Hotty Toddy Homecoming

Creating hospitable promotions inspires customer loyalty

From an early age, Douglas Self knew he had a creative and an analytical mind. Oxford, Miss., nourished both. He earned a degree in accounting from the University of Mississippi and got his start in retail working for Oxford Floral during his college years.

“Oxford Floral was one of the premier gift shops in Mississippi and I learned as much from owners, Bette and Jeff Butler, as I did my general education. Together, it was an incredible base for my career,” says Self, owner of jdouglas, with showrooms in AmericasMart and High Point.

Loving to put collections together and to be in front of customers, Self had long thought of opening a retail store. “Visiting Oxford for SEC game weekends, I realized I had to carry all my tailgating and dinner party supplies with me. There was a void in the market,” he says.

He opened Provision Oxford in October 2014, near the historic downtown square. The lifestyle boutique features his personal blend of home furnishings, tabletop, gifts, personal care items, jewelry, some ladies apparel, and original art. “It’s a gracious, hospitable place to see and buy beautiful things. But it’s more than great lines. We strive to offer an extraordinary experience, to treat customers as if they were visiting our home for a party,” he says.

Building Loyalty
The name says it all. “Provision means to provide things not readily accessible, and I wanted to give back to this university and community,” says Self. The shop helps residents and weekend-condo owners furnish their homes, buy gifts, or entertain with style, but Self also hosts Fridays This Fall events during home football weekends.

“We showcase Southern artisans or designers (preferably someone with a Mississippi or Ole Miss connection) and invite guests to attend a lecture, trunk show, or book signing,” he says. Last year, the store brought jewelry artists Elizabeth Wise Hannon, Gresham Hodges and Taylor Miller; floral expert and author, John Grady Burns; Mississippi born painter, Marilyn Mulherin; Ole Miss alumnus and Editor-in-Chief of Veranda magazine, Clinton R. Smith and author/designer James Farmer to town.

“We support a charity with each event by donating about 10 percent of the proceeds,” he says. In the past Provision Oxford has contributed to Peyton’s House (a youth ministry); Love Packs, Chucky Mullins Fund, Alexa’s Team (childhood cancer) and the St. Jude marathon.

Giving Back
The events help artists and charities, engage customers and increase sales. “People want to know who is coming, and we let them know by social media and e-mail,” he says. “This is a cultural town and people look forward to learning about and meeting talented artists. It gives them another activity to share with guests on football weekends.”
He also hosts special brunches or cocktail parties in the store for local sororities and fraternities during their parent weekends, allowing the group to choose their charity. A recent Derby Days event made more student customers aware of the shop, and they, of course, told their parents. “It’s the extra things you do to cultivate a business and build a brand that makes people want to work with you,” says Self. “You have to create the right environment.”

For additional information about the store, visit www.provisionoxford.com or like the store on Facebook.

To learn how to boost sales surrounding seasonal events and holidays, attend our upcoming Lunch Seminar: Spring Into Sales on Wednesday, March 8, during the Atlanta Spring Gift, Home Furnishings & Holiday Market®. Join flower magazine founder and editor-in-chief Margot Shaw and retail and merchandising experts Kristin Alber of Restylesource, Dina Woodruff of Peridot, and Pacita Wilson of Pineapple Park as they share visual merchandising tips, product picks and seasonal tabletop displays that are sure to inspire and make your sales bloom. Complimentary lunch is included and begins at 11:30 a.m. in the Building 1, Floor 15, Designer Workspace.

Images courtesy of Joe Worthem

Ins and Outs

Outdoor living fabrics find a home inside too

Savvy buyers and designers are more excited than ever about the possibilities technological innovation in fabrics brings to products and design. A new crop of fabrics are so advanced, the possibilities extend far beyond outdoor cushions.

Even industry insiders can have a tough time distinguishing “outdoor” fabric from interior upholstery. Now it’s time to teach consumers what that can mean for them. For buyers, the education starts at AmericasMart, where a number of top vendors sell product in which the outdoor fabric is a big attraction.

lloydflanders

Lloyd Flanders Industries

Characteristics That Matter Lou Rosebrock, senior vice president Sales and Marketing at Lloyd Flanders, suggests buyers should lean heavily toward the most established brands, which includes Sunbrella, Al Fresco and Outdura. “These brands have been produced to offer outdoor customers all the important characteristics, such as durability, light fastness and resistance to mold and mildew,” he says.

