Business News – Casual Living Just another Furniture Today Sites site Thu, 07 Jul 2022 10:20:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Business News – Casual Living 32 32 Copy of What StyleRow said about furniture companies entering the U.S. market during Portugal Home Week Thu, 07 Jul 2022 10:20:46 +0000

PORTO, Portugal — Furniture companies focused on expanding their international presence have affordable digital options to grow their brand, according to StyleRow’s Jodie Ellis, chief revenue officer for the trade-only platform.

During the second edition of Portugal Home Week, Ellis joined other panelists onstage to talk about strategies for internationalization, including the often cost-prohibitive entry into the U.S. market.

“To enter a new market, brands can expect to spend $150,000 to $250,000 at minimum for the first year,” Ellis said. “Style Row is a software and industry tailored product that brings brands to designers’ desks.”

Ellis added that Style Row is currently working with 60,000 design professionals and 34 design firms. He noted that the company is working on an integrated payment system for its clients and also provides real-time analytics.

Pricing for the StyleRow platform features both free and premium levels. When compared with traditional marketing methods, the StyleRow platform allows smaller companies to gain access to more potential customers, according to Ellis.

“We can see when a designer is looking at a product, for how long, and which products are driving people into a digital showroom,” he explained. “Our clients have an online presence, 24/7, 365 days a year.”

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5 Interwoven trends that will shape the look of 2022 and beyond Mon, 16 May 2022 10:14:02 +0000

HIGH POINT — Textile manufacturers are gearing up for a packed house at the upcoming Interwoven show, the bi-annual International Textile Alliance tradeshow previously known as Showtime that will take place in High Point May 22-25.

“The show has an exciting new name, and based on appointments at our Regal and Kindred showrooms, we’re expecting full attendance, something we haven’t seen since before the pandemic,” said Anne Hood, Regal Fabrics merchandising director.

Regal Fabrics is launching six new collections including a lush new cotton print quality and a mix of low-cost body fabrics merchandised together with coordinating jacquards, prints, embroideries and velvets.

Chunky textures

After two years of limited travel and increased dependency on technology, there is a big world out there waiting to be explored, according to Milliken Textiles.

The company is introducing its new collection, re:Discover, at Interwoven. It features fabrics inspired by chunky textures that are designed to bring the adventures of the world home. The collection includes 202 SKUs of performance fabrics with a non-PFAS water repellent finish in 23 patterns.

“Consumers are increasingly experimenting with texture by pairing fabrics like flat weaves with bouclés to bring more dimension into a space,” said Greg Voorhis, Sunbrella’s executive design director. “We’re constantly expanding our yarn bank to incorporate new and innovative textures that encourage layering techniques like these, which are becoming more popular and can make a space feel dynamic.”

Sunbrella is also seeing a surge in plush ribbed fabrics and corduroy-type textures, an idea that’s emphasized in its Roving pattern, which has a very subtle stria in the ground, as well as the ribbed texture of its Burton pattern.

Sattler Outdura, a division of The Sattler Group, is presenting its new Virage collection at Interwoven that includes solution-dyed acrylic fabrics which are punctuated by four distinct fabric statements. Virage offers 176 jacquards, textured dobbies and stripe selections that are ideal for outdoors or in.

“The Outdura Virage collection communicates creativity, courage, success, individuality and the positive changes that we have all gone through the past couple of years,” said Mariia Elizarova, Sattler Corp. senior designer for the casual furniture division. “All four fabric statements have a wide array of base cloths and accent fabrics, offering designers, retailers and consumers diverse and well-coordinated color palettes and fabric groupings, yet also providing an opportunity to combine their selections to present their own unique personalized style.”

The four new fabric statements include: Be Bold, which plays with the contrasts of confident but calm colors with passionate and ambitious brick, gold and brown shades found in earth, fire and animal prints; Escape, which celebrates the neutrals and subtler colors found in nature, building on the idea of escaping from a modern technology-driven world to a restful, peaceful sanctuary; Digital, which is vibrant and optimistic, sparking energy and joy while communicating a positive meaningful message through bright colors and modern patterns; and Tranquil, which  offers modern, minimalistic yet refreshing color solutions inspired by motifs found in global waters from vast oceans to rivers and streams.

Revolution Mills/STI is debuting its largest launch in a long time between residential and outdoor product.

“We’ve developed our heaviest bouclé ever,” said Glen Read, Revolution Mills/STI signature designer. “We are continuing to blend the lines between outdoor and indoor. Looking ahead, we believe performance will be a checkmark with textures that can be by the swimming pool for years to come.

“We really have a nice synergy between outdoor and indoor that has expanded our yarn pallet and the offerings we have, which now include 300 SKUs and colors plus warps.”

Global patterns, natural influences

When it comes to a global influence, Covington is introducing a fresh combination of prints, wovens and embroideries inspired by a resurgence of artistic expression from various decades. The company also is offering a wide assortment of wovens and textures, with both multi-colored textures and sculptured chenilles.

Some key patterns include Wow, a digital print that was inspired by the retro “pop” style of the Memphis design movement from the 1980s; Flourish, a printed floral damask with a William Morris influence; and Bickleigh, a printed tonal design that can is comprised of 75% cotton and 25% linen which adds surface interest to the pattern’s sophistication.

“This season, Richloom’s Platinum collection takes inspiration from our collective desire to seek comfort and inspiration in nature,” said Sara Thomas, Richloom marketing director. “In the popular children’s book Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, a spoiled young orphan is sent to a manor house in the English countryside, where her discovery and revival of a secret garden sets in motion her transformation into a kind and compassionate, happy soul.”

Thomas said the novel that inspires the new collection offers a place of retreat and inspiration where creative seekers open quiet avenues to explore their art and reconnect with the natural world.

Ultrasuede is introducing a new geometric pattern that’s most often seen in cotton or wool fabrications.

