interior

How to Easily Break up Your Open Living Space

A relatively new trend in residential construction and design, the open floor plan started to catch on in the United States in the latter half of the 20th century. Prior to the 1950s, most American homes featured a much more divided layout dominated by smaller spaces and a main hallway connecting them. In this traditional floor plan, the kitchen was typically located in the rear of the home. This is because it was viewed as a utilitarian space that was off-limits to guests.

Today’s open-plan concept, which started growing in popularity around the 1990s, brought the kitchen into the center of the home alongside the dining room and living room. The merging of these three areas creates an open, casual living space that is great for entertaining and socializing as a family.

While an open floor plan comes with several advantages, it is certainly not without its drawbacks. In addition to largely eliminating private living spaces, an open layout can appear cluttered and be more difficult to keep clean.

Combining the kitchen, dining room, and living room into one shared space also leads to design challenges. Without physical separation, an open floor plan can look and feel a bit chaotic. Fortunately, creating clearly defined spaces can be quite simple with a little creativity and the right furniture and design elements. Here’s how to do it:

 

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Embrace Symmetry

When separating areas in an open-space layout, it’s wise to start by creating a balanced look using your largest furniture pieces. The classic living room design featuring two matching sofas facing each other is perfect for open floor plans because it uses symmetry to clearly define the space. Complementing the area with a large dining room table and matching chairs adds to the design while enhancing functionality.

Alongside the large furniture pieces, you can create even more symmetrical definition by adding matching chairs and paired-up accessories such as lamps, mirrors, and framed art. Be sure to avoid cluttering the area and don’t hinder the traffic flow from one living space to the next.

 

Use Rugs to Establish Conversation Spaces

In an open floor plan, rugs can be your best friend. In addition to complementing your layout, area rugs are the ideal solution for demarcating conversation spaces while also adding warmth and character to what could otherwise be a large, empty, and cold area. Rugs also guide foot traffic and create subtle visual boundaries that don’t interfere with eye-level design elements.

When using multiple rugs in an open living space, you can opt for matching pieces or go with a more eclectic layout by mixing colors, patterns, and textures. Don’t forget to carefully consider the look of your furniture and the overall design scheme of the room when deciding which rug(s) will work best in the space.

 

Choose Color Wisely

An open layout gives you the opportunity to use color in creative ways. Color can be used for two distinct purposes: to create a cohesive look or establish clearly defined spaces. If you’re looking to create definition with color, don’t be afraid to go bold with colorful accent walls, furniture, and accessories. You can tie everything together with a unifying neutral background that flows from one area to the next.

If you find it difficult to determine when to start and stop applying color, you can instead choose to keep all walls and architectural elements the same hue. Another option is the tone-on-tone approach. This enables you to add subtle contrasts while sticking with a coherent color palette.

furniture

 

Invest in Open Shelving and Room Dividers

Room dividers provide an easy solution for those who want to break up their open living area. While products such as folding screens and curtains can be used for this purpose, you can get creative without comprising the overall flow of the space. Consider using open shelving and other see-through storage solutions to define a room’s boundaries while preventing the area from feeling too closed in.

Other clever options include multipurpose partitions that double as a space for planters. For added texture and character, use see-through wooden partitions with striking geometric patterns. Whatever the style, it’s always a good idea to choose freestanding dividers that can be moved as needed.

 

Don’t Cut Corners

One of the best things about an open floor plan is that it gives you the option to divide the living area as you see fit. When delineating the space, don’t overlook the corners because they can be used in a variety of ways. If your great room’s current layout seems lacking, consider creating a cozy corner reading nook or perpendicular dining area.

A corner can also provide a small conversation space or study area. Even if your corners can’t be used for these purposes, try to get the most out of the space by adding shelves, artwork, or extra storage to often-overlooked corner areas.

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business

Traditional Marketing Actually Matters in the New Digital Age

While it’s important for today’s furniture retailers to market via social media and other digital channels, doing so should not come at the expense of traditional marketing efforts. Of course, most prospective customers are spending a significant amount of time online, but they are still reading the newspaper, watching television, and tuning into the radio. In fact, the average person spends 112 minutes each day listening to the radio and five hours each day in front of the TV. Also, while online and satellite radio services are increasingly popular, more than 90 percent of Americans still listen to AM/FM stations and all of the advertising they broadcast.

People are also exposed to visual advertising each day when they drive past billboards on their way to work and return home to find flyers and brochures in their mailboxes. It’s true that the ways people consume information have changed, but the types of advertising and promotion that worked prior to the digital age are still effective at spreading a brand’s message among potential customers. The fact that radio, television, and print media remain an integral part of most people’s daily routines is exactly why furniture retailers should continue to include these channels in their marketing campaigns. Read on to learn more about traditional marketing methods and find out how you can make them work for your business.