Not every fabric marketed as outdoor-safe actually has those characteristics. Susan Ray of Summer Classics says UV protection is particularly crucial. All of its outdoor upholstery is UV-treated Sunbrella fabric. “Sunlight can be so damaging,” says Ray. “But with UV-resistant fabrics, you can put a navy sofa under a window and it doesn’t fade.”

castelle2

Castelle

Steve Lowsky, president and CEO of Pride Family Brands, Inc., says there are other performance features buyers should ask about. “Outdoor furniture buyers need to look for durability, stain resistance, abrasion resistance and colorfast qualities,” says Lowsky, whose company produces Castelle outdoor furniture. “Buyers and designers also should take into consideration the depth of original designs and original textures and weaves available to meet the needs of their clientele.”

Learn the Lingo
Gather as much technical information as possible, because much of it can be used to sell customers on a piece or collection of outdoor furniture and accessories. Lowsky suggests asking vendors about the construction of the fabrics, including what type of fiber used. It could be  acrylic, polyester, olefin or polypropylene. He also recommends asking about colorfast hours or abrasion rubs, two characteristics that speak to durability.

summer-classics

Summer Classics

“Knowledge of the differing types of performance fabrics will allow the buyer to design the total furnishing piece or set to meet the requirements of the client’s outdoor space or use plan,” says Lowsky.

Even the terminology, says Rosebrock, can be a useful selling tool. “Many manufacturers that have created fabrics for outdoor use are now marketing their products as ‘performance’ fabrics,” he says. “Any consumer who selects this type of fabric for a high-use area can expect a durable, easily cleaned product.” In fact, homeowners with small children and those with pets are a growing market for furniture with outdoor or “performance” fabrics.

“Outdoor or performance fabrics are perfect for inside,” says Rosebrock. “The durability and cleanability can greatly extend the life of indoor upholstery. And outdoor fabric manufacturers now offer patterns, textures and color palettes in many sophisticated choices.”

lloydflanders2

Lloyd Flanders Industries

“The tremendous growth in designs, colors, hand or woven styles allow for exterior fabrics to coordinate with interior décor as easily as interior focused textiles,” Lowsky adds.

Bottom line: outdoor fabrics are so soft and fashion-forward now that guests won’t have a clue it could withstand sun and rain. As long as you’ve properly educated your customers on the performance and durability, that can be your little secret.


For more information: Castelle – castelleluxury.com; Lloyd Flanders – lloydflanders.com; and Summer Classicssummerclassics.com

Images courtesy of Pride Family Brands, Lloyd Flanders and Summer Classics.

Purchasing with a Purpose

AmericasMart buyers can take good work to heart
By Mandy Roth

Today’s consumers expect more from the companies they buy from and the products they use in their homes. They desire attributes beyond function and beauty; they want to make the world a better place by purchasing products with a purpose. Many AmericasMart exhibitors include philanthropy as a major tenet of their businesses, offering end consumers an opportunity to contribute to a greater good.

Half United; Full Commitment
Half United founders Carmin Black and her brother Christian didn’t set out to better the world through their professional lives. Yet that is exactly the path they now navigate. Each purchase of one of their company’s apparel items or accessories provides food to hungry children. To date, their customers have made possible more than 200,000 meals for children in the United States and around the world.

“Everything we’ve been through in life led us to this point,” says Carmin, a former television reporter, who later worked as a public speaker for TOMS—the company that set new standards in corporate philanthropy by donating a pair of shoes to needy kids for each pair purchased.

All elements of her past coalesced during an enthusiastic speaking appearance. She recalled memories growing up as a pastor’s daughter in a family where every male member was in the clergy, as well as her mother’s endeavors in the fashion industry. She remembered the mission trips in which she and her brother participated. She was reminded of her service as her sorority’s philanthropic chairperson. The energy created by the combination of charity, business and brand passion fused for her in front of that audience. It was one of those moments that changed everything that happened next.