The small-scale twill pattern in Ultrasuede HP is created with a dye print using rotary screens. Available in five colorways, the pattern is evocative of a classic “zig zag” textile weave used in the production of denim garments, suiting or the iconic wool overcoats produced in Scotland.

Sunbrella’s new Interwoven collection features a fresh palette with fabrics in earth tones and sunbaked colors which highlight modern graphic geos, artisanal and block-printing-inspired techniques, and updated interpretations of classic stripes.

At the center of this collection is Roving, a new chenille body cloth, and Ascher, which features a slub yarn and linen texture.

“Our design team seeks inspiration from around the world to create fabrics that go beyond trends and complement all design aesthetics,” said Sunbrella’s Voorhis. “In terms of color, we’re seeing continued preferences for earthy hues and sunbaked shades, as these bring feelings of warmth, familiarity and comfort to a space.

“From traditional botanical prints to updated stripes and block-printing-inspired motifs, our new collection was designed to include various jacquards in a similarly soft and dusty palette while still feeling fresh and contemporary.”

Environment in mind

Featuring a combination of recycled polyester, recycled acrylic and virgin acrylic, Sunbrella ReFlections by Richard Frinier, will be seen for the first time at Interwoven.

Sunbrella has also expanded its ReCycle fabric offering and will be introducing seven new patterns. Two of these seven, Lengthen and Improve, feature a new bouclé yarn. All of Sunbrella’s ReCycle fabrics contain at least 50% recycled polyester and include the company’s Assure non-PFAS technology.

With greens, corals, deep blues and soft neutrals, this collection incorporates a range of colors, textures and patterns that can be layered together to elevate any space, according to the company. As with all Sunbrella fabrics, these textiles are designed to perform and made with the environment in mind.

Culp’s new Earth collection showcases some of the company’s latest introductions of its recycled LiveSmart Evolve fabrics.

“The Earth collection is both elegant and refined, and it invokes the simplistic Scandinavian lifestyle and aesthetic,” according to the company. “The muted weathered tones of Earth, ensure a soothing environment filled with beautiful materials, natural finishes and pared-back design. Our sustainable product keeps furniture and home accessories looking and feeling beautiful while helping to divert plastics from landfills, oceans and waterways to create a more sustainable future for everyone.”

To date, the company’s Evolve fabrics have upcycled more than 86 million water bottles and counting.

Valdese Weavers will have eight new introductions from its environmentally friendly InsideOut Performance Fabrics + Seaqual Initiative collection centered around several sophisticated chenille and bouclé textures. This group also includes a classic cut-velvet effect stripe and a graphic mini chair-scale.

The company will also feature a new collection of 20 fabrics using yarns made from recycled T-shirts.

Performance qualities

Building upon the signature softness, performance capabilities, and industry-leading sustainable properties of its inaugural launch, Supreen’s new menswear-inspired patterns will debut at Interwoven and “offer a fresh yet decidedly classic upholstery option for commercial spaces from healthcare to hospitality alike”, according to the company.

The three new wool-inspired textures are reminiscent of houndstooth, heathered flannel and tweed men’s suiting, the patterns combine Supreen’s original, revolutionary liquid-barrier and stain-resistance with an element of luxury.

“Replicating the regal tones and classic textures often observed in the world of men’s fashion, the new Supreen patterns evoke a sense of warmth not often associated with performance fabrics,” said Debbye Lustig, Supreen ’s vice president of design.

“Like any fine suit, we designed these patterns with comfort and luxury in mind,” she added. “We wanted the new textures to do more than just feel good, and by pairing both neutral and bold colorways with the recognizable timelessness of the three wool-like patterns, we were able to achieve a balance of modern and traditional design, in a very subdued yet eye-catching manner.”

Neutrals staying strong

The new collection from American Leather being introduced this market is called Leather Symphony, which features a harmonious complexity of leathers.

“This season’s introductions embrace light finishes that celebrate the natural characteristics of the hides, featuring very elegant color palettes, cozy textures and the superb hand our leathers are known for,” said Luisa L. Delmaso, American Leather upholstery leather coordinator. “We created this magnificent array with the intention to fit all of our client’s needs, ranging from beautiful high end aniline leathers, specialty looks for accent frames and going all the way to economic options for high volume manufacturers that strive for quality.”

For its part, Ultrafabrics plans to debut Hush, a curated selection of 14 white and off-white fabrics that “express the full power of this calming and often overlooked neutral,” according to the company.

Hush introduces three new whites to the Lino, Impasto and Montage ranges, while celebrating collections like Brisa, Coast, Promessa and Ultraleather. The new lines balance visual appeal and comfort with flexible functionality, which is designed to take away the fear factor of using this pale shade.

Available solutions for the new fabrics include breathability, outdoor-specific attributes, and ink and stain protection.

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Cream of the crop: Apollo Award nominees rise to the top Mon, 13 Sep 2021 11:08:20 +0000

Recognizing retail excellence and outstanding accomplishments, the International Casual Furnishings Assn. presents this year’s best-in-class retailers, nominated by their industry peers for their savvy merchandising, strong operations and commitment to their customers. And all during a time of inventory issues and supply chain challenges.

Each finalist in this year’s group of nominees — made up of single-store operations and multi-store retailers —have proven to be role model for others in the industry, demonstrating there are many paths to achieving success.

American Casual Living: Creative, fun solutions

Lee and Maureen Recchia founded American Casual Living in January 2009.

The Buford, Ga.-based store’s friendly, knowledgeable sales staff combines over 100 years of experience in the outdoor furniture industry with thoughtful creativity and focused personal attention to help customers create comfortable, year-round outdoor living areas for family fun, entertaining friends or quiet enjoyment and relaxation.

An anchoring strength of the company is that the owners, too, are consumers. They seek value not only in everything they buy personally, but also in the products offered by American Casual Living.