 

Traditional Marketing Channels for Furniture Retailers

Direct mail and printed ads—In a largely brick-and-mortar industry like furniture retail, direct mail can be very effective at generating sales. This is particularly true of small retailers that rely on local customers to remain in business. Flyers, brochures, and even postcards are especially useful for advertising in-store events and other special offers.

mail

Direct mail is also perfect for delivering coupons, which are great tools for getting customers into a store. In a recent survey of furniture shoppers, 70 percent of respondents said that a coupon or ad delivered to their mailbox had led them to take action on a purchase within the last year.

While the main goal of direct mail campaigns is to increase store traffic, they also work for retailers looking to simply boost their brand awareness. In fact, studies have shown that brand recall is much higher among those who received direct mailers as opposed to digital advertisements sent via email.

 

Outdoor advertising—Falling under the category of out-of-home (OOH) advertising, billboards are common, hard-to-miss sights along highways and freeways across the United States. Like direct mail, billboards are strongly effective at promoting brand recall among those who notice them, and they are great tools for advertising sales, new product lines, and store grand openings.

Advancements in digital technology have led to billboards with giant LED screens that bring an advertising message to life using vivid colors and eye-catching movement. It’s also important to note that OOH advertising isn’t limited to billboards. To promote their store, furniture retailers can also use smaller signage on bus benches, public transport, and vehicles.

 

Radio and TV spots—Although radio and television advertisements are more expensive than other traditional marketing channels, they are also among the most effective. Retailers on a budget may want to forgo the TV commercials and opt instead for a radio ad, which is a more affordable option that still has the ability to reach a large number of people. While the exact figure varies among industries, radio advertisements have the ability to generate up to $17 in revenue for every dollar spent on the ad.

Despite the expense, the main benefit of advertising on television is that it gives retailers the ability to use sight, sound, and motion to showcase their products while attaching personality to their business. Consumers also trust TV commercials more than other forms of advertising, which is great for retailers looking to build credibility in their community.

 

Tips to Consider

Now that you know about the traditional marketing channels available to furniture retailers, how can you use them to spread your business’ message? Here are a few quick tips for creating an effective advertising campaign:

post office

 

  1. Target the right audience.

For direct mail campaigns, it’s important for retailers to understand their customer demographics and find ways to target those who will most likely come into their stores. Tools like the U.S. Post Office’s Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) program can be helpful in accomplishing this goal.

 

  1. Run multiple advertisements.

Whether it’s in a newspaper, on the radio, or on TV, a single advertisement alone isn’t very effective at attracting new customers. Running different ads simultaneously in several formats or running the same ad for an extended period will do a better job of boosting business awareness.

 

  1. Be creative.

Just because they’re labeled “traditional” doesn’t mean that billboard, print, radio, and TV ads should hold back on the creativity. Advertisements with eye-catching logos and designs, and well-crafted photos, videos, and ad copy will attract more attention and potentially more business.

 

  1. Reach out to the community.

Along with using creativity in the content of their advertisements, furniture retailers should be creative in the other ways they communicate their brand locally. Donating products for local contests and raffles or sponsoring sports teams, community groups, and/or events offers retailers the opportunity to fulfill marketing objectives while showing potential customers they are committed to their community.

pinterest

What You Should Know about Using Pinterest for Social Marketing

In the world of retail marketing, visual content is just as important as written content. In fact, it’s often more important. This is particularly true for product categories such as furniture. Next to the fashion and beauty industries, few areas of retail rely more on visual presentation to connect with consumers than home furnishings.

Within brick-and-mortar furniture stores, retailers use thoughtful visual merchandising to highlight each product’s best features and demonstrate how customers can use the items on the showroom floor in their own living spaces. Outside of physical stores, furniture retailers leverage visual advertising to draw customers into their shops. Despite the fact that many furniture retailers understand the important role that visual presentation plays in their advertising efforts, many are missing a great opportunity to spread their message even further through social media.

While almost all social media platforms support photo and video posts, few are as visually focused as Pinterest. And now that many consumers are actively using Pinterest to search for products and ideas, all furniture retailers should be thinking of ways to reach out to potential customers via the platform. Those who do so will find that Pinterest can be an ideal tool for showcasing their product offerings.