She placed a call to Christian, who was in L.A. trying to launch an apparel business, suggesting that they join forces to create a company with a charitable focus. They borrowed $200 from their mother and the venture has grown in the years since. They now sell a variety of goods, including jewelry and T-shirts. Some of their most popular items feature recycled bullet casings, turning a symbol of harm into a sign of hope, representing their fight against hunger.

TOMS, Carmin believes, cracked the code that unites business and philanthropy by communicating the impact each consumer has on the world by buying one of their products. For Half United, that unique formula means that each time a product is purchased, seven children receive meals. “Hunger is something every human can relate to,” says Carmin.

The founders closely vet the charities they work with around the world. On a trip to Haiti, for instance, they examined the operations of Papillion Enterprise, an organization that employs local artisans to make some of the jewelry Half United sells, providing a source of income so impoverished parents can feed their children.

Carmin insisted on accompanying one of the workers home, a journey down dirt roads and over a ravine filled with trash and goats. They eventually entered a shantytown, navigating four-foot wide alleys through the shacks. When they arrived at the worker’s home, the mother shifted a plywood door to the side, proudly showing off her kitchen, featuring charcoal on a dirt floor. “Where do you sleep?” queried the entrepreneur. The woman revealed a second room where her children slept on packing materials—the same ones used by the charitable organization to ship jewelry to Half United. “My heart hurt for them,” says Carmin, who purchased proper mattresses for the family before leaving the country.

While Carmin and her brother are literally in the trenches at times, she points out that the retailers who sell Half United’s products—and the consumers who buy them—are the ones making the difference. “You have no idea how much your purchase matters in the lives of people around the world. Ultimately, you are the ones feeding people; we just facilitate that transaction.”

Sari Bari: Rescue From the Red Light
When secondhand saris gain new life as accessories and home goods, the women in India who make these products secure access to freedom from lives in the sex trade. The extraordinary goods available through Sari Bari offer employment opportunities for women who want to escape the red light district of Kolkata, India, as well as young women in outlying villages, who are vulnerable to being trafficked.

Each blanket, handbag, accessory or baby item is sewn using the traditional Kantha stitch, unique to the creator’s personal style. No two pieces are identical. Living in India, Sari Bari founder Sarah Lance established the company a decade ago when she personally witnessed the plight of these women and determined she would do something to make a difference in their lives. Goods are sold in the U.S. through a non-profit organization.

Today’s consumers are interested in one-of-a-kind products and want to know the stories behind the things they purchase, explains Merilee Rowe, the company’s sales and operations manager. Sari Bari deepens that connection because the 120 women the company employs stitch their names inside the items they create. During their first year of training, they are known generically as “Mukti.” After the first year, each graduates to using her own name. Their “freedom birthday” is celebrated annually, and employees are given opportunities to rise into management, providing further opportunities for a better life.

“Sari Bari products are special because retailers and consumers know the products are directly tied to impacting a women on the other side of the world,” says Merilee. “That artisan is creating something beautiful, and you are empowering her to do that by purchasing her product.”

Imagine Home: Third World Artisans; First World Designs
When interior designer Staci Lantz toured South Africa with the founder of TOMS Shoes in 2007, she was inspired by his company’s commitment to social responsibility. She returned with a new plan for her life, an idea to add a greater sense of purpose to her profession and an approach to American consumerism that would contribute to the betterment of others.

She’s spent her time since touring the world, meeting artisans in communities where she could source creations conceived by her, along with her design partners. The result is Imagine Home, a collaborative effort between third-world artisans and first-world designers.

The company takes first world product designs and commissions impoverished people in artisan communities around the world to handcraft the items. “By using our industry experience in design, we create a product that is desirable to consumers; by commissioning people in need, we create an income-generating opportunity for them,” according to Imagine Home’s website. The 2016 collection includes lighting, rugs, tabletop, upholstery and bedding from Haiti, Peru, Africa and India. Many items feature 100 percent organic and recycled materials. Also in the line-up: hand-knitted baby alpaca bedding and handsome horn and bone products.