The company strives to ensure customer visits are productive, satisfying and memorable experiences that are shared with families, friends, neighbors and anyone else they influence.

Key lines carried are Telescope Casual Furniture, Lloyd Flanders, O.W. Lee, Winston, Tropitone, NorthCape, Patio Renaissance, Gensun, Jensen Outdoor, Lane Venture, Ebel, Woodard, Berlin Gardens, Polywood, Treasure Garden, Frankford Umbrellas, Castelle, Alfresco Home, Lexington Home Brands and Saber Grills.

Fire House Casual Living: Delivering on promises

Fire House Casual Living Store is the largest outdoor furnishings retailer in the Carolinas with a vast selection of top-quality and specialty items for the patio and fireplace. Owner Grant Henegan acquired the almost-40-year-old business in 2016 with a focus on ambition and growth.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based business is known for its original thinkers, a group of design-savvy, energetic individuals who believe great companies are built with great people who can deliver on promises to customers, vendors and the team. As a true omnichannel operator, the company believes its competitive advantage is the combination of its physical locations and its highly skilled, design-driven sales associates.

The assortment features top brands, which are consistently featured in Architectural Digest, Luxe Interiors + Design, Elle Decor and other regional and national shelter magazines. Lines include Brown Jordan, Castelle, Woodard, Telescope Casual Furniture and Lloyd Flanders, as well as a proprietary brand with frames made to specification in Asia and upholstery produced at a partner factory in Fort Mill, S.C.

Gasper Home & Garden: Focused on best of best

Located in Richboro, Pa., in the heart of picturesque Bucks County, Gasper Home & Garden Showplace and the Exterior Furniture Gallery are dedicated to bringing the best of the best to homes and gardens everywhere. Founded in 1994 by Paula and Robert Gasper, the retailer features plants, garden décor and accessories, and a hardscape and landscape division in addition to a wide range of casual furnishings. With over 200 employees and staff, Gasper is large enough to provide for all its clients’ needs yet remains small enough to care.

The Exterior Furniture Gallery has seen remarkable and sustained growth since casual furniture veteran Eli Hymer joined the company in 2018. Hymer has built an environment second to none by teaming up with the best manufacturers and providing the best customer service with his team of knowledgeable staff members. Gasper also works in tandem with local design professionals through its designer incentive program.

Gasper Home & Garden Showplace has extended its outreach by creating the Gasper Furniture Book. Reaching an audience of nearly 200,000 homes, the publication is a showcase for the many outstanding manufacturers carried by Gasper. The retailer also includes an “Ask Eli” Q&A blog on its website and a social media video campaign featuring “Design Tips” as part of its outdoor furniture marketing efforts.

Gasper’s mix of brands includes Alfresco Home, Barlow Tyrie, Bernhardt Exteriors, Breezesta, Cabana Coast, California Umbrella, Castelle, Casual Cushion, Classic Cushion, DWL, Ebel, Elaine Smith, Frankford Umbrella, Gensun, Jensen Outdoor, Kingsley Bate, Klaussner Outdoor, Lane Venture, Lloyd Flanders, Neille Olsen Designs, Patio Renaissance, Peak Season, Seaside Casual, Telescope Casual Furniture, Three Coins Cast, Treasure Garden, Woodard and Woodline Shade Solutions.

Patios Plus: Delivering inspiration and joy

Rancho Mirage-based Patios Plus is located in the Southern California desert just outside of Palm Springs, a unique environment of second homes that exemplify the best of outdoor living. The area’s architecture ranges from mid-century, Spanish hacienda, to clean contemporary with high-end interiors. The 10,000-square-foot showroom is led by Kristine Schultz and Amanda Smith. Jim Schultz, an integral part of Patios Plus history, has been enjoying retirement since 2015.

Throughout the pandemic, the store’s philosophy regarding customer service and brand image did not change but rather stepped up. Adding inventory orders every week provided a strong amount of stock options. The team maintained ongoing communication with special-order clients as well as made daily floor changes to keep the store looking fresh with product from Brown Jordan, Dedon, Gloster, O.W. Lee, Barlow Tyrie, Kannoa, Patio Renaissance, Janus et Cie, Tropitone, Lloyd Flanders, Summer Classics, Treasure Garden, TUUCI, Big Green Egg and Elaine Smith.

Community support increased as Patios Plus got involved with FineFoodBank, a GoFundMe campaign created for local restaurant workers and several animal shelters seeing an influx of abandoned animals. The company also has long supported City of Hope as its charity of choice with the International Casual Furniture Assn., transforming the future of health for all.

At the height of the pandemic, when families were told to stay home and travel was not essential, home and patio spaces became even more essential. Through advertising and displays, Patios Plus offered clients inspiration for creating serene spaces and private vacation spots outside their back doors. Employees took pride in coming to work and bringing a little joy into lives fraught with anxiety and fear.

Porch & Patio Casual Living: Pride plus performance

Porch & Patio Casual Living was founded in 1978 by the Singman family as a manufacturer and retailer of PVC furniture. The business thrived for many years supplying specialty stores throughout the East Coast. As the casual furniture industry grew, Porch & Patio opened a large retail store for its own products along with other categories such as aluminum, iron, wood and wicker.

Today, Porch & Patio operates a 20,000-square-foot headquarters showroom in Warwick, R.I., plus a 7,500-square-foot satellite store in Mystic, Conn. The company takes pride in the quality products and exceptional customer service it provides to customers.

Lines carried by Porch & Patio Casual Living include Berlin Gardens, Breezesta, Cape May, Classic Cushion, Custom Craft, Daybreak, Ebel, Galtech, Gensun, Hanamint, Homecrest, Jensen Outdoor, Kettler, Kingsley Bate, KNF Design, Lloyd Flanders, Outdoor GreatRoom, Patio Renaissance, Polywood, Ratana, Royal Teak, Telescope Casual Furniture, Treasure Garden, TUUCI, Windward Design, Winston and Woodard as well as a wide variety of accessories.

