Month: September 2018

Your Easy How-to Guide for Protecting Your Patio Furniture

Unless you live in a locale that offers warm year-round temperatures, there inevitably comes a time when you have to retreat to the indoors after enjoying your outdoor living areas throughout the spring and summer months.

More and more people today are bringing the indoors outside with the help of modern and stylish patio furniture and accessories from retailers like Ashley HomeStore. These quality products are durable and built for the outdoors. However, there are still several actions you can take to keep them looking their best season after season.

Take some extra time now to prepare your outdoor furniture for the snow and cold winter weather. Doing so means your chairs, tables, sofas, and accessories will be ready for you when the temperature starts to rise once again. Keep reading to learn what to do to prep your outdoor furniture for winter time.

 

How to Get Started

Before you do anything else, it’s a good idea to start the winter-prep process by organizing and cleaning your outdoor living areas. Put away anything you’re not using and clear some space on your patio or deck so that you can give your furniture a good cleaning. Furniture pieces that are left dirty over the winter can be very difficult to clean later. They may even become damaged from mold or mildew growth.

You can avoid these issues by spraying your furniture with a hose and scrubbing down any stubborn spots. A mild solution of dish soap and water is typically safe to use on most materials. However, you should be sure to check with your furniture’s manufacturer for specific instructions. Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned everything, let it all air dry in the sun before moving on to the next steps.

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Protecting Materials against Moisture and Cold Temperatures

Although manufacturers design most outdoor furniture pieces to be weather-resistant, they may feature paints, stains, and protective coatings that can degrade over time. If these layers of protection start to fail, your furniture can become vulnerable to damage from harsh weather conditions. Here are some tips for protecting outdoor furniture materials from the elements:

 

Metal

Aluminum and wrought iron are two of the most common metals used in outdoor furniture. You can periodically apply a coat of automobile wax to extend the life of the protective coatings on both these metals. If you see any scratches or rust, gently brush or sand the area and apply a rust-inhibitive paint to keep the damage from spreading.

 

Wood

Even treated or rot-resistant wood won’t last forever. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that help ensure that your pieces look good and remain functional for many years. Like a wood deck, outdoor wood tables and chairs need to be treated with a water-repellant stain every other year or so. This protects against cracking and eventual failure. If you want your wood furniture to maintain its color, you’ll also want to regularly apply a new coat of paint after the original begins to fade.

 

Plastic

Plastic furniture is generally easier to care for than metal or wood pieces because it doesn’t absorb water. It is prone to cracking in cold temperatures, however. For this reason, most manufacturers recommend that you either cover or move plastic furniture indoors during the winter months.

 

Cushions and Fabrics

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Staining is the most common issue that you’ll have to deal with on your outdoor cushions and upholstery. Keeping these items clean may require more than one washing a season. It’s also important to make any necessary repairs to holes and ripped seams. In most cases, it’s best to store your outdoor cushions indoors or somewhere under cover when they aren’t being used.

 

Don’t Forget about the Accessories

In addition to outdoor furniture sets and individual pieces, you likely have at least a few accessories that you’ll need to prepare for the winter. Like pillows and cushions, umbrellas will need to be cleaned with mild soap and water. Your umbrella may also need to be repaired from time to time. As long as it is collapsed, a patio umbrella can withstand some harsh weather conditions. However, you’ll definitely want to put it away before the snow starts to fall.

Don’t forget about other items you may have in your yard, including hammocks. If you have a cotton hammock hanging somewhere outside, it’s especially important to bring it indoors because the fall and winter weather will likely ruin it. Hammocks made of synthetic materials are more durable than cotton hammocks, but they are also prone to damage. It’s probably best to just to take them inside during the colder months.

 

Cover and Store

Cleaning and maintaining your patio furniture will go a long way toward protecting it. However, the best protection comes when your furniture is properly covered and/or stored away from the elements. If possible, put your pieces away in a shed or garage under cover to protect them from dust and mildew.

If you don’t have the storage space, just do your best to properly cover furniture with commercial furniture covers or even a waterproof tarp secured with a rope or bungee cord. Remember, any extra protection you can add will help ensure that your outdoor furniture lasts as long as possible.

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furniture

Here Are the Top Colors and Designs in Furniture Upholstery

As a key component of interior spaces, furniture plays an important role in the overall design scheme of a home. Staying on-trend requires stylish furniture pieces that can make a statement while fitting in seamlessly with the latest “hot” interior looks.