“Staci has spent time in each of the communities we work with, as well as with each artisan, developing the product with them,” says Katie Gable, Imagine Home’s showroom manager at AmericasMart. “Instead of purchasing a product that is mass produced, each item we offer is individually created by someone’s hand. The buyer may never meet the artisan, but there is a connection back to them and you are contributing to the economy in their communities across the world.”

Stephen Joseph: A Connection with Kids
When Rick Taylor, president of Stephen Joseph, returns home each evening, he has a wonderful reminder of the good things his company is doing in the world. His daughter was adopted from a Russian orphanage that his business supports through its philanthropic efforts.

Giving back is something this company takes seriously. Established 30 years ago as a sorority products specialist, it grew and diversified over time into a variety of businesses. Stephen Joseph is the parent company, as well as the name of its successful kids lifestyle brand. In 2013, executives decided to bolster the business’ charitable endeavors, and sought to support organizations that focused on kids. One recent initiative raised $250,000 from the sale of certain products, with donations contributed to No Kid Hungry, Children’s Scholarship Fund and Little Kids Rock.

Stephen Joseph

Stephen Joseph

Karma, the company’s lifestyle brand, which features popular handbags, accessories, home and travel products, gives five percent of its gross sales to numerous charities, including the Russian orphanage. Other endeavors include providing filtered water in Nepal; paying teacher’s salaries a school in a poverty stricken area of Cambodia; and supporting Food Backpacks for Kids, which provides weekend food to kids in need. In addition to special projects, the company makes ongoing donations to organizations such as the American Diabetes Association.

“Given the choice between two similar products, if one has a ‘give back’ component, it affects the end-consumer’s buying habits,” says Rick. “It’s a selling point for buyers to communicate information about where a portion of consumers’ money is going.” While the executive is enthusiastic about all the charities his company supports, the ones that tug at his heartstrings are focused on children. “We love kids,” he says. “They don’t have the ability to help themselves, so we are passionate about helping them.”


For more information: Imagine Home; Half United – halfunited.com; Sari Bari – saribari.com; and Stephen Joseph – stephenjosephgifts.com

Images courtesy of Stephen Joseph, Sari Bari and Half United

Pearl Glam

A fresh perspective on a classic accessory
By Poormina Apte

Accessory Drawer

Accessory Drawer

You can credit Chanel or Jason Wu. Or Downton Abbey. Whatever the reason, pearls are enjoying a renewed interest and dominating lookbooks and fashion runways. But these aren’t your grandmother’s staid single strands. Mixed with a variety of other jewels and worked onto unexpected canvases such as leather and metals, pearls are being reimagined for the contemporary woman.

While this is good news for fashionistas everywhere, the expansive variety of pearls means retailers need to know what to look for and how to tell real from faux, with both having favor. We dive into the basics.

The Basics
Naturally occurring pearls are increasingly rare. Most of those on the market are cultured pearls, derived when farmers artificially introduce irritants into oysters and mollusks. Cultured pearls are further subdivided by the types of waters in which they sourced: saltwater or the more common freshwater. Pearls also are classified by the regions in which they are cultured. Examples include Akoya pearls from Japan; South Sea grown in large saltwater tropical oysters; and Tahitian pearls.

Then there are glass beads that are polished and coated to look like pearls. This thin coating eventually wears off so retailers are advised to source their pearls from reputable vendors. The Cultured Pearl Association of America recommends sliding the strand across your mouth as a test, fake pearls glide while the real ones are gritty from the nacre or the irritant around which the pearl forms.

The Criteria

Kinzig Design Home

Kinzig Design Home

Traditionally, best pearls are perfectly round, have a high lustre and are free of imperfections. Of various factors used to evaluate pearls, lustre is the most important according to Susie Kinzig of Kinzig Design who has ventured into creating jewelry.

Other criteria include surface, shape, size and color. While freshwater pearls often come in irregular forms, they are creatively worked into creative designs and offer a fresh spin, says Kinzig, who works pearls into industrial romantic kinds of designs for an updated contemporary touch.