Rich’s for the Home: Customers always come first

“Always put yourself in your customer’s shoes.”

That’s the philosophy Larry and Marianne Chapman have embraced since Dec. 7, 1979, when they opened a modest woodstove showroom near Seattle. The showroom grew quickly to a second and third location. In 1982, Rich’s for the Home added outdoor furniture as well as hot tubs and gourmet outdoor grills.

As the company expanded, the owners and their team put in long hours, providing excellent care to everyone. Today, Rich’s has over 100 employees and subcontractors, treating them as family. Many are second- and third-generation employees from the same families. Vendors also are treated as valued partners.

Based in Lynnwood, Wash., Rich’s for the Home now has six spacious Puget Sound showrooms, with over 50,000 square feet of luxury outdoor furnishings. Rich’s is a Northwest leader in offering products for the home that bring people together. Key lines include Tropitone, Ebel, Jensen Outdoor, Homecrest, Sunvilla, O.W. Lee, Telescope Casual Furniture, Treasure Garden, Gensun and Patio Renaissance.

Today’s Patio: Creating an exceptional experience

Today’s Patio was founded in 1979 and operates seven retail locations in Arizona and California.

Based in Scottsdale, Ariz., Today’s Patio focuses on creating an exceptional customer experience from the moment the customer walks in the door to the final delivery at their home. Today’s Patio focuses its product selection on a good, better, best model. The company strives to have a broad selection of upscale patio furniture that can fit many budgets while maintaining a high level of quality. Today’s Patio not only offers a large variety of patio furniture in aluminum, iron, wicker and teak but also can help create an entire outdoor living space with umbrellas, pillows, accessories and rugs to complete the space.

Principles are Chad, Henry and Craig Scheinerman.

Lines carried include Mallin, Tropitone, O.W. Lee, Ebel, Treasure Garden, TUUCI, Sunvilla, NorthCape, Brown Jordan, Castelle, Hanamint, Agio, Ratana, Woodard and Barlow Tyrie.

Village Green: Destination for ideas and inspiration

Village Green Home and Garden was established in 1964 by the late Larry Smith and Bill Swadley. Over the past 57 years, Village Green has evolved from a tiny and humble garden center to a destination outdoor lifestyle center. The nine-acre campus features the largest selection of outdoor furniture in the Midwest, an indoor furniture gallery and a holiday wonderland. The retailer proudly grows 70% of all plant material sold.

Located in Rockford, Ill., Village Green is committed to helping customers make the spaces in their home more beautiful. The goal is to inspire the customer to make their home the perfect expression of their own personality, both indoor and outdoor.

Village Green is owned by Carolyn and Cindy Smith, daughters of Larry Smith, and operated by Jessica Salisbury, CEO and creative director, along with a loyal and talented team. The company’s mission, it says, is to continue the great legacy of co-founder Larry Smith.

Brands carried include Tropitone, Winston, O.W. Lee, Patio Renaissance, Homecrest, Hanamint, West of the Wind, Polywood, Telescope Casual Furniture, Casual Cushion, NorthCape, Treasure Garden, Lloyd Flanders, Nardi and Breezesta.

Villa Terrazza Patio: Expert design guidance

Villa Terrazza Patio & Home was created by Michael Robertori and Theresa Deere in 2005. After a 15-year career in in information technology, Mike retired from the corporate world and started a warehouse-based teak furniture business. A few years later, Robertori met Deere and the two entrepreneurs combined their talents to open what has grown to become one of the San Francisco Bay’s premier outdoor specialty retailers.

Catering to an upscale residential and commercial clientele, Sonoma-based Villa Terrazza offers superior customer service and expert design guidance. A dedicated team of design professionals collaborate with clients to ensure the result lives up to the company’s tagline: “Furnishing Your Escape!”

Lines represented include TUUCI, O.W. Lee, Brown Jordan, Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens, Gloster, Lloyd Flanders, Tropitone, Summer Classics, Barlow Tyrie, Jensen Outdoor, Berlin Gardens, Mamagreen, Kingsley Bate, Les Jardins, Treasure Garden, Patio Renaissance, Regency Fireplace Products, Alfresco Grills, True Manufacturing, Loll Designs and Elaine Smith.

Watson’s: Selection, service and savings

Since 1968, Watson’s has grown a pool store in Cincinnati to the Midwest’s premier indoor/outdoor home lifestyle center, with indoor furnishings, outdoor furnishings, home recreation and pool and spa supplies all under one roof.

The brand now consists of 13 stores (including franchise and affiliate franchise locations) with over 500,000 square feet of selling space featuring leading vendors like Patio Renaissance, Plank & Hide, Lloyd Flanders, Castelle, Summer Classics, Tommy Bahama Outdoor and more.

The company’s mission is to bring families together for fun, relaxation and a break from the stress of daily life. The vision is to bring creativity to the recreational and leisure industry, providing leadership with cutting edge products, innovation and ideas along with world-class customer service and exceptional value.

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Copy of Looking for a more inclusive role for women in home furnishings industry Tue, 07 Sep 2021 13:03:50 +0000

HIGH POINT — With several women in senior leadership roles at various companies in the home furnishings industry, younger women just starting their careers today have role models and a new vision of what’s possible that weren’t available a generation ago.

But the panelists who spoke during the “A more inclusive role for women in home furnishings” segment during Bridgetower Media’s recent Empowerment conference also agreed that there is more room for growth and the role of diversity in the workforce needs to be discussed more often.

Moderated by Andrea Lillo, the managing editor for Designers Today and HFN, the panel included Laura Aldrich, executive vice president of licensing for Scott Brothers Global; Laurie Tokarz, president of Restonic; and Lorri Kelley, president of WithIt and founder of Lorri Kelley Advisors.

All three panelists have been in the home furnishings industry for most of their careers and say they’ve seen a great deal of change.

