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.

PANTONE Color of the Year 2017: Greenery

Today, PANTONE announced its Color of the Year for 2017: Greenery.

“A refreshing and revitalizing shade, Greenery is symbolic of new beginnings,” according to the global authority on color and provider of professional color standards for the design industries.

At AmericasMart, we’re also seeing Greenery – in home furnishings, home accents, gifts, tabletop and more.

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Global Views

How can you use Greenery in your designs or store? Check out our trend report “Tropical Escape” in the January 2017 edition of the AmericasMart Magazine, arriving to your stores, homes and offices this month.

Get an inside glimpse into the selection of the PANTONE Color of the Year and learn more about key color trends for 2017 — where they are coming from, why they are happening and where they are headed in the future — from Laurie Pressman, vice president of the PANTONE Color Institute in a presentation “Home 2017: At a Crossroads for Color + Design” on Friday, January 13 at The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market.

Happy Thanksgiving

AmericasMart Atlanta

Top image: Juliska 1. Jan Barboglio 2. Creative Co-Op, Inc. 3. IMAX Corporation 4. DEMDACO 5. K & K Interiors, Inc. 6. Midwest-CBK 7. Blue Pheasant 8. Moser Crystal 9. DCI – Designs Combined, Inc. 10. Melrose International, LLC 11. Juliska  12. Global Views 13. Bunakara 14. Loloi, Inc. 15. RAZ Imports, Inc. 16. Sea Stones 17. Bloomingville 18. Sertodo Copper 19. Creative Co-Op, Inc. 20. Michael Aram

Shop Holiday & Floral/Home Décor, plus an array of Gift products, during The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market,® January 10 – 17, 2017, and select showrooms open year-round.

“Diamonds of Design” Vignette Exhibition Celebrates 60 Years of Design Inspiration

Presented in Partnership with The Coastal Living, Southern Living
and Sunset Designer Network

In celebration of the diamond anniversary, AmericasMart® Atlanta assembles the most brilliant designers from coast to coast in Atlanta for the latest designer vignette gallery, Diamonds of Design presented in partnership with The Southern Living, Coastal Living and Sunset Designer Network, whose members epitomize the highest standards of design talent across the three unique brands. Diamonds of Design premieres at The Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishings Market®, January 10 – 17, 2017.

Eight members of The Designer Network will use products sourced from AmericasMart showrooms and temporaries to create vignettes showcasing their favorite eras, decades, design icons or moments in time from the last 60 years. The designers include:

Joni Vanderslice and Shell Neely, J. Banks Design Group
Lauren Liess, Lauren Liess & Co.
Lauren DeLoach, Lauren DeLoach Interiors
Anna Braund, Anna Braund
Dana Wolter, Dana Wolter Interiors
Meredith Ellis, Meredith Ellis Design
Jenny Wolf, Jenny Wolf Interiors
Betsey Mosby, Betsey Mosby Interiors

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Kristin Alber of FOUND by domestic bliss and presenting sponsor REstyleSOURCE will again participate in the exhibition, creating vignettes in the Floor 1 lobbies of AmericasMart Buildings 1 and 2. The exhibition is sponsored by AmericasMart showroom partners: Accent Décor, Castelle, CODARUS, Currey & Company, Jaipur Living, Oly, and Up Country Home.

“For decades, the pages of Southern Living, Coastal Living and Sunset have featured the best in home design, and today The Designer Network represents the most brilliant designers from coast to coast, highlighting design aesthetics seen across all of our publications,” says Misty Chandler, marketing manager, Homes and Licensing, Time Inc. “We’re thrilled to present the Diamonds of Design Vignette Exhibition with AmericasMart Atlanta, the definitive source of design inspiration and innovation for the last 60 years and decades to come.”

“AmericasMart has been the catalyst for design trends for 60 years,” says Dave Savula, executive vice president, AmericasMart Home, Gift and Apparel Showroom Leasing. “The Diamonds of Design vignette exhibition showcases our leadership and innovation within the design industry by celebrating the past while looking forward to the future.”

The Diamonds of Design Vignette Gallery is located in Building 1, Floor 14, space 14-D-9, with additional vignettes in the lobbies of Buildings 1 and 2. It will be available for viewing throughout Market, and will continue to be on display until June 2017.

For more information about Diamonds of Design, visit www.AmericasMart.com/DiamondsOfDesign and follow #DiamondsOfDesign on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. For additional information about January Market programming, visit www.AmericasMart.com/January.

