Be My Valentine?

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Happy Valentine’s Day

1. Pasha Furniture, Inc. 2.The Oliver Gal Artist Co. 3. Patricia Locke Ltd. 4. Gold Leaf Design Group, Inc. 5. Rosanna, Inc./Daniel Richards 6. Roman 7. Olivia Riegel 8. Modgy
9. Adams & Co. 10. Midwest-CBK 11. Bloomingville/Ivystone 12. Fiesta Dinnerware/Keystone

Whatever the season or celebration, AmericasMart has the perfect pieces to complete your offerings. See why our holiday and floral floors have buyers returning time and time again. Explore it all this spring at the Atlanta Spring Gift, Home Furnishings & Holiday Market®, March 8 – 10, 2017, and July 11 – 18, during The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market®. Select showrooms are open year-round.

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

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