“When I started in this industry, the only women were at the reception desk,” Tokarz said. “When I shifted from being a buyer into sales, there were no women in sales. Management took a bit of a risk on me at that time but very much supported me.”

Tokarz said management treated her differently since she was a pioneer in the role. She feels that since women make many of the decisions about home purchases, having women in sales positions is more important than ever.

“Women often approach sales roles differently since they are relationship builders,” Kelley added. “At WithIt, we recently instituted a sales excellence award and made a big push to get women more involved in sales roles and really make a difference in the field.”

The panelists all agreed that companies need to make changes to keep women at work since data shows that more than 2 million women left the workforce during the pandemic.

“The main reason women leave is that they feel they are failing at everything: being at home, juggling work responsibilities and making sure they are ‘on’ at work. It’s become too much,” Aldrich said. “Companies need to provide resources to help working parents, provide flexibility in work hours and honor off hours on nights and weekends so employees can take time off.”

One of the other important things both women and men in the home furnishings industry can do is be a mentor to those who are just starting out.

“This is huge passion of mine,” said Kelley. “The idea of mentorship wasn’t well-defined years ago, but I had some amazing mentors who knew what made me tick and encouraged me to reach beyond what I thought I was capable of. I believe no matter how old you are you can benefit from having a mentor who can help you see things you can’t see.”

The challenge isn’t that women aren’t entering the home furnishings industry, according to the panelists; it’s that they aren’t promoted at the same rate as men, according to recent data.

“Only 38% of women are promoted to managerial positions, which means that 62% of those promoted are men,” said Aldrich. “Companies need to find a way to keep women inspired and engaged and show them what’s possible. I recommend that women join support groups like WithIt so they can network and find support and guidance.”

For smaller companies that may not have the option of being as diverse in employment, the panelists recommend being diverse in how customers are approached so that marketing and advertising isn’t off the mark.

“Companies need to make sure that they have a female that they can call and ask if a particular ad is one that she would respond to,” Tokarz said. “It’s important to be aware of how things are perceived by women and other minorities. Before you put an ad in a magazine, you need to find out if it’s offensive and make sure you‘re being diverse and welcoming in your brand personality.”

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Copy of Supporting activism and encouraging advocacy Tue, 07 Sep 2021 13:02:10 +0000

HIGH POINT — The second panel of the Empowered event, titled “Empowering your workforce as well as your customers,” tackled questions including how to support activism and encourage advocacy in the workplace, as well as how to convey those company values to your customers.

Alex Herring, senior editor of Gifts & Decorative Accessories, moderated the panel of professionals including: Veracelle Vega, chief people officer of Resident, a house of direct-to-consumer brands in the home goods space including Nectar, DreamCloud, Awara, Level Sleep, 1771 Living and Bundle; Jeffrey Kruskall, owner of a consulting and executive coaching business, previously the vice president of business development for the Meyer Corp.; Angelo Surmelis, owner of home décor and lifestyle company Angelo:Home; and Alison Phillips, chief of design and co-founder of Powered by People, a B2B wholesale platform that connects makers from 46 countries to buyers in North America.

The professionals each shared their personal reasons for feeling so passionate about the topic of diversity, equity and inclusion, ranging from feeling “out of place,” as Surmelis, a Greek immigrant and homosexual man, described, to entering the workforce and noticing the lack of diversity and feeling the need to make a change, as Kruskall, a homosexual and Jewish Boston native, explained.

DEI has shaped Vega and Phillips’ careers: Vega has dedicated her entire professional career to doing DEI work, as a daughter of Philippine immigrants, and Phillips has championed women in design and STEM, a typically male-dominated field.

Each of the panelists offered their unique perspective and personal experiences as minorities in the workplace, but one point was raised by all: In order for businesses to be successful in their goals of DEI, those at the top of the company need to be authentic, and their personal stories need to be shared.

Vega shared that when Resident started a DEI committee last year, the mission when was: How do we enact change? Rather than start with an agenda, members of the committee shared personal stories, which began to help shape the committee’s direction.

“(DEI) is about giving back, having community partnerships, having diversity-focused education, workforce diversity and metrics, wellness and mentorships,” Vega said.

In addition, Kruskall emphasized the need for being your authentic self to encourage the sharing of stories from your employees. At his previous company, he started a “learnings forum” to share and learn from each other. “It reduces retention, increases morale and fosters an open culture at work.”

He noted that sharing was, in fact, always optional and made that clear to his employees. “You want to have a cultural intelligence within your company because that takes away racism if people understand and learn about each other,” Kruskall said.

Surmelis’ company has its values of DEI clearly laid out on the front of its homepage at

When asked how he came to the decision of complete transparency, knowing that some might not like it, he said, “You do get retail partners who don’t want to work with you.” But ultimately, he and his partner wanted to have a company people loved, but also not shying away from uncomfortable issues.

“You’re not going to please all people all the time. So every day we ask ourselves, ‘What are we trying to say, and what is it we want to learn?’”

The goal for each of the panelists in sharing stories is to bring those of different backgrounds together to find a common ground, something Phillips’ company, Powered by People, knows a lot about.

In connecting and uplifting artisans from 46 countries, handcrafted goods (with a strong story about its origin) reach retailers in North America and benefit individual makers, which benefits their families and communities.

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Copy of First steps for DEI plan in the workplace Tue, 07 Sep 2021 13:01:30 +0000

HIGH POINT — Willingness to face uncomfortable truths and conversations, top-down leadership and asking critical questions are essential for companies getting started on addressing diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.

Those were key points emerging from the panel discussion “Creating a more diverse home furnishings workforce,” during BridgeTower Media’s recent Empowered online seminar moderated by Furniture Today Executive Editor Sheila Long O’Mara.

Panelists discussed how to recruit, hire and support a more diverse workforce; how small or family-owned businesses approach that; ensuring that sourcing and supplier partners match a company’s values; and what steps to take after creating a more diverse workforce to make sure everyone’s needs are met.