 

pinterest

 

Why Furniture Retailers Should Take Pinterest Seriously

Within the last several years, Pinterest has become one of the largest and fastest-growing social networks. The platform has over 200 million active monthly users. The visual nature of Pinterest has made it the go-to network for users to share and discover new interests. Through new features such as visual search and in-app purchases, the platform is also quickly becoming a preferred shopping tool for many social media users, including a large number of millennials who are on Pinterest more than any other age group. According to recent statistics, Pinterest is the top shopping platform among millennials. Over 55 percent of all Pinterest users turn to the site to buy various items.

Even those who do not use the platform to directly buy products use it to plan purchases. In fact, a recent study found that 93 percent of people in the Pinterest community have used “pins” to plan purchases, and 87 percent reported that Pinterest pins have played a major role when they made purchasing decisions. What’s important for furniture retailers to note is that among the various topics available to browse on Pinterest, home decor is one of the most popular. People are now on Pinterest to not only find decorating and design ideas, but to also browse for and buy home decor products, including furniture.

 

Tips for Using Pinterest as a Marketing Tool

The good news for furniture retailers who are just getting started on Pinterest is that the platform is very easy to use. It has many of the same sharing and community-engagement features of other social networks. However, marketing on Pinterest requires a somewhat different approach than on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Following are few tips for retailers to consider.

 

  • Create a visual experience.

Anyone who has been on Pinterest knows that it is full of visual content. Furniture brands and retailers looking to make a marketing impact on the platform should focus on creating a visual experience with pins containing high-quality product photos. In addition to photos of the products themselves, it is also a good idea to pin “lifestyle” pictures that show products in a naturalistic home decor setting. These types of photos will also help users to find product photos via Pinterest’s visual search function, which supports approximately 600 million visual searches each month.

 

  • Don’t forget about searchable keywords.

Unlike other social media platforms, Pinterest is a powerful search engine that handles more than 2 billion searches on a monthly basis. A large number of Pinterest users even prefer the platform to traditional search engines such as Google. With so many people using the network to search for products and ideas, it’s critical for retailers to include keyword-focused pin descriptions alongside their product photos. Searchable descriptions should include trending keywords related to the featured product’s style and design, material, and/or function. It’s still important, however, to keep descriptions short and let the photos speak for themselves.

 

  • Use Pinterest’s specialized pins.

Pinterest offers several solutions for retailers to promote their products and drive traffic to their store website. The solutions include Promoted Pins, which are essentially paid Pinterest advertisements. According to Pinterest, over 60 percent of users have discovered new products or made purchases after seeing a Promoted Pin. Additionally, Pinterest reports that over 70 percent of users have said that Promoted Pins and other business content make the platform more helpful. Along with promoted advertising, retailers can take advantage of Rich Pins, which provide more context about a product, and Buyable Pins, which enable users to purchase products directly through the Pinterest page.

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.

chairs

 

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.

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.

speech

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.

sideboard

8 Tips for Putting Your Sideboard to Good Use

A sideboard, also known as a buffet, is a long, low-profile storage and service piece that first began appearing in homes during the late 18th century. The earliest versions were based on a design by Scottish architect and furniture maker Robert Adam, and they were primarily used in the dining room to serve platters of food and to store cutlery, napkins, dishes, and other table items. While they still have their place in the dining room, these versatile pieces of furniture are essential storage solutions that can be found in nearly every room of a home. Whether you already have one—or several—or you are simply considering if it’s the right piece for your needs, check out the following eight tips to learn how to put a sideboard to good use.

 

  1. Keep It in the Dining Room

If you entertain often or gather regularly for family meals, a sideboard is definitely a piece of furniture you’ll want to use in your kitchen or dining room. Here, you can use it to store silver cutlery, fine china, tablecloths, candleholders, and just about anything else you’ll need to host a fabulous dinner party for your friends and family. The sideboard surface is also ideal for serving both hot and cold foods. However, you may want to invest in a natural stone or tempered glass top to protect it from burns, spills, and scratches.

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  1. Make It the Focal Point of Your Family Room

Outside of the dining area, the first place that many people use a sideboard is in their family room. Due to its long and narrow shape, a sideboard works great as a design piece for holding lamps and vases. It also works perfectly as a media center that can hold a TV, speakers, game console, and other essentials, while keeping cords, wires, CDs, and DVDs out of sight in the drawers and cabinets below.

 

  1. Use It to Create a Cleaner Workspace

Those who work from home or maintain a separate area for paying bills or helping their children with homework can use a sideboard to keep clutter from overtaking their workspace. If you’re tired of files, stacks of paper, and odds and ends such as paper clips and boxes of staples taking over your desk, a sideboard can be the perfect solution. It also provides a convenient space for a printer, scanner, and other office gadgets.

