was a market there, and we could sell it.
“The hallmark of who we are is being versatile,” she continues. “Meaning our whole line from the start could be mixed and matched together, and having accessories really adds to that versatility. We’ve go en such a great response from our accessories line—it embodies who we are, and we found a niche.”
From that debut collection, the accessory assortment has expanded to include table and floor lamps, handwoven rugs, copper pedestals and bunching tables, pathway lighting and an extensive selection of pillows, available in both regular and premium fill.
“We’ve evolved into offering a robust selection at different price points,” says Bryant, “with some designs that can be used for a commercial application.”
Also in the mix are shelving units, poufs and upholstered ottomans, baskets, candles and cast stone planters and urns, finished with an acid wash and made to look like real limestone.
More recently, the company ventured into seasonal (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas) and customizable pillows. Those custom pillows are only available in select styles with a turnaround time of one-and-a-half to two weeks. Customers can opt to change the thread color on selected designs from a set palette, as the threads are made in-house. Certain styles also offer personalization choices, such as a family name, pet name or zip code.
“Our accessory pieces create a unique space,” Bryant says. “We believe our dealers value our versatility. They like the customizable pieces and seasonal looks and the variety we provide. They can style a combination of our accessories by the register or a display to create a cash-and-carry opportunity.”
The design department approaches the creation process the same way for accessories as furniture, beginning with a color palette that relates to the rest of the line and fabrics.
“It’s not an exact science, but we look at sales data, as well as trend and market intelligence that we gather throughout the year,” Bryant explains.
This involves gathering feedback from external and internal sales, consumer interactions, the brand’s interior design ambassadors and brick-and-mortar retailers, so the design team has the intelligence to move forward.
“Over the past year-and-a-half, our design ambassadors are starting with accessories to create the focal point, instead of furniture, and this is a great honor,” says Bryant.
In 2020, Peak Season launched the Be Inspired program for interior designers to gain new perspective and insight. Designers
are issued various design “challenges” and then provide feedback to the company. For example, one challenge involved asking participants to use the large-scale, luxurious Elite collection in a small space to maximize the versatility.
“They curate and pick pieces for a look or individual and then present a mood board that shows our product in diff erent ways,” says Bryant. “It allows us to look and be inspired and be fresh. We have always been a line that works well for the design trade, but we didn’t start in that direction, and we are looking to see how we can evolve in that area.”
The Be Inspired program is open to all designers with one caveat—you cannot be a current customer of Peak Season.
Among the highlights of the newest accessory collection are the Elements bunching tables, pedestals and pathway lighting. Hand-hammered, hand forged copper from Mexico is wrapped around an aluminum frame in these commercial-grade pieces.
Peak Season also introduced a Scandinavian-inspired rug collection from India. Reversible and easy to clean, the handwoven rugs are vat- versus solution-dyed for colorfastness and have a 25-year life expectancy. The company has also debuted real stone tabletops, like travertine, for the
very first time.
Additionally, Peak Season launched abrand-new, proprietary fuel for use in fire tables and their new Elements collection. Made from blue-green algae, Super Bio Fuel is safe and clean-burning and can be used indoors as well. While the fi re-burning designs feature a cover to protect the
flame, the flame will self-extinguish if it tips over for any reason.
The addition just furthers the company’s mission to enhance outdoor living. “We still think outdoor can be as beautiful and seamless and fun and comfortable as indoors,” Bryant says.
Tracy Bulla is a contributing editor for Designers Today. She may be reached at email@example.com