Sandra Beckett, chief human resources officer for Tamarac, Fla.-based City Furniture suggested “starting small” when developing a DEI program.

“Acknowledge the diverse work force you have in place, and start educating your organization,” she said. That helps create more comfort about conversations on diversity and gets companies started on leveraging diversity as a competitive advantage in bringing and retaining talent.

“We’re focusing (at City) on leaning in to those unsupported folks in the workplace (with) open, honest, sometimes uncomfortable conversations, and measuring our diversity against our cultural values.”

Communication is the key to getting started on DEI, agreed Dr. Ron Milon, chief diversity officer at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

“You have to have a critical conversation in your organization,” he said, one that includes not only employees, but also the people the company serves. Questions about cultural bias “help you start questioning your values and beliefs.”

“DEI requires us to unlearn what we’ve learned and ask critical questions,” Milon continued. “Being uncomfortable helps us grow” the way pain from a physical workout shows strength is building, and like going to the gym, DEI training “is ongoing.”

The first question to ask is, “Who are we, and what do we stand for?” said Miller Knoll Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Cheryl Kern. She said keep it simple at first.

“Pick one thing to focus on and do that well,” Kern said of initial steps toward DEI. “As (DEI) practitioners, it’s our responsibility to make this accessible” to decision makers and employees alike at the company versus getting bogged down in jargon.

The wide-ranging discussion also noted obstacles to building a DEI program.

First is “fear of the unknown and tilting the scale too far,” Kern said. “Second, there’s ignorance that’s still out there; then there’s flat-out resistance from people who just don’t want it. Our responsibility is to manage that.”

Beckett pointed out that customers could be resistant to DEI initiatives.

“It goes back to the value system of the company and taking a stand,” she said. “It goes back to education, and this has to include the customer. ‘Here are our values when it comes to how our employees are treated.’”

Milon said DEI demands a strategic plan that everyone buys into; if it’s an edict, expect more pushback.

“Have that conversation,” he said. “DEI starts from the top, but DEI is everyone’s (in the company) responsibility.”

Berry said it’s a good idea to create a “safe space” for employee groups who might be hesitant about speaking up.

“At City, LGBTQ tends to be underrepresented or have a quieter voice,” she said. “We tend to think about diversity being about how someone looks,” but it’s more than ethnic differences.

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Copy of Thought leaders offer valuable insights, action steps toward DEI Tue, 07 Sep 2021 13:00:18 +0000

HIGH PONT — The home furnishings industry began a discussion on the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and what that means for companies, their employees and their customers in BridgeTower Media’s inaugural Empowered event. The afternoon was bookended with two articulate and passionate thought leaders: KeyAnna Schmiedl, Wayfair global head of culture and inclusion, and Rosa Nuñez, director of diversity, equity and inclusion for Foley Hoag law firm.

Underscoring that it is a big topic to grapple with, Schmiedl kicked off the afternoon talking about what DEI means and how to train senior leaders to be advocates for a culture of learning and inclusivity. She noted that to start that conversation, we need to understand that diversity is “a wheel with many dimensions represented.”

“It’s not all-races-except or all-genders-except; it’s about everyone and including everyone,” she said.

From there, Schmiedl suggested that companies that want to develop their DEI program need to go from a careful conversation to a thoughtful one, with people authentically participating in the conversations. “They will be thoughtful and sometimes wrong, but that’s okay. It’s important to be in the conversation,” she said, “and to move into the space of authenticity.”

Part of that authenticity, Schmiedl said, is to move from an intention to be respectful and caring of others to actually evaluating word and actions and the way we impact others with them.

As an example, she talked about Wayfair’s principle of respecting others. “When there is an opportunity to share feedback, people get defensive and start explaining intent,” Schmiedl said, adding, “Instead, say that wasn’t my intention but I’m hearing how that landed with you … can you tell me how I could have handled that better?”

To implement a DEI program, she said it important to be clear on providing tools and guidelines and then helping every manager and employee to access and use them. These tools can then help managers as they are recruiting new employees and dealing with instances of resistance within the organization.

A big part of managing and implementing DEI programs comes down to communication and finding ways to be constructive and honest. Some of these conversations are challenging, Schmiedl acknowledged, but she said the key is to be honest about what you want to accomplish in the conversation.

“Figure out the balance of direct and indirect that will allow you to find solutions that work,” she said, suggesting the use of phrases such as “Can you just bring me to what is so fraught in this moment?” or “Let me repeat what I think you said” as a way to add clarity and understanding.

At the end of the afternoon event, Nuñez reflected on the discussions throughout the afternoon and the actionable steps home furnishings businesses can take.

“First, you can’t start to drive a corporate strategy without commitment from the top. Leadership needs to be engaged and aligned,” Nuñez said. “And reasons have to be authentic because the people working for you really know when you are walking the walk and talking the talk.”

She also noted that DEI requires the necessary allocation of resources, whether it is a line item on the budget or someone within the company who has a passion for it.

After that, she listed some steps that start the process of making a change:

  1. Understand why you want to do this. “Do soul-searching as an organization.”
  2. Understand how ready you are and what to expect. Nuñez referenced Schmiedl’s comments about having “honest curiosity.”
  3. Identify your priorities and where you want to go. “Be pragmatic,” she said.
  4. Start small with what you have and build sustainable efforts.

Throughout the process, Nuñez said, communication is key. “Communicate to your people that we are embarking on this journey together. We are not perfect; we’ll make mistakes along the way.”

But keep trying. “It’s like a Lego set,” she said. “You build the program one Lego at a time and eventually you can look back and say, ‘See what we’ve done.’”