The Updates
Celebrity stylist and jewelry expert Michael O’Connor, cites an interest in past eras (Mad Men, anybody?) as driving pearl demand, which in turn translates into vintage inspirations on the runways an in top fashion houses. But today’s look is more “in-your-face” he says.

Girl With A Pearl

Girl With A Pearl

Girl With A Pearl’s Bohemian line work pearls into leather and suede for looks that can be dressed up or down. Pearl blogger India Rows says chainmail styles with pearls are another look retailers should look for when searching for new products.

For example, Deniz Zizzi of Accessory Drawer sees designers such as Beth Greenberg mixing pearls with sterling silver chains.

“We think the pearl is the perfect touch to our handmade jewelry, taking something vintage and turning it into something new and fresh,” says Laurel George of The Vintage Pearl.

These fresh perspectives make pearls more attractive to women who used to dismiss them strictly as old-fashioned jewelry. And while pearls can be expensive, pieces with single pearls or freshwater options worked into leather lariats or sterling silver can be surprisingly affordable as well as fashionable.

“Women wear pearls with T-shirts, flowy blouses and cocktail dresses from brunch and work to an evening event,” Zizzi says, “Nowadays pearls are an everyday basic that fit effortlessly in the jewelry closet.”


For more information: Accessory Drawer – accessorydrawer.com, 888.209.8432; Girl With a Pearl – girlwithapearl.com, 615.767.1972; India Rows – 706.850.5296; Kinzig Design – kinzigdesign.com, 650.952.6006; Michael O’Connor – styleandsubstance.com; The Vintage Pearl – 918.935.3254; thevintagepearl.com

Images courtesy of Accessory Drawer, Girl With A Pearl, Kinzig Desig and The Vintage Pearl

Pillow Talk: Tips for Success from National Small Business Award Winner Eric and Christopher

By Adam Wisniewski

In 2012 when artists Eric Fausnacht and Christopher Kline began making canvas pillows by hand in Doylestown, PA, (about 40 miles outside Philadelphia) their basements housed the design, production and sales departments.

baby-goat_medium-pillowDuring their first six months together, Eric created the pillows’ monochromatic animal designs, while Christopher handled printing duties. After selling 1,000 pillows at regional craft fairs, the pair realized their business could scale nationally, but not from their basements.

As their eponymous company grew in sales and size, it moved production into a 7,000-square-foot facility; added tote bags, wall art and custom printing jobs to its product line; and wholesaled to customers like the L.L. Bean flagship store in Maine, The Plaza Hotel in New York City, Pine Cone Hill and the White House Historical Association. All while still making products by hand in Bucks County, PA.

The duo capped off four years of tremendous growth with the 2016 Outstanding Encore Entrepreneur Award from the national SCORE Foundation, a nonprofit network of business experts who volunteer free time and expertise to mentor small business owners.

Learning to handle that growth was one of the most important lessons Eric and Christopher took from their SCORE mentors.

“We experienced explosive growth as the business took off – 50 percent and 70 percent year-over-year,” says Christopher. “We needed to take control of it because things could have spiraled out of hand, but we learned not to be fixated on the numbers, slow down and reevaluate our positions.”

“Our mentors helped us recognize the point to invest more in equipment and people and management,” says Eric. “Christopher and I were doing everything. At some point, we had to stop doing that.”

Erpaco_chihuahua-toteic and Christopher never envisioned wholesaling would be an evolutionary force for their product line. When they first displayed at shows like The Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishings Market®, some buyers were reluctant to pull the trigger on a large order because they didn’t know if the company could fulfill that type of volume at its current size. But returning in following years and reconnecting allowed those relationships to bear fruit.

“Now our vendors ask us to expand our line,” says Eric, who describes new offerings like aprons, tea towels and other textiles. “And up to 30 percent of our business now is custom jobs. I didn’t foresee that. We are actually being approached to print yardage, and because we manufacture here in Pennsylvania, we may not be cheaper than their overseas manufacturers, but we can do smaller runs with quick turnaround to get them to market faster.”

What advice would the duo give their past selves about attending Market?

“We spend so much time and effort on the product that market often sneaks up on us,” says Christopher. “We need to set aside more time to prepare and really dig into the retail sales cycle.”