Unlike more affordable accessories such as pillows and drapes, however, furniture is a semi-permanent interior fixture that isn’t swapped out according to the season. The long-lasting nature of quality furniture requires designers and manufacturers to walk a fine line in order to blend timeless style with trending colors, patterns, and materials.

Industry leaders do this through the use of upholstery, which often reflects the trending looks that are showing up throughout the home. So, what are the latest trends driving upholstery and interior textile design? Keep reading for an overview of the new looks that are likely to stick around.

 

Welcome the Return of Color

furniture

Throughout the 90s and well into the 2000s, a preference for subdued colors dominated the home furnishings and interior design industries. This meant beiges and other neutral tones were the top choices for chair, sofa, and ottoman coverings. For the past several years, however, color has been making a strong comeback, and it’s now poised to become a lasting trend. Some of the top color choices for furniture include:

Deep blues. While blue in general has made a comeback, the most popular blue for furniture and other design elements is navy. Navy can act as a strong neutral for adding contrast and richness to pastels, whites, and other light colors. Navy also looks great when tastefully paired with other deep blues, such as sapphire and the bluish-green petrol.

Vibrant greens. Like dark blue hues, a stylish green tone can also act as striking neutral alongside a variety of colors. The list of greens that are finding their way onto sofas and chairs include emerald, kale, and other nature-inspired shades. Another top choice for green upholstery is teal, which works surprisingly well next to everything from red and blue to yellow and orange.

Subdued pinks. In recent years, pink has become more of a gender-neutral color than it once was. This is inspiring more people to embrace pinkish hues within the home. One of 2017’s hottest colors was “millennial pink,” a very light shade that remains a popular choice for furniture and other interior design elements. Other pinks to look out for include subtle blushes, striking fuchsias, and eye-catching berry tones.

Rich yellows and golds. Typically used to provide bold accents, bright yellows and metallic-inspired golds are beginning to show up more on a variety of furniture pieces. Rich mustard hues are also on-trend. Many designers today are even pairing yellow-based furniture with pink and terracotta colors to create an earthy combo within the home.

 

Embracing Plush Velvet and Performance Fabrics

velvet

In line with a trend that embraces luxury and glamour, velvet has become a very popular upholstery choice. Whether it’s used as a furniture accent or complete covering, this plush fabric can add a touch of elegance to both formal and more relaxed living areas.

The velvet trend has been gaining momentum for the last several years, but it is now becoming mainstream thanks in large part to advances in fabric technology. Unlike its predecessors, today’s velvet is both soft and plush while also remaining stain-, fade-, and abrasion-resistant. The fabric is also available in a wide range of colors and patterns, so it can be incorporated into a variety of design schemes.

Along with welcoming velvet, more consumers are showing an interest in stylish, durable performance fabrics. Like velvet, these synthetic upholstery choices have also improved significantly in terms of style, comfort, and functionality.

Manufacturers have even begun to create more textural performance fabrics. These choices provide a distinctive look and feel while also adding durability and performance qualities to both indoor and outdoor furnishings. In recent years, the demand for performance fabric has led to significant growth in this area of the market, which is projected to reach almost $80 billion by 2020.

 

Back-to-Nature Prints and Varied Textures

floral pattern

Florals and other nature-inspired patterns have always had a place in home decor. However, they are becoming more popular as an increasing number of people move away from the long-standing minimalist design aesthetic.

Along with bold colors and luxurious fabrics, a trend toward maximalist interior themes is leading furniture manufacturers to incorporate detailed patterns into their designs. Tropical themes, animal prints, and bird motifs are all on-trend. Tribal looks and oversized floral patterns are also popular.

The move away from minimalism is also sparking greater demand for textural home furnishings. Everything from weaving and ruffles to rugged ruching and looped embroidery effects are helping furniture designers create fresh looks for cushions and pillows.

Also, while large, plump cushions are trending in living room furniture, many consumers are opting for the vintage-inspired textured look of sofas featuring distinct button and channel tufting.

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Your Complete Guide to the 2018 NEXT Conference

NEXTlogoThe time has come again for furniture retailers and other industry professionals to gather at the NEXT Conference, a three-day interactive forum focused on marketing, technology, and business strategies that can help them to earn repeat customers. The 2018 event will take place from September 24-26 at Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater in Austin, Texas. In addition to prominent speakers in the area of retail, marketing, and consumer relations, the 2018 NEXT Conference will feature a range of educational sessions and networking events to help attendees enhance their professional knowledge and skills while making new connections with others in the retail industry. If you plan to attend, read on to learn how to prepare and what to expect when you get there.

