A Pinch of Green

1. Leftbank Art Co. 2. Lacefield/J Douglas, Inc. 3. Accessory Drawer 4. Mills Floral & Home 5. Veritas/Veronica Flam 6. Global Views 7. Daniel Richards 8. CODARUS 9. Mr. Brown 10. Yedi Houseware 11. Hobo

Shop products in every color from select showrooms open year-round and during The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market,® July 11 – 18, 2017.

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

Be My Valentine?

feb17_valentinesday_blogpst_r3-01

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.

Home Starts Here

Diversity of product leads to buyer success in Building 1, Floors 3 through 6
By Laura Raines

Four years ago, AmericasMart made a bold decision to integrate home furnishing exhibitors into its traditional rug floors (3-6) in Building 1. The showcase of diverse collections gives buyers access to more products, ideas and expertise.

“Retailers and designers appreciate the one-stop approach of having so much complementary merchandise within easy reach,” says Kevin Malkiewicz, vice-president and leasing manager.

One-stop buying works for the designer needing the perfect rug to complete a client’s den; the furniture store owner expanding into rugs; the carpet retailer adding more home accessories; or the lifestyle shopkeeper looking for display vignettes inspired by the latest trends.

“A creative lifestyle rug and home furnishings environment fits with the changing marketplace which has fewer specialty stores and more merchants selling online and across multiple product classifications,” says Malkiewicz.

AmericasMart Atlanta

Dimond Home

Elk International Group readily adopted the idea. “We took a leap of faith by moving to a larger location on the 6th floor, historically a rug floor, several years ago,” says CEO Bradford Smith. ELK is a manufacturer and distributor of lighting, wall décor, gifts and home accessories. Other home furnishing exhibitors have joined them.

“The floor has broad appeal to customers wanting to shop multiple categories in one location, while allowing greater opportunity to view merchandise in lifestyle settings,” says Smith.

Complimentary Collections
ELK’s designer has incorporated more than 400 new products into vignettes that
focus on modern farmhouse, urban and contemporary styles for the January show.
“Concrete tables and lamps, designer outdoor portable lighting, hand painted wall art, mirrors, and home furnishing accessories are shown in ‘wa-la’ settings that draw new customers,” says Kerry Radar, ELK showroom manager. “Catalogues and online ordering are a convenience, but people like to see things put together, to see the scale and how colors blend. It gives them ideas,” she adds.

AmericasMart Atlanta

Justina Blakeney Collection/Loloi Rugs

Other exhibitors agree. “Buyers today are looking at the décor and furnishings in all-encompassing approach; most are buying at least one other category, making it important for them to see how rugs coordinate with other aspects in their vignettes and store settings,” says Cyrus Loloi, principal of Loloi Rugs, located on the 4th floor.

Atlanta’s market symbolizes newness and freshness in the rug market, says Loloi. “This will be one of our largest product unveilings to date, with everything from new machine-made rugs, to hand-knotted carpets, as well pillows and new throws.” Loloi customers include large and small furniture stores, luxury designer showrooms and flooring specialty stores. “While inexpensive rugs are getting more beautiful all the time with the advancement of technology; we also see a strong market supporting the skill and artistry that goes into a fine rug.”

Full Coordination
Michael Marks, of Capel Rugs, an AmericasMart exhibitor since the early 1970s agrees that “Atlanta is a great rug market.” The company recently moved to the third floor, wanting to be closer to its competitors. “There is a synergy and community showing near other rug suppliers. Whether designers or retailers are looking for classic, transitional or contemporary styles, or the fast-growing niche of outdoor rugs, they’ll find it here,” says Marks. “An area rug can change the direction of a room, making it a popular home accessory in today’s economy.” And a good complement to other home furnishings.

AmericasMart Atlanta

Capel Rugs

Showing amidst rug and home furnishing showrooms makes rugs less intimidating
and more accessible, says Andrew Peykar, vice-president of operations for Nourison, a leader in the rug market, with a large showroom on Floor 3. Displays such as his
compact Rug Boutique helps place rugs in non-traditional rug stores. Diversification is
a benefit to everyone, he says. Key is for buyers to be able to source complete collections conveniently, which is simple at AmericasMart in Building 1, Floors 3-6.

Shop Floors 3-6 during The Atlanta International Area Rug Market® featuring The National Oriental Rug Show sponsored by ORIA, Wednesday, January 11 – Sunday, January 15 and select showrooms open for The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market®, Tuesday, January 10 – Tuesday, January 17. Come visit the new Lighting & Decor Lounge in Building 1, Floor 5, 5-B-1 during Market and join us Wednesday, January 11 from 4 – 6 p.m. as we celebrate the debut of Lighting & Decor, a new magazine from Scranton Gillette Communications.The Lighting & Decor Lounge will feature a dynamic lineup of events with industry leaders, celebrity appearances, happy hours, trend presentations, and much, much more, Thursday, January 12 – Sunday, January 15:

Lunch and Lounge: Noon
Daily Dialogues: 1 p.m.
Happy Hour: 4 – 6 p.m.
Linley+Lauren’s Fab Five at Five Trend Presentations: 5 p.m.

Visit AmericasMart.com/January to learn more.


For more information:
Capel Rugs – 404.577.4320, capelrugs.com; ELK – 800.613.3261×312; Loloi Rugs – 404.220.2616, loloirugs.com; Nourison – 201.368.6900, nourison.com

Images courtesy of Capel Rugs, Dimond Home and Loloi Rugs