On a more practical level, Eric recalls driving his truck down from Pennsylvania stuffed to the brim to stock his first AmericasMart® booth. “I didn’t know about direct shipping or that AmericasMart could store our booth. We should have done that from the start and put extra effort into making our booth presentation more professional and clean.

“We love our products and respond to what our customers love about them,” says Eric. “People like the cleanliness, the simple images and the quality of construction. Cute, but not kitschy. Sophisticated – that is us.”


Congratulate Eric and Christopher in the newly integrated Home Accents, Home Furnishings, Fine Linens & Home Textiles and Rug collections in Building 1, Floor 7. ANTIQUES in Building 1, Floor 2 closes at 6 p.m. on Sunday, January 15. Temporaries in Buildings 1, 2 and 3, including Temps for The Atlanta International Area Rug Market® featuring The National Oriental Rug Show sponsored by ORIA are open through 2 p.m. on Monday, January 16.

The World of Rugs in Atlanta

How any retailer or designer can shop and sell rugs
by Alix G. Perachon

Only a few years ago, there was a sharp divide between items that are handmade and those that are machine made. Decorative carpets are generally designated as handknotted and flatwoven rugs, both antique and new, exhibiting classic oriental and European designs. Meanwhile, handtufted and machine made rug patterns were typically more limited.

Today’s buyer has an unparalleled choice of rugs at all price points ranging from traditional to contemporary and from handmade to machine made. Thanks to revolutionary technological advances in construction and materials, machine made area rugs now offer a level of artistry and durability that was a dream a decade ago. Hence the latest color and design trends are no longer reserved for the high-end boutique rug market, but are universal regardless of the carpet’s creation—handknotted, handtufted, flatwoven or machine made.

As the rug is the foundation of the room, what better time to learn the basics and shop at Market? Here are need-to-know decorative area rug facts to guide you as you explore the exciting January Market.

A Kaleidoscope of Color and Design

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Produced in a variety of handmade and machine woven constructions, these are among the most important area rug design types that you will view at Market:

1.Traditional: Patterns are inspired from age-old oriental designs in mainly traditional colors originating from regions including Persia, Turkey, and China including Sultanabad, Tabriz, Serapi and Oushak.

2. Transitional: Transitional rugs have been a leading force in the last five years concurrent with the casual, informal look popular in interior design. Often integrating classic and contemporary elements in the same piece, they are available in a virtually infinite range of styles. These are some of the looks falling under the transitional rug umbrella:

Oriental—Traditional oriental rug patterns—including Sultanabad, Tabriz, Serapi, Oushak, and Central Asian—exhibit a modern twist with a broad range of contemporary colors such as various shades of grey, cream, blue, and aubergine.

Ikat—Inspired from southeast Asian tie-dyed textiles, these boldly patterned rugs come in a variety of colors.

Vintage—These are generally 30-to-60-year-old oriental rugs whose colors are often chemically washed to create a more subdued “shabby chic” effect. There are also reproduction vintage-style rugs.

Over-dyed—These can be vintage pieces or reproductions that have been “over-dyed” in mainly vivid colors—including neon greens, oranges, purples, and electric blues. Patterns are often intentionally partly “erased” to create a distinctive offbeat look.

3. Moroccan: Ranging from the authentic handcrafted nomadic pieces from Morocco to reproductions, Moroccan-style carpets are characterized by ivory, brown, black, and multicolored backgrounds with geometric motifs including squares, oblongs and diamonds.

4. Contemporary: These rugs range from subdued monochromatics to graphic geometrics and florals. Avant-garde designs—including painterly impressionist and cubist patterns have revolutionized the area rug repertoire. The finest pieces are considered modern works of art in their own right—generally handknotted or handwoven in all-natural materials such as wool and silk—but cost a fraction of contemporary paintings. While Nepal has been at the forefront of contemporary rugs, other countries of production are now also involved.