How to Register

Registration for the 2018 NEXT Conference is a simple process. Retailers, manufacturers, suppliers, and other prospective attendees can visit Next.PBMConferences.com and click on the “Register Now” button on the home page. Doing so will take you to a registration page where you will enter personal information, including your name, address, and job title, before paying any applicable registration fees. Alternatively, you can choose to register on-site from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the opening day of the event. Registration rates range from $499 for retailers to $999 for manufacturers, suppliers, and other attendees.

 

Where to Stay and How to Get Around

NEXT Conference organizers have reserved a block of hotel rooms for attendees at Hotel Van Zandt, which is located only minutes from the conference venue. Rooms start at $239 per night and can be booked through the NEXT Conference website or by calling the hotel directly. Of course, attendees also have the option to stay at one of the many other hotels in the Austin area.

Moody Theater

Image courtesy Todd Dwyer | Flickr

Those flying into Austin will likely arrive at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS). At AUS, attendees can pick up a rental car, take the Super Shuttle, or hire a taxi to travel to their hotel or the conference venue, which is located approximately 10 miles away from AUS. Transportation services will not be provided during the event, so attendees will have to walk, rent a car, hire a service, or take public transportation to travel between their hotel and The Moody Theater.

 

Lineup of Speakers

Each year, the NEXT Conference features a lineup of prominent speakers with diverse backgrounds in marketing and advertising, retail sales, and business leadership. Over a dozen big-name speakers will speak at this year’s conference, including Gay Gaddis, Steve Dennis, and Phil Gwoke.

A Texas-based marketing executive, keynote speaker Gay Gaddis oversees The Think Tank (T3), which she launched in 1989 after cashing in a $16,000 IRA. Gaddis, who has worked with some of the country’s top companies, will take the stage at the NEXT Conference to discuss how attendees can harness their personal power to make their own way in business.

Opening speaker Steve Dennis is the president of SageBerry Consulting. Before assuming his current position, Steve Dennis served as the chief strategy officer and head of multichannel marketing for the Neiman Marcus Group. He has used his extensive experience to write and speak on retail innovation. His presentation at the 2018 NEXT Conference will focus on helping attendees to stay fresh in today’s retail environment.

On the morning of September 25, Phil Gwoke will address the NEXT audience. Gwoke, a former high school teacher and small business owner, is a respected expert in generational intelligence. He will leverage his expertise to discuss the four generations that comprise today’s retail market and provide insight into how salespeople can be successful in reaching each age group.

In addition to gaining insights from the three featured speakers, attendees at the 2018 NEXT Conference will have an opportunity to learn from a number of other marketers and retail leaders, including Jasmine Jaco, Casey Miller, Tim McLain, and Shrenik Sadalgi. Bill McLoughlin and Catherine Silver from Furniture Today will also present at the event.

 

What Attendees Can Expect to Learn at the NEXT Conference

Beyond the presentations on personal power, retail innovation, and generational demographics, NEXT attendees will learn how to harness creative marketing and modern tools to drive the growth of their companies. Conference sessions will focus on how retailers can create compelling stories to promote products and brands while reaching new customers through technology and experiential merchandising. Speaker Seth Weisblatt will also discuss how attendees can use social media, data mining, and other digital marketing tools to stand out from their competitors.

 

Opportunities for Networking and Socializing

Outside of the educational programming, attendees will have an opportunity to socialize and establish new professional connections during several networking activities. The conference will include daily networking breaks, as well as special events such as luncheons and cocktail parties. On September 25, Catherine Silver, the vice president of the parent company of Furniture Today, will host a ceremony recognizing the winners of the Impact Mentorship Award and the Impact Innovator Awards. Before traveling back home, attendees can also take part in networking excursions throughout Austin on the morning of September 26. More information about all the activities at the 2018 NEXT Conference is available at Next.PBMConferences.com.

business

9 of the Most Successful Entrepreneurs Who Started with Little Money

A recent study conducted by Harvard Business School found that 50 percent of all new businesses in the United States fail within the first five years, and over 70 percent of companies never make it to their 10th anniversary. While these statistics are quite discouraging, they didn’t prevent the most successful entrepreneurs from launching their own enterprises with nothing more than a good idea, a commitment to hard work, and a strong motivation to succeed.

