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.

Design Resource Debut

DÉCOR │ Light & Lifestyles Temporary collection opens in July
By Laura Raines

Building on the success of HIGH DESIGN and HD Home, AmericasMart unveils DÉCOR │ Light & Lifestyles during The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market®, July 12 – 19, 2016. On Floor 8 of Building 1, the temporary, juried collection gives manufacturers of design-oriented home furnishings and accessories a showcase for fresh lines and ideas. Expect to discover a mix of lighting, furniture and a plentiful variety of fine linens and textiles, which are a fast-growing sector in the home market.

“Quality is the strong-point of this space,” says Marie Knight, vice president of Tradeshows. “We have found that grouping exhibitors in like-minded neighborhoods is a good idea. They often share similar buyers and complement one another.”

Madison Chair by TAILORED Taylor Burke Home

Madison Chair by TAILORED Taylor Burke Home

The new space creates an entirely fresh buying experience. “The collection is an expanded expression of what is new and next in lifestyle and lighting design,” says JoAnn Miller Marshall, AmericasMart executive vice president of Tradeshows. “The spacious booths, hard walls and floor layout give these top manufacturers the ultimate venue to showcase their sophisticated mix of the hottest trends in home furnishings design and décor.”

Exhibitors will be able to showcase their best options in a unique space. “The 8th floor is the perfect opportunity for us to show buyers a new mix of products,” says Julianne Taylor, founder and creative director for Taylor Burke Home. “We will create a beautiful cross-merchandised space to provide a fun shopping experience for our buyers.”

All the elements
French Market Collection has a permanent showroom of furniture, linens and rugs on Floor 14, but Peggy Richardson will show products from her new lighting company, Get Lit, in the new temporary space. Her venture with J.M. Piers took off in HD Home last year. This year, she’ll bring more designs in alabaster, glass and ceramic, a blend of traditional shapes with contemporary shades and colors, in low, medium and high price points. Having just returned from China, she plans to introduce muted colors (celadon, turquoise, pinks) to coordinate with French Market’s textile collections. “White will be back—it was a surprise hit last year,” she says. Designers exploring white’s range of warm to cool tones have made it a hot decorating trend.

Bamboo lamp by Get Lit

Bamboo lamp by Get Li

The new Décor │ Light and Lifestyles section allows Richardson to cross market. The booth floor will display one of her rugs and she’ll show Get Lit lamps in her permanent showroom. “With lighting, we have a new niche and revenue generator. Most homes need at least eight lamps,” she says. “We expect this area to be a must-see for stores and designers looking for something new and exciting.” She knows she’s in good company with quality manufacturers of lighting and soft goods. “Lighting, textiles and linens are growing because they are an economical way to change the entire look of a room,” she says.

Sophisticated mix
The new area is an opportunity for Taylor Burke Home to showcase the company’s new TAILORED by Taylor Burke Home line. “It’s perfect for designers working on a budget,” says Julianne Taylor, founder and creative director. “The styles are classic everyday chic designs and include gorgeous Lacefield and The Blush Label patterns among many other solids as part our standard fabric options. Best of all, the fabric is included.”

Glory by Callisto Home

Glory by Callisto Home

Gerry Nichol, co-owner of Callisto Home, sees the space as an excellent match for his elegant and sophisticated pillows, bed linens and window treatments in pale colors and neutrals, including designs featuring the latest demand accent, subdued gold. “Textiles are always in vogue, because people use them ubiquitously, and styles generally evolve faster than in furniture,” says Nichol. “We are excited to have the opportunity to showcase our work here. Our aim is to display our products beautifully and give our customers a pleasing experience.”

For more information: Callisto Home at callistohome.com or 201.866.0122; French Market Collection at frenchmarketcollection.com or 985.646.0678; Taylor Burke Home at taylorburkehome.com or 800.860.5821

Shop the new DÉCOR | Light & Lifestyles collection July 14 – 18 on Floor 8 of Building 1.

Saying “I Do” In Style

Today, the Atlanta Apparel WORLD OF PROM Market comes to a close, which means that all eyes are on VOW | New World Of Bridal in September. This market will be focused on what’s new and next for all things bridal in 2016.