Sunshine Slowdown

By Chris Gigley

Somewhere on South Florida’s vast and clogged network of roads, routes and highways, Carol Adams is on her way to one of her four interior design and home decor stores. But the owner of Excentricities says her life is a lot easier than it used to be.

For about 28 years, Adams owned and operated another Excentricities location—in Long Island’s gilded Hamptons area. On paper, the Hamptons was a natural fit. The place has lots of vacation homes, disposable income and the kind of irrational high demand for redesign projects that keeps a business like hers flush with work.

Adams herself, however, lacked the one thing her business was known for—balance.

“Our business is spread equally between interior design and retail,” she says. “Our customers can buy anything in our showrooms right off the floor, which often happens. We also try to find one-of-a-kind items to create an interesting mix for our customers.”

Excentricities has been that way since 1986, when Adams opened her first two stores. One was the Hamptons location. The other, in North Palm Beach, is now the flagship store. In 2003, Adams opened a showroom in Delray Beach, Fla. The West Palm Beach location debuted in 2012, and the fifth showroom, in Jupiter, opened its doors two years later. With business booming in South Florida, Adams did the only sane thing this year and closed the Hamptons store. While she still does a lot of running around, at least the distances are commutable by car.

SHOPPING THE RIGHT VIBE

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Adams says she is careful not to streamline the way she buys for each Florida store. Her philosophy is simple. “I just buy whatever I like, frankly,” she says. More specifically, she buys what she likes for each store’s particular customer base, and that makes for a lot of walking when she comes to Atlanta.

“I can’t tell you how many different vendors we have,” she says. “It’s probably anywhere from 500 to 700. I’m not saying that they’re all repeat orders. If it doesn’t sell we don’t buy it again.”

Each store carries several furniture lines with plenty of accessories lines mixed in. Adams says on her most recent trip to The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market®, she was pleasantly surprised by how much she found.

“The market has changed dramatically,” she says. “I used to go there to buy little gift items, but there is a lot more furniture now. I found a lot of new vendors. It was great, and it was easy.”

CREATING A STORE IDENTITY
Adams deserves as many breaks as she can get, because even with a more concentrated business she still has plenty of challenges. Above all is maintaining each store’s unique identity per its clientele. “In West Palm Beach we get a lot of wealthy people from Palm Beach, while Delray is more of an eclectic, funky town. It’s very charming,” she says. “In North Palm Beach we get a little older crowd, and Jupiter is a mixed bag.”

Her newest location just might become the most lucrative. “The community is a bit older, but a lot of young people are moving in,” she says. “It’s just booming. It’s unbelievable. I’m a native Floridian, and when I was growing up no one would go to Jupiter. Now everyone wants to go.”

A customized buying strategy is just half the secret to maintaining each store’s character. The other is having the right staff. Adams has 14 employees spread among the four stores. She says she’d love to have more, “but we’re always short of staff.” That means Adams is always on the road to one of her locations to work with staff and clientele. Then, it’s off to the next store. Then the next.

“I’m like the energizer bunny,” she jokes. “I’m always on the go.”

The difference now is that she feels more grounded, and Excentricities is better for it.

For more information, visit excentricities.com.
Images: Steve Tutterow Photography

A Welcome Wagon

Texas retailer hitches her fortune to AmericasMart
By Poormina Apte

Sangeeta Gupta, the owner of Modelli Creations, was just starting out and Carley Seale, then a rookie retailer, fell in love with the products. Today Modelli is one of the many wholesalers that anchors Seale’s The Gypsy Wagon, which has two locations in Texas: Dallas and Austin. An additional operation, ROAM Fine Goods, makes up the vibrant retail selection in Crested Butte, Colo.

A STEADY RIDE

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The Gypsy Wagon got its start in 2007 in the middle of the Great Recession. But the economy did not faze Seale who was bitten by the retail bug in high school. Seale left her job as vice president of a sales team for a medical devices company and opened the first Gypsy Wagon in Dallas. Since then, the business has grown, employing 31 people across all three locations.

The stores’ vibe is “very wanderlust and free-spirited,” with just hints of the South. Not having a “lick of retail experience” Seale wanted to create a store that stocked reasonably priced goods for everyone, not realizing how difficult that would be to implement. The name The Gypsy Wagon has given her room to grow and Seale, whose husband Johnny, is operations chief, says every product is selected to incite an emotional response. Starting with home decor and gifts, the stores have added apparel and footwear under the guidance of three full-time buyers including Seale.