Texture, Texture and More Texture
Texture, rather than pattern, plays a key role in determining the beauty of many contemporary carpets. Traditionally, decorative rugs were mainly either pile (e.g., handknotted, handtufted, and power-loomed) or flatwoven by hand or machine. Now an impressive array of construction techniques, often combined in the same piece, create sophisticated textural effects. For instance, “high low” rugs feature a combined pile and flatweave construction where the design is raised pile and the ground is flatwoven. Subtle textural variations are also obtained with a variety of cut and loop pile techniques.

Tonal rugs’ exquisite subtlety is achieved through techniques including the artful shading of hues, known as abrash, which creates richness and depth. Moreover, natural silk or silk-like materials (e.g., bamboo and banana silks and viscose) often accent specific areas or are blended with other materials, such as wool, to create a more lustrous effect. Additional materials used to produce textural effects include aloe, linen, and jute. Never before has there been a more exciting time to shop for decorative rugs. Now it’s your turn to discover what’s making the area rug market tick.

Vibrant New Home for Rug Temps
During The Atlanta International Area Rug Market® featuring the National Oriental Rug Show sponsored by ORIA, buyers have the opportunity to explore collections from a broad spectrum of exhibitors. In addition to the showroom offerings, the temporary exhibits have a new home on Floor 7 of Building 1. Proximity to some of the top home accents, furnishings, linens and textiles companies in the industry creates a unique synergy.

“Locating our area rug temporaries so close to our home temporaries creates a seamless buying experience. Our rug temps have long been a staple of savvy home buyers, and now they can shop and source these exhibitors even more conveniently,” says Kevin Malkiewicz, vice president of leasing for AmericasMart.

Retailers and designers can conveniently source a variety of exceptional rugs from across the globe as they shop other categories. “As the floor is often the first thing the eye notices when you enter a room, decorative rugs are a key element in interior design,” says Alix Perrachon, principal of Alix Unlimited, LLC. “Decorating has never been easier thanks to your ability to select rugs from a dazzling array of styles and price points, all conveniently located in one building at AmericasMart together with the latest in home accents, furnishings, and linens collections.”

The Atlanta International Area Rug Market® featuring the National Oriental Rug Show sponsored by ORIA runs Wednesday, January 11 – Sunday, January 15, 2017. The Temporaries are open in Building 1, Floor 7 from Thursday, January 12 –  Monday, January 16 and select showrooms on Floors 3 – 6 are open through Tuesday, January 17.


Acknowledgment: The author would like to thank Reza Momeni of Momeni, Inc. and Alex Peykar of Nourison for their invaluable information.

Alix G. Perrachon is a writer, speaker, and consultant in the rug industry to the interior design trade. She is the author of The Decorative Carpet—Fine Handmade Rugs in Contemporary Interiors published by The Monacelli Press/Random House, the only book to feature rugs from the decorative standpoint, and of countless articles on oriental and decorative weavings and antiques. An ASID CEU-certified speaker, she has lectured on decorative rugs all over the country. She was an international judge for the Carpet Design Awards in Hanover, Germany and moderated the decorative rug panel at the Architectural Digest Design Show/New York Times Design Series in 2016.

A Reason to Celebrate

Commemorating 20 Years of Holiday & Floral/Home Décor
By Helen Anne

It’s party time! Holiday & Floral/Home Décor is marking 20 years of success with a celebration during the January 2017 Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market. The product center, initially marketed using the “Art of Christmas,” has expanded to include celebrations that create family traditions.

Executing a new exhibit concept in 1996, AmericasMart redesigned space in Building 1, brought exhibitors with substantial Christmas lines together into one area and began promoting products designed for holiday celebrations. By focusing marketing efforts on a certain type of product located in a collective space, AmericasMart hoped to increase traffic to all exhibitors.

Loyal From the Beginning
Vaillancourt Folk Art, owned by Gary and Judi Vaillancourt, manufactures highly-detailed, hand-painted chalkware collectibles. The company was one of the first exhibitors to move to the 20th floor where artist-driven companies are highlighted. Gary Vaillancourt says the move has been very profitable for their business. “Right now, [the 20th floor] is probably the place to go in the show,” he says. “We see every major department store and every major catalog.”