We’ve researched the trends to give you the latest information on what you can expect to see at Market and in stores for spring and summer of  2016. The trends include classic styles, with modern twists and unique details to make any bride stand out…


color

A Mix of Colors: It’s not just all white anymore… brides are straying away from the traditional white wedding gown, and going for something with a little more color. If you are in the market for a wedding dress today, you may find it hard to find an all white dress. We are seeing a lot of cream and off-white, as well as very light blue and even hints of black for a little bit of edge!


embellishments2

Expect Embellishments: Embellishments can make a bland dress beautiful in just seconds, and we have seen them all over the runway for 2016 bridal. Expect to see pearls and metallic stones gracing the bodes of many dresses.


feathers

Ruffles and Feathers: We’re seeing these features show up on the bottom half of many dresses, creating a more full look on something a little simple.


train

The Detachable Train: Many designers are bringing this trend back in a more fashionable and updated way, adding attachments to the sides and back of a more slim gown. Brides can easily remove the attachments for light-weight reception attire.


floral

Fancy Florals: Ranging floral patterns are covering the designs of wedding dresses for 2016. Whether it’s a colorful mix, or a detailed embellishment, you are sure to see this trend walking down the aisle.


backless

Showing a Little Skin: No back? No problem. Brides are loving the chance to show off a little skin with a complete backless dress, while still keeping a classic silhouette in the front.


offtheshoulder

Off the Shoulder: A huge trend in the fashion industry right now is the off-the-shoulder look on tops and dresses. This style shows off the color bone and also allows brides to show off some skin without going overboard. It’s trendy and classic, all at the same time.


neckline

Plunging Neckline: The popular, revealing style extends down to the lower waist. This style can be paired with anything from long-sleeves to a strapless, sweet-heart shape. Mesh fabric can also be paired with this style, creating a illusion of more bare skin being shown.


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We look forward to seeing you at VOW | New World Of Bridal, taking place on Wednesday, September 16 – Friday, September 18, 2015.

PROM 2016 TRENDS

As we prepare for the WORLD OF PROM this month, we can’t help but day dream about all of the amazing prom styles that will be trending for 2016. With so many breathtaking and flattering designs, this could very well be the most fashionable prom season yet.

We’ve gathered together a list of trending styles to get you prepared to shop prom 2016 here in Atlanta. With so many different collections, you are sure to find just the right variety for everyone’s prom needs. From classy and timeless detail, to fun and unique shapes, there is something for everyone to achieve the perfect look they have been dreaming of for a night they will never forget.


TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE

TWO PIECESIt’s easy to see that crop tops have been a huge trend piece during the past couple years, and they are better than ever for the prom 2016 season. While still keeping the look of a traditional prom dress, the idea of two pieces adds a fun touch for young girls. We’re seeing this in many different styles, including pieces with short or long sleeves, as well as full-length and short skirts.


SLEEVES, SHORT + LONG

We’ve seen necklines such as strapless, sweetheart and one-shoulder, but now the art SLEEVESof sleeves is gracing the prom dresses of 2016. Short, long, off the shoulder… you name it and you’ll most likely see it in some shape or form. Although this aspect gives prom dresses a much more conservative feel, it only adds more of a special touch. It also allows plus size women an option to feel more comfortable while dressing for a formal event!


MIDI LENGTH

MIDI LENGTHThis trend debuted in the 1940’s and made a comeback recently in 2011. After dying down quite a bit, designers have decided to try a new take on the midi skirt and incorporate it into formal fashion. For prom dressers looking to embrace a more elegant and conservative style, this trend meets perfection. It’s feminine and classy, just the way a prom dress should be!


LACE, PLEASE

We can’t really think of a time when lace hasn’t been a good idea. Prom dresses covered in lace or with simple lace accents have madeLACE them that much more beautiful. Combining lace with mesh fabric creates an illusion of  lace covering the body, which we’ve seen all over the fashion industry lately. Multiple brands have been incorporating this trend into their 2016 designs, and we can’t wait to see more.


THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF BLING

EMBELISHMENTSEmbellishments have been popular in past prom seasons, and this year they are back and better than ever. We are seeing a lot of fully embellished looks, as well as some partly embellished looks mixed with mesh to create the desired illusion. Dresses covered in embellishments, such as this white Sherri Hill look, make the perfect statement.


RSVP for WORLD OF PROM, the nation’s #1 Prom & Social Occasion Market, taking place during the Atlanta Apparel Market on Thursday, August 6 – Monday, August 10, 2015. Join us for our WORLD OF PROM fashion show on Thursday, August 6 featuring prom trends for the 2016 season!

Resort Wear 2016 at Atlanta Apparel

When you think of resort wear, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? Maybe you and your girlfriends lying on the beach in your most recent bikini purchase, sipping cocktails with your flip flops dangling off the side of your beach chair. Well, we have good news, resort wear does constitute the latest in bikini style, but it also includes a multitude of other styles, as well. Think loose maxi dresses, playful matching separates, oversized straw hats and even a bright colored pair of heels. When it comes to resort wear, it’s all about being on trend with the latest fashionable, summer pieces that make you feel effortless and simple, yet extremely chic.

We’ve gathered photos from our previous Atlanta Apparel Daily Struts to show you exactly what resort wear can entail. Basically, there are no limits. It can get as fancy as a killer jumpsuit, or as laid back as a kimono thrown over a stylish bikini. Take note of the styles you favor and visit us next month at the Atlanta Apparel Market to bring your retail store only the latest in resort wear 2016.


