Navigating Change, With a Passion For Giving: Up Close with Leah Feizy of Feizy Rugs
In my last several posts, I've discussed the changes that the furniture and home furnishings industries have seen over the last decade. Many of you have told me your views about what is driving these changes: globalization, management decisions, licensing and business deals, and other factors people have mentioned.
Everyone's perspective is different. That's why I'm thrilled to introduce you to someone in particular who has been through it all. Leah Feizy has been with her family-owned Feizy Rugs business for well over a decade, and held many positions within the business to help Feizy navigate challenges and opportunities. Having met with her at Market last month, I had the chance to ask her about her experience in our industry. A snapshot of our conversation is below. What are your thoughts on the trends she describes? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leah, you've been in so many different roles at Feizy Rugs. How does that help you with your job today?
Well, I started writing collection copy and building catalog pages, and wound my way through different positions in marketing and in finance. My current title is Executive Vice President, and I'm responsible for inventory, advertising and marketing, customer service, and HR.
That path has proved to be valuable. In today's competitive market, it is helpful to understand many different parts of the business. I need to keep track of not just what Feizy is doing but also all the changes in the market with strategic partners and competition. For example, as I saw at Market, there are many more new kinds of business deals, like licensing agreements where products are sold under another name. My marketing hat helps me understand why companies are doing deals like this, and helps me plan how Feizy will keep making sure buyers and customers know what we have to offer.
What have you been seeing?
Consumers today are buying rugs, home furnishings and furniture with style in mind. They're not just looking at a rug and thinking, "This is a finely crafted, beautiful piece." They're associating it with colors and trends and they're considering buying rugs from a broader range of stores. The mass market shops have seasonal colors in the same way that a clothing store like Gap does. It's a much different way of thinking about our products.
What about the rug business specifically? How has that changed in the last ten to fifteen years?
Since I started in 1999, we've witnessed a major shift in the types of rugs that are available, and all of the innovation has made our industry more exciting and more challenging in ways. It's getting more difficult to find really fine, hand knotted pieces that can be programmed because weavers can produce tufted, hand loomed and the more inexpensive hand knotted qualities much more quickly. When I started, programmed rugs were just really starting to take hold. Now, as I just mentioned, rugs are more about fashion than about investing in a work of art.
It's the season of giving, and you've mentioned that charitable giving is important to Feizy. Tell us about the charitable partnership Feizy has.
Yes, it is important. Our business is an international one and we want to support the communities abroad that are part of our business. That's one of the reasons why we actively support the Global Fund for Children, which finds and invests in community-based groups worldwide to transform the lives of children on the edges of society, including trafficked children, refugees, child laborers, and helps them regain their rights and reach their potential.
We're actually running a big drive to coincide with Thanksgiving. Our goal is to have contributed $40,000 to GFC by the end of a 12-month period. Beginning with the April High Point Market, we started donating a percentage of all market orders to GFC. We're almost there. To help our push, from November 18 to 29, we will donate $1 for every "like" on the Feizy Rugs Facebook page. So I hope people will check out our Facebook page and "like" us to support a good cause.
Looking ahead, you've seen a lot. Do you have any advice for others in our business as they plan for next year?
Really stay in touch with your customers and vendors. It's so important to build and maintain relationships. Keep reaching out and asking for feedback from clients. Pick up the phone and tell your suppliers what you need, what works for your business, and what doesn't. That's a piece of this company that I really love. We really emphasize relationships both internally and with our customers, and I think it's a big part of why we've been around for 40 years.
My other die-hard belief is that you should never sacrifice quality. We have made so many strides in manufacturing that it's not necessary to do so. As Benjamin Franklin said, "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten."
Thanks so much, Leah. Happy Thanksgiving, and we wish you continued success.
Thank you, too. We're proud to be part of this industry and thank everyone for their support.
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