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AICO’s Reilly announces retirement Thu, 15 Jul 2021 17:09:07 +0000

PICO RIVERA, Calif. — Industry veteran, Chuck Reilly, executive vice president of AICO announced today that he will be leaving the furniture industry to spend more time with his family and relocating to Reno, Nevada, where he and his wife Susie own a home.  Reilly will stay on through the month of October and attend the October High Point Market. 

Reilly started his career in the furniture industry as a buyer for JCPenney in 1981 based out of the Los Angeles Buying Office.  In 1982 Reilly moved to Chicago to work as a national accounts manager for Lane Furniture and eventually had sales territories in Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey.  In 1994 Reilly moved to the Lane corporate headquarters in Virginia and held a variety of sales management roles.   

Reilly became a vice president of sales of the Western Region for Lane Venture based out of Southern California in 2000. In 2008, facing a changing corporate structure at Furniture Brands, Reilly left the company after a 27-year career and became the executive vice president of Lifestyle Solutions based in San Jose, California.   

Reilly’s final stop came 12 years ago when he went to work for Michael Amini at AICO. 

“I have always felt that when you find good people, you should hire them,” AICO CEO Michael Amini said. “When I met Chuck, it was clear he would be a good fit in our organization, regardless of if we had an opening at the time, I was going to hire him”.  

AICO President Martin Ploy added; “Chuck and I had the opportunity to work in the world of National Accounts more than 30 years ago, attending the same presentations to companies like JCPenney.  He has played an important role as a leader at AICO, and his dedication to City of Hope, as our industry Chairman, has been a source of pride for me personally”.   

“I will always have a special place in my heart for this industry,” Reilly said.  “I have been blessed to learn from great leaders and I leave at a time when our industry is finally experiencing a period when furnishing one’s home is a priority over other expenditures.  While there are challenges ahead for all industries in supply chain, the home is still where we make our dreams come true.  I am grateful to Michael for seeing in me a passion for this industry and the opportunity to share our friendship these past 12 years”. 

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Houzz Home Survey: Home renovation spending on the rise Tue, 06 Jul 2021 15:02:49 +0000

PALO ALTO, Calif. — In its 10th annual Houzz & Home survey, Houzz found that home renovation has grown 15% in the past year, with kitchens, outdoor spaces, home offices and technology getting the most attention.

And the increase in renovation is only expected to continue, with 56% of the homeowners surveyed planning some type of renovation project in 2021, the highest percentage since 2017 at 52%.

In 2020, the survey shows that the median home renovation spend was $15,000, and higher budget projects saw an increase from $80,000 per project in 2018 and 2019 to $85,000 last year.

“While the pandemic caused initial concern for the residential renovation industry, many homeowners finally had the time and financial means to move forward with long awaited projects in the past year,” said Marine Sargsyan, Houzz senior economist. “This pent up demand, along with other long-standing market fundamentals such as accumulated equity, will empower homeowners to continue investing in their current homes rather than face skyrocketing prices in the housing market.”

The reasons for the increase in home renovation are varied: 44% said they finally had time for the project; 36% said they finally have the financial means; 25% decided to renovate rather than move; and 18% said they remodeled to adapt to a recent change in lifestyle.

While Baby Boomers have historically been the leader in both renovation activity and spend, Gen Xers narrowed the gap in 2020. Last year, Baby Boomers (52% of renovating homeowners, down from 55% in 2019) spent a median $15,000, while Gen Xers (32% of renovating homeowners, up from 30% the previous year) increased their spend by $2,000 to a median $14,000.

Millennials, who continue to represent 12% of renovating homeowners, remained unchanged at a median of $10,000 per project.

Where were the renovations?

  • While interior room remodels remain the most common projects (68%), outdoor areas continue to increase in popularity, up to 57% in 2020. The most popular projects included landscaping and upgrades to decks, porches or balconies.
  • Homeowners also stepped up their remodeling investment in smaller areas of the home that may have once been considered a luxury and are now a necessity. Demand for home office projects increased by four percentage points to 14% of the projects and spending on those projects increased by 10% in 2020, to a media of $1,100.
  • Smart home technology continues to gain popularity, with items such as streaming-media players and TVs seeing the greatest increases. However, a larger share of renovating homeowners opted for smart products for their outdoor spaces, with 19% choosing security cameras, 7% adding light fixtures and 3% adding speakers or sound systems.
  • 87% of those surveyed hired professional help for their renovation projects in 2020, often engaging more than one professional per projects. While specialty service providers were the most common (49%), construction (36%) and design-related professionals (18%) were important as well.

And where were homeowners spending the most? San Jose, Calif., leads the list of top 10 metropolitan areas with the highest median spend on renovations in 2020 ($30,000), maintaining top position since 2017. Homeowners in California and Florida — San Francisco ($21,250), Los Angeles ($20,500), San Diego ($20,000) and Miami ($20,000) — made up the list of top five metro areas by renovation spend in 2020.

About the survey

The 2021 study includes more than 70,000 respondents in the U.S. alone, providing insights into the home improvement activity of the millions of users of the Houzz site and mobile apps.

The Houzz & Home Survey was sent to registered users of Houzz and fielded April-May 2021.

The full report is available here.

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Casual furniture producers weigh options for handling higher costs Tue, 06 Jul 2021 14:54:09 +0000

By Marc Barnes, Special to Casual Living

In the outdoor furnishings space, both demand and costs are going up at the same time, leaving many producers and importers with a good-news, bad-news dilemma.

Absorb the increased costs and risk a lower margin? Pass along increased costs and risk lower demand? Make concrete plans to ride out the storm and rely on the remedy of wait-and-see, along with a dose of cautious optimism, until a solution finds its way into the marketplace?

The cost of materials, shipping, the lack of available containers, are all having an effect on costing structures just now.

Some producers pointed to how it’s been discussed in the trades for the past few months, at the exact time that outdoor furniture is starting out its sales season.  Some believe there is no short-term solution and none on the immediate horizon.
But others have found a number of possible solutions that are being considered, are underway or have been substantially completed.