Bright Colors

AWH_PHOTO-6739Bright colors are a must for resort wear, and this jumpsuit doesn’t disappoint. It’s the perfect piece to pack for your summer vacation that can be worn for dinner and drinks mixed with other neutral accents. With it’s loose fabric that flows as you walk, we guarantee this number will turn some heads.


Playful Prints

The palm print swept just about every retail store inAWH_PHOTO-6833 some shape or form this season, and we can see it sticking around. The print on this dress mixed with other bright colors adds a “wow” factor to the simple, white shift dress. Gladiator sandals or summer heels, you choose!


Effortless Bikini

AWH_PHOTO-4057While shopping for resort wear 2016, look for pieces that can be paired with a simple, neutral bikini. Fun kimonos like this one add the perfect touch and can be included in multiple other combinations in a day-to-day summertime wardrobe.


Accessorize Light

Don’t go over board on accessories for your AWH_PHOTO-4006collection of resort wear pieces. It’s important that you choose light and you choose well. Hats play a huge part in turning a casual look into something one-of-a-kind. When it comes to jewelry, go for lighter pieces that can be worn to the pool, or thrown on with a simple maxi dress.


Summer Elegance

AWH_PHOTO-4293We might have saved the best for last. This dress screams resort wear. The incorporated bright colors , “airy” fabric and low-cut neckline all compliment the dress so well.  This flattering look will be sure to get more than a few compliments. Pair with wedges and light jewels for a complete dinner look.


For styles like these and much more, visit Atlanta Apparel, taking place August 6 – 10, 2015.

Fall 2015 Trends and More with Larry Lucas

Larry Lucas has been a familiar face on the AmericasMart campus since the 1970s. Lucas recently retired from his eponymous showroom, Larry Lucas, Inc. after nearly 40 years. Prior to his wholesale career, Lucas owned a successful 10,000-square-foot gift and floral shop in Sandy Springs, Ga.  He will periodically share his expertise with us on the AmericasMart blog.


Although the fall brings cold weather, there are always so many great things to look forward to during the season. New fashion trends, college football, the holidays and so much more. Throughout the Atlanta Apparel Market at AmericasMart, we have the chance to see exciting fall trends before anyone else. Throughout this blog post, you will find trends to look forward to for the Fall 2015 season, as well as helpful tips to incorporate in your retail store.

Mellow Yellow

This fall, yellow will make a strong comeback in many different styles. We’re already AWH_PHOTO-8632beginning to see it debuting in shops around town, on the Instagram accounts of popular bloggers, and used by leading designers in new collections. We will see a rich, sunflower yellow, deeper in tone than the daisy yellow of spring.

When it comes to choosing which yellow items would best complement your existing wardrobe, turn to your favorite fashion bloggers or Pinterest account for suggestions. We’ve seen the trend add a pop of color in just about every style or shape, including dresses, skirts, pants, shoes and bags.

We may be kissing summer goodbye at the end of August, but prepare your closets to take a little inspiration from the sun this fall. Pair your yellow pieces with a rich brown, gray, black or orange to channel more of a fall look, resembling the leaves at the end of the summer.

Accessories – Not Just an Impulse Buy

Not only will yellow be making a statement this fall, but so will those easy and affordable add-on accessories that you just can’t seem to stay away from while you’re out shopping. Think along the lines of scarves, hats and jewelry. We’ve seen hats make a huge fashion statement over the last few years, and we are thrilled to see them sticking around.

AWH_PHOTO-0168Trendy accessories continue as a growing factor this fall, including new and old pieces. They can easily add to any woman’s personality and complement any look, depending on her style of choice. They have the advantage of being an affordable item that customers can easily pick up during a shopping trip.

Accessories should be an integral part of a retail business. There are different styles with a variety of quality to choose from, depending on the direction of your store. Select accessories that complement the apparel you’ll be selling for the season.

Show Your Spirit

In addition to bright colors and trendy accessories, collegiate items of state schools remain in the spotlight. Each fall, these items make their way back in some new form orAWH_PHOTO-9476 fashion. During the June Atlanta Apparel Market, collegiate T-shirts and stylish Game Day collections made appearances throughout showrooms and during the Daily Struts.

Shortly following football season, Christmas will be here before we know it, with all of its festive holiday fashion. During the holidays, it’s important to let your customers know what options your store has for gifting. Try showcasing your smaller items near the check-out area, or create a small gifting display. Your customers will appreciate that everything is in one spot, and they can easily find what they are looking for.

What trends are you most looking forward to for Fall 2015?

The next Atlanta Apparel Market will take place Thursday, August 6 – Monday, August 10, 2015.