Selling a variety of home, gift and apparel items from Paddywax candles to Flying Bird Botanical teas and dresses from Show Me Your Mumu, The Gypsy Wagon has a dedicated customer base and devoted fans on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

ATLANTA, HOTLANTA
An AmericasMart fan, Seale is particularly partial to Handmade and HIGH DESIGN
and believes AmericasMart has the most to offer in one stop. “I shop Atlanta, New York and Dallas but if I had to pick one it would be Atlanta because it has everything—the southern feel, the latest products. It has the most to offer in one location,” Seale says.

Seale’s competitive streak means that she’s always an early bird at Cash and Carry. “If there’s something that’s one of a kind I want to be the one to get it,” she says. Seale doesn’t have a set strategy for shopping at AmericasMart and appreciates the sense of discovery that comes from just taking it all in. “I like it to be a little unstructured because that’s when your mind is open to seeing new things,” Seale says.

That’s how Seale discovers great product finds including Modelli at AmericasMart years ago. “Sangeeta keeps bringing awesome stuff, and it’s neat that you can cultivate that kind of relationship,” Seale says of Modelli’s owner.

“That’s why you have to keep going too, because you don’t know who will be there
for the first time,” Seale advises, “You really don’t want to miss anything.”


Join us for The Atlanta Fall Immediate Delivery Show® – A Cash & Carry Event, November 1 – 3, 2016 at AmericasMart. From jewelry to furniture, and everything in between, restock your inventory instantly with products your customers need for the holidays and beyond.

Carley Seale is the owner of The Gypsy Wagon which has locations in Dallas and Austin, Texas. Husband, Johnny Seale is operations chief. For more information, visit www.the-gypsy-wagon.com. Seale has a third store, ROAM Fine Goods in Crested Butte, Colo.

Images: Scott Light Photography

Staying at Home

Key interior concepts for Fall/Winter 2016

The rise of working freelance or being a consultant is changing the way home interiors are viewed and valued. More people are working out of their homes, and a renewed interest in housewarming and home dining make the home the focal point for many. Design is thoughtful, tactile and reflects humans’ desire to reconnect while keeping personal space. Understanding these shifts in trends is vital to selecting a product mix that will resonate with customers. Trend Specialists at WGSN, a subscription based trend forecasting service, offer a few of their predictions for trends in Fall/Winter 2016 home décor.

ALL NATURAL
WitImage courtesy of WGSNh concerns for the environment progressively influencing major design choices, interiors will take on more natural looks this fall. Organic walls and floors will become more common, with cork, plywood and chipboard appreciated for their natural qualities. Soft to the touch, sound-absorbing, thermally insulating, these materials are also highly renewable, as are bamboo, wicker and rattan, which will be prominent in furniture and decorative accessories.

Image courtesy of WGSN

 

LAYERED TEXTURE
Tactility and warmth add new dimension to interiors this season, with an emphasis on comfort. Combining and mixing surfaces looks fresh in neutral tones to allow surface depth to be the main focal point in the room.

 

 

Image courtesy of WGSN
1970S GEO
Geos are simplified in thick, bold outlines and blocks of rounded shape. Chevrons and openwork designs reference the 1970s, with key colors including earth tones with splashes of acid orange, espresso brown, and forest green.

 

 

Image courtesy of WGSN

 

DRAMATIC FLORALS
Black and inky hues are used as core colors to create strong prints and patterns on wallpapers and fabrics. Large florals create dramatic settings with a classic, historical look, while the tropical trend also takes a dark twist, moving away from last summer’s bright interpretations.

 

 

Image courtesy of WGSN

 

 

CAPTURED NATURE
Fragile, poetic floral motifs look dusty and moody on white grounds and overlaid on sheer materials. The whole plant is used for design inspiration; stems and leaves mix with buds in whimsical tonal hues.

 

 


Ali Lind, senior trend consultant for WGSN— the industry-leading content and technology solution for professionals in the style, fashion and design sectors—joins us for Fall Design Week Featuring Gourmet & Gift to present 2017 Trend Forecast: A Tour of Lifestyle, Interiors & Fashion Influences to Know in the Year Ahead on Thursday, September 22. Come enjoy a complimentary lunch at noon and then see how high fashion will inspire and translate into home interiors and accessories in the year ahead. Educational Sponsor: Olliix #AtlMkt

Images courtesy of WGSN. For more information, visit wgsn.com.