Some of these entrepreneurs have become well-known public figures, while others remain relatively unheard of, but they all prove that it is possible for anyone to attain success in today’s competitive business environment. The following is a look at 9 successful entrepreneurs who launched businesses with very little money:

 

  1. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Image courtesy Andrea Omizzolo | Flickr

Now a household name, Steve Jobs cofounded Apple Computers with Steve Wozniak in 1976 using $1,350 the two college dropouts made by selling some personal items. This initial investment quickly grew to $200 million thanks to sales of the user-friendly Apple II computer. Driven by Jobs’ later innovations, including the iMac, iPod, iPad, and iPhone, Apple is currently valued at an astonishing $1 trillion.

 

  1. Henry Ford

Anyone growing up in the United States is likely quite familiar with Henry Ford. The father of the assembly line, he launched the Ford Motor Company in 1903 using cash supplied mostly by relatives and friends of Alexander V. Malcomson, an early investor in Ford’s designs. In addition to streamlining the auto-manufacturing process, Ford was known for treating his employees very well. His high wages attracted reliable workers and helped him take his company to the top of the automobile industry.

 

  1. John Pemberton

John Pemberton

Image courtesy justiny8s | Flickr

The founder of one of the world’s most iconic brands, John Pemberton created Coca-Cola based on a non-alcoholic version of his French Wine Coca nerve tonic. The Georgia pharmacist developed the soda-fountain drink with little financial backing and initially sold the product for a mere 5 cents a gallon. Although Pemberton died before Coca-Cola really took off, his invention would go on to become a globally recognized product.

 

  1. Roxanne Quimby and Burt Shavitz

Although this entry technically counts as two entrepreneurs, they are listed together because they are both responsible for creating the successful Burt’s Bees line of personal care products. Using Quimby’s creativity and leftover wax from Shavitz’ honey business, the couple began creating and selling homemade candles. With $200 made during their first craft fair, they launched a candle-making operation that made $20,000 in its first year. After adding other products, most notably lip balm, Burt’s Bees became a very successful company. In 2007, Clorox acquired the brand for $925 million.

 

  1. Sam Walton

Initially the owner of several Ben Franklin franchises, Sam Walton took out a loan from his father-in-law to open his first store in Newport, Arkansas, in the mid-1940s. The location’s success allowed him to quickly pay back the loan, and he was soon operating stores in two additional states. During his early career, Walton established the retail practices that would come to define Walmart, which he launched in the early 1960s. Today, Walmart brings in over $500 billion in annual revenue and employs 2.3 million people worldwide.

 

  1. Daymond John

FUBU founder Daymond John launched his business empire selling handmade wool hats on a street corner in Queens. His first batch of hats netted John $800 and encouraged him to continue pursuing the endeavor. Later, John’s mother mortgaged her home to finance his pursuits, and he began to expand his line to include hip-hop-inspired T-shirts, sportswear, and accessories. To date, FUBU has generated over $6 billion in retail sales. Daymond John is worth an estimated $300 million.

 

  1. Sophia Amoruso

Sophia Amoruso

Image courtesy TechCrunch | Flickr

Not your typical entrepreneurial success story, Sophia Amoruso never intended to launch a business. At 22, she started an eBay store that grew into the Nasty Gal clothing brand. Amoruso eventually stepped down as CEO of Nasty Gal, which at its height was worth $350 million. She currently leads Girlboss, a community and media company that supports the endeavors of working women.

 

  1. David Packard and William Redington Hewlett

Another two-for-one entry on this list, William (Bill) Redington Hewlett and David Packard met each other while studying engineering at Stanford University in the early 1930s. Encouraged by a Stanford professor, the pair used a $500 loan and a second-hand drill press to launch Hewlett Packard from a small garage in Palo Alto. The two men developed a wide range of innovative tech products over the years and helped give rise to what became known as Silicon Valley. The garage where Hewlett and Packard started their business is now a California Historic Landmark, and Hewlett Packard is worth approximately $27.4 billion.

 

  1. Kevin Plank

Although Kevin Plank grew up in a prominent Maryland family, his success as an entrepreneur stemmed from his own hard work and determination. As a student at the University of Maryland, he launched Cupid’s Valentine, a company that sold roses on Valentine’s Day. With the $17,000 he made from the venture, Plank developed and started selling the first products that would make up his Under Armour brand. Today, Under Armour generates close to $5 billion in annual revenue.