All do agree on the extent of the problem, as William Kruzel, business development partner at Mamagreen, describes it: “Our container costs have doubled bringing freight from anywhere in the Pacific to the East Coast of the U.S. Our increase for foam is 30%.”

He added that fabric is up by 7.5%, even though the supplier is unable to ship anything within a reasonable time. Hardware, screws, nuts and bolts all cost more and are in short supply.

“We froze pricing for the 2020-2021 period, but we are forced to have an increase for 2021-2022,” said Kruzel.

At Summer Classics, founder Bew White said that as time has gone on, he has passed along price increases as much as possible but with a caveat.

“Because we keep substantial inventory, we’ve been able to not have increases for several months after our increases from suppliers happen,” said White. “If you remember a couple of years ago, we had the tariffs come into place, and we delayed that for over a year. Right now, things are in such flux that our next price increase will be when our new price list and product comes out in July.”

White said the increases will be in the 3% to 7% range.

“We realize that is not a very pleasant topic for either dealers or manufacturers,” he said. “Unfortunately, between the tariffs and cost increases on raw materials and freight increases on both containers and on domestic freight, we are faced with substantial headwinds on pricing. While we hate to pass this on, price increases look like they will be coming at us for the next 12 months.”

And White has some advice for retailers.

“Back in the 1970s, we were in an incredible inflation situation and lead times moved out to 24 months,” he said. “While that seems almost impossible now, it was reality then, and supply was on allocation at the time, like we are currently experiencing on some fabric and foam.

“Hopefully, we don’t get into a position like that, but it’s possible,” White continued. “We suggest dealers keep inventory on hand. The idea that you can buy hand to mouth in a market like this is not realistic.”

At Barlow Tyrie, Executive Vice President Charles Hessler said that his company is holding the line, for now.
“We are absorbing the increase in our inbound container costs,” he said. “Our main factory is in Indonesia and container prices have more than doubled for us. That’s if you can even get an empty delivered when you require it.”

Hessler said that his company usually revises its selling prices in September, and he does not anticipate any changes until then.

“However, we will have increases across the board due to shipping costs and raw material costs,” he said. “Even cardboard sheet for product cartons have had sizeable increases. Exactly how much of an increase we will take is not yet decided. If we are able to absorb some of it, we will, but the bulk will be passed on to our dealers.”

Perry Solomon, senior vice president of residential sales for Woodard Furniture, said that, for dealers, knowledge is key.

“Woodard has experienced significant increases in both the cost of materials as well as ocean freight on component parts,” said Solomon. “As a result, we have no other option other than to announce an increase in excess of 5%.”

Solomon said that while most of his competitors have announced surcharges, Woodard is announcing and printing its 2022 prices effective early and in hopes that the prices will carry over into next year.

“No one likes a price increase, but we feel that this is a much more workable solution as our dealers will have a printed MSRP reflecting the new pricing which they can then show their customers,” said Solomon.

At Sunset West, owner Wes Stewart said that the topic of price increases is one often discussed regarding what manufacturers are facing, the strain it puts on retailers and the challenges that occur when the increases are passed along to retail clients.
“I think the consensus among peers is the current environment we find ourselves in is one of surge pricing,” he said. “I wish that we as an industry were as sophisticated as Uber or Lyft and had pricing models that could be updated real time with increasing costs factored in, but alas, we just sell furniture.”

Furniture’s not alone, however, as the cost of most consumer goods is also going up.

“I believe the largest component of our situation was taught in my freshman economics course and is simply the relationship between supply, demand and price,” said Stewart. “The greater the demand, along with a relatively fixed supply, results in a higher price of the good or service.”

The challenge is that, today, steamship lines are in a position to raise prices indefinitely as capacity continues to be extremely tight, he noted. This presents a tremendous problem with sales already booked at agreed upon prices and assumed margin, only to be fulfilled at a higher cost of freight to both the manufacturer and retailer.

In addition, foam is in short supply and the pricing increase was higher than anticipated, as it increased 30% virtually overnight, although it appears that increased capacity is on the horizon, with some relief in sight.

“As a company, we have honored pricing on all previously booked business regardless of our changing cost structure, as I do not believe that it is appropriate to raise the price of goods on already accepted orders,” said Stewart. “As a result of the increased costs, we have had to print an additional price list this year.”

Other changes have included Sunset West pulling back from any margin-eroding events such as planned promotional periods and trade show discounts.

“Fortunately, consumer demand is high and has proven to be relatively inelastic with regards to the increased prices,” said Stewart. “Ultimately, we cannot simply absorb unlimited and ongoing price increases. We are monitoring our costs closely, and I hope to continue selling this season at our current prices, but I feel that we are at the mercy of that freshman economics lesson of supply and demand.”

Benjamin Ma, vice president of Treasure Garden, said that the outdoor industry as a whole was hit hard.
“Our industry as a whole experienced an explosion in business as the consumer demand of outdoor products was at some of the highest levels we’ve ever seen,” said Ma. “The pandemic, along with the challenges and demand that it came with, weighed heavily on us and the dealers. It resulted in material shortages, combined with further increases in shipping, production, labor and raw material costs beyond the past few years.”

He said that it remains a priority to do whatever possible for the dealer base, even during challenging business cycles.

“While absorbing the great majority of these untimely cost increases as best we could, these obstacles put pressure on all aspects of production, which necessitated a small cost increase in the form of a surcharge to the dealers,” said Ma. “This surcharge does not cover the ever-rising costs; however, we are mindful of any cost change implications in the middle of the selling season, and we have tried to minimize that impact.”

He added that Treasure Garden remains committed to find a solution that works well for everyone.
“We will continue to try and absorb as much as we can going into the 2022 season,” said Ma. “Our goal is to continue to adapt and improve on all areas of our business, while continuing to provide the most comprehensive selection of quality products at the best possible pricing.”

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