EA's Fresh Colors draw fans
Thomas Russell -- Furniture Today, September 2, 2013
DANBURY, Conn. - Ethan Allen says it's using its domestic production capabilities to reach a wider audience seeking fashionable looks and custom fabrics and finishes.
Launched this spring, Fresh Colors is a youth furniture line that offers 15 mixable colors spread across 100 SKUs. The line also offers upholstered seating and chairs as well as home accents, bedding, draperies, mirrors and area rugs that complement the color options.
The company launched the program due largely to the success of its American Colors program introduced last fall. The finishes include turquoise, sunflower yellow, geranium red and apple green.
"The response to the bold colors presented in our American Colors program last fall was overwhelming, and we knew we wanted to offer this for kids and teens as well," said November Rawlings, company spokesperson. "We felt people were really craving the inspiration and the design tools that would help them add a bit of fun to their homes."
Rawlings said the company launched Fresh Colors to expand its Gen X reach.
"And one of the best ways to do that is through their children," Rawlings said, noting that as part of the lineup, the company has made some of its bestselling adult beds available in twin and full sizes for its younger clients.
The company rolled out the program to its 200-plus stores and officials said consumer response has been strong.
"More and more consumers are now interested in color, so color is becoming important," said Farooq Kathwari, company chairman and CEO.
Much of the product is made in its U.S. workshops, including a case goods plant in Pine Valley, N.C., and two upholstery plants in Maiden, N.C.
The case goods production in particular was formerly geared towards larger cuttings. But in recent years, the operation has transitioned to a model geared to special orders.
"We spent the last couple of years completing the transformation of our manufacturing in North America to custom manufacturing," Kathwari said. "Now we have 29 different colors we offer in our case goods. Four years back it would have been impossible because we would have had 29 different inventories."
Even with its special order capability, the proximity to the market allows goods to get to customers more quickly. Today, for example, the company ships 90% of the product made in its U.S. plants in less than four weeks, Kathwari said.
"That is an important thing," he said. "To be able to offer all kinds of options and deliver with great timing and at a good value, all of that is part of the package."
The added emphasis on customization, he said, has resulted in a shift in attitudes among workers and management.
"Our workers in North Carolina, they know every item they are making is for an individual," Kathwari said. "When they know they are making it for an individual it becomes a different attitude from our management to our associates."
He said the shift also required training at the retail level on how to communicate the message to consumers, through salespeople and designers.
The company also markets the concept through catalogs and direct mail and in-store advertising as well as on its website and through social media.
Rawlings said Ethan Allen also has produced two national TV spots for the program, one geared towards children and one aimed at teens.
"We see color everywhere today - from the landscapes of America to the fashion runways all over the world," Rawlings said. "Because we are already in the custom business and make each piece just for our client, this is just an extension of what we already offer. Now our clients have even more ways to make any look their own."