Vaillancourt-AmericasMart AtlantaIn the beginning, however, it took creativity to develop foot traffic in the new center. The Vaillancourts relied on appointments with large buyers, but worked diligently with fellow exhibitors to build business with smaller buyers. “We would do different things,” Gary Vaillancourt says. “We would have scavenger hunts and Halloween parties and Easter egg hunts.” He even admitted to having photos of himself dancing a tango with Bethany Lowe, another early exhibitor in the product center.

Bethany Lowe, artist and creative director at Bethany Lowe Designs, remembers those early days well. Her company specializes in one-of-a-kind, collectible Christmas figurines and ornaments, as well as products for other holidays and family celebrations. She still designs and hand-finishes her high-end products, while her daughter Erin Glennon serves as CEO.

Lowe says she sent three Santa figurines to her first Atlanta Market more than 25 years ago. “I sold out my production for the year with one show,” she says. “After that, I was hooked on Atlanta.”

When the product center opened in the mid-1990s, it didn’t take long for Bethany Lowe Designs to move in. “We jumped on board on the 20th floor in the second year, and we’re really happy we did,” Lowe says. “It was appealing to me that the Mart was willing to offer dedicated showrooms to a select group of artists.”

All About the Relationships
Bethany Lowe - AmericasMart AtlantaBoth Bethany Lowe and Gary Vaillancourt credit the close-knit community of exhibitors with helping them maintain a competitive edge. Glennon echoes those sentiments. “We’ve been in a prime location for going on 20 years,” Glennon says. “People know where we are, and we’re absolutely a destination. That recognition is based, in part, on the relationships we’ve built in that building—from fellow exhibitors to the AmericasMart staff.”

Stephanie Voss, director of marketing for K&K Interiors, says her company also found a home in Holiday & Floral/Home Décor because K&K had an emphasis on the Holiday product category. Since first exhibiting on floors 19 and 20, K&K has experienced sales growth each year, and is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. “The shows represent a reunion of sorts for us because many of our customers are like family since they have been doing business with us for so long,” Voss says. “The ambiance is always upbeat with music, the smell of baked cookies, laughter and plenty of hugs.”

Kurt S. Adler is also celebrating an anniversary this year – the company’s 70th. Founded just after the end of World War II by Kurt Adler, the company is guided today by his children – Howard, Clifford and Karen. As the decades passed, the company has modified its product line from European traditions such as Black Forest Christmas Trees to blown glass ornaments, bubble-blowers and limited edition ornaments. With a nod to the past, its collection of Hollywood Nutcrackers has been popular for the past decade, and animatronics, fiber optic trees and interactive advent calendars carry it into the future.

Always Evolving and Growing
Julie H. Fry, CEO of Select Artificials, has had a decades-long association with AmericasMart, but only moved to Building 1 in late 2014 with a grand opening in the new space in January 2015. With the expanded showroom, Fry says Select Artificials continues to welcome both long-standing and new clients. “It is a great way for old friends, I mean customers, to see our product in a different venue,” she says. “It reinforces relationships.”

Building 1, Floor 20 - AmericasMart AtlantaAnother relatively new exhibitor in Holiday & Floral/Home Décor is Kaemingk, an international company focused on seasonal products from Christmas to Valentine’s Day to Easter to summer gardens. Mark Hooper, USA sales manager for Kaemingk, says the company’s experience has been so positive, it’s making an investment in its showroom this year. “We see Atlanta as one of the strongest markets in the U.S. and Building 1 the best place for our type of products,” he says. “We’re expanding our showroom for the 2017 January Market,” he says, “doubling our space from 7,000 to 14,000 sq. ft.”

As Holiday & Floral/Home Décor moves into its third decade, exhibitors are excited about the future. They expect their products to stay rooted in Christmas with continued expansion into Halloween, Easter, spring, Valentine’s Day and family traditions. They also have great plans to introduce their products to new buyers.

Join the exhibitors on Friday, January 13, from 4 – 7 p.m. as they celebrate 20 years of Holiday & Floral on Floor 20 and visit all the Holiday & Floral/Home Décor showrooms in Building 1, Floors 16-20 during January Market. And, keep in mind many exhibitors are Open Year Round between Markets as well.

Images courtesy of Bethany Lowe and Vaillancourt Folk Art.