 

  1. Give Your Hallway a Boost

Tight spaces such as hallways and entryways can be difficult to furnish. However, it’s often nice to have a spot in these areas to hold items such as your keys, hats, gloves, and lamps and extra storage space for things that don’t get much use around your home. If your hallway is wide enough, consider investing in a sideboard to add some extra style and functionality to the space.

 

  1. Create a Cocktail Bar or Entertainment Area

In addition to serving food, a sideboard can be easily converted into a casual bar for instant entertaining. Use the surface for bottles, ice, and garnishes, as well as to keep mixers, tumblers, trays, and glasses stored safely in the cabinets below. Be sure to store glasses on a non-skid liner, and if you want to add an extra touch, consider investing in a suspended storage unit to hang stemware above the sideboard surface.

 

  1. Break Up An Open Living Area

While an open design concept can work great for many families, it can sometimes be difficult to define multiple spaces. Along with providing a spot for both functional and decorative items, the long and low sideboard can be just the piece you need to show where one living area ends and another one begins. The sideboard is particularly well-suited to sit behind a “floating” couch in an area that combines a living room and eating area.

 

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  1. Display Your Collections

If you collect knickknacks, pottery, small art pieces, or other decorative items, a sideboard may provide the perfect spot to display them. You can simply arrange them on the surface or find a sideboard with glass cabinet doors that give you the ability to show off your collection without having to worry about anything getting broken. A sideboard can also be used below your favorite painting or photograph to ensure that it stands out among other items in a room.

 

  1. Create Extra Storage

As functional as they are stylish, sideboards can be used for extra storage in any room of your home. Consider putting one in a playroom or multiple-use area to keep toys, books, art supplies, and other children’s items neatly tucked away. You can also bring a sideboard into a bedroom to provide extra storage for clothes, blankets, and linens. With their sleek design and narrow profile, sideboards can be particularly helpful for those who need to stay organized in a condominium, apartment, or small home.

living room

Here’s How to Refresh the Look of Your Living Room

For many people, the living room is the heart of the home. Whether you live in a one-bedroom apartment or a sprawling ranch house, the living room is where you relax, entertain guests, and spend time with family. Of course, a space that sees this much activity is prone to a lot of wear and tear and can quickly lose its fresh look. Fortunately, updating the design and functionality of your living room doesn’t have to be an overly complicated task. When it’s time to put some life back into your family’s living space, you can do the following to make it as stylish as it is comfortable:

 

Don’t Be Afraid of Color.

While neutral tones such as gray, tan, and white still have their place throughout the home, more people are getting braver with their choice of living room colors. To join the trend favoring moody interiors, consider painting your walls with a rich violet, navy, or emerald green.

 

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Many people worry about darker colors making a room feel smaller, but this won’t happen if you use them correctly. The ever-popular accent wall still provides an easy way to inject some color without shrinking the space. Another way to refresh the look of your living room is to employ multiple shades at a time and then tie them together with furniture and accessories.

 

Add Texture and Natural Elements.

Along with rich and/or unexpected color themes, multiple textures and textiles are growing in popularity. Leather and suede are both making a comeback, but velvet is particularly on trend. The soft, luxurious fabric is well-suited for sofas and chairs, but it also works as an elegant drapery. Consider using it alongside a stylish leather chair or ottoman to add some warmth to your living space.

To bring some additional warmth into your home, don’t shy away from accessorizing with rich wood pieces and other natural design elements. If you’ve opted for a modern look, using wood in the space can keep it from becoming too cold and impersonal. A high-quality wood coffee table is always a good choice in a living room, but you could also choose to make a bolder statement by brightening up the space with a wooden wall treatment. Add some indoor plants throughout the room to complement the natural look and bring a little nature inside.

 

Get Organized.

With the amount of traffic your living room sees, it’s important to keep the space organized and uncluttered. Corner sofas remain a popular furniture option because they are convenient space savers that work well in many different room configurations. With a spot for books, magazines, toys, and remote controls, modern coffee tables, ottomans, and end tables that feature drawers and other storage areas also provide an easy way to cut down on clutter while maintaining a stylish look. Don’t forget about the long-loved entertainment center, which can provide extra storage along with serving as a central location for your television and other electronics.

 

Look Up and Down.

When updating your living room, it’s important to look beyond the walls and furniture. While they aren’t necessarily the focal point in most rooms, your floor and ceiling give you the opportunity to brighten up the space in an unexpected way. A recent trend toward statement rugs and carpets is becoming more popular in the world of interior design. This look involves embracing bold patterns and colors and asymmetrical design elements for your living room floor coverings.

 

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In addition to bold floors, wild ceilings are a growing trend. If you’re looking to try something different in your living room, turn your attention upward and add some paint or wallpaper to your ceiling. You can also add texture, wood paneling, or geometric patterns for a three-dimensional look.

 

Embrace Metallic Finishes.

For the last several years, metallic finishes have been omnipresent in interior design, and it appears that this trend isn’t likely to go away any time soon. Particularly fashionable right now are satin gold and brushed brass, which both work well on everything from lamps to end tables. The best thing about metal design elements is that you don’t need much of them to make a statement. Simply adding some new hardware to an existing cabinet or bureau can go a long way toward freshening up your space.

 

Brighten Up Your Lighting.

Regardless of how much work you put into improving the look of your living room, it won’t be noticeable without the proper lighting. Be sure to take advantage of natural light and don’t skimp on the artificial light sources, either. Throughout the room, add table and floor lamps to provide task lighting where it is needed. Also, consider adding wall-mounted lighting for artwork, and try using illuminating accessories to highlight accent walls and other design features.

While enhancing your living room lighting, don’t forget about the fixtures. Make a statement with pendant lights or a sculptural chandelier. If you’re on a budget, you could simply bring one or two eye-catching lamps or lampshades into the space. As with the rest of the room’s design, it’s all about finding something that works well with your own unique style.

New York

What to Expect at the NY NOW Summer 2018 Market

NYNowMarketTwice a year, thousands of attendees gather in New York City for the NY NOW Market, a leading trade show for professionals in the gift, lifestyle, and home furnishings industries. The event features more than 2,300 exhibiting companies and tens of thousands of design-driven products all under one roof. In addition to spotlighting great products, the multiday convention includes an educational program comprising insightful seminars, presentations, and discussions by top designers, retail experts, and home and lifestyle industry executives.

In 2018, the NY NOW Summer Market will take place August 12-15 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Drawing on over nine decades of success, the event promises to offer an exciting experience for retailers, buyers, and design tastemakers looking for the latest products from both established and emerging brands. Keep reading for a closer look at what’s happening during this industry-leading trade show in New York City.

 

Products, Products, and More Products

One of the main reasons that over 20,000 people from around the world attend the NY NOW Summer Market is to see the latest home, lifestyle, gift, and handmade products on display. With four levels of showroom space to explore, attendees at the 2018 event will have more than enough to see during the four days of programming. Exhibitors at the show will feature thousands of lines across a wide range of product categories, including gourmet housewares and kitchenware, home textiles, garden and outdoor, decorative accessories, and, of course, home furnishings.

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Although tens of thousands of products will be on display during the summer 2018 edition of NY NOW, event organizers have carefully coordinated the market layout to make it easy for attendees to find the specific products for their business. Each level of the Javits Center will feature separately curated collections in three broad categories: home, lifestyle, and handmade. While exploring each collection, attendees will have the opportunity to speak with hundreds of exhibitors and product designers.

Furniture retailers and other home furnishings professionals will want to focus their attention on level three of the Javits Center to find the latest in interior furnishings and decor. The Home Collection of NY NOW features three sections, including an area dedicated to home furnishings and textiles. In addition to hundreds of furniture pieces for indoor and outdoor living, the section will showcase the latest floor coverings, wall décor, and bedding products. The section will also include displays of lighting, pillows, and other decorative accessories.

 

Ample Learning Opportunities

Along with seemingly endless displays of products and services, the NY NOW Market offers attendees plenty of opportunities to learn how to advance their careers and improve their businesses. At the 2018 Summer Market, learning opportunities will feature a robust seminar program with sessions on a variety of business-related topics, including e-mail marketing, social media, sales goals, and merchandising. Other seminars will focus on buyer behavior, brand building, SEO, and influencer marketing.

Another highlight of the 2018 educational programming will be a specialty series called Retail Minded @ NY NOW. New for 2018, the four-part series of sessions will be led by Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, a retail expert who founded the well-respected industry website RetailMinded.com. During the Retail Minded series, Reyhle and other guest speakers will offer retail survival tips and discuss topics such as in-store technology, online reviews, and marketing on a budget.

 

Networking and Social Activities 

For many repeat attendees, NY NOW is all about connecting with businesses and other professionals in their field. Event organizers understand this, and they do their best to provide a variety of structured and casual ways for attendees to engage with each other and exhibiting companies.

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Each day of NY NOW includes networking coffee hours in the morning and happy hours in the evening. The event also includes networking lounges as well as live music, giveaways, and other fun activities. In addition to the on-site networking, attendees at the NY NOW 2018 Summer Market will have the opportunity to join their peers for a performance of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical on Broadway.

 

Book Signings and Industry Insights

Those hoping to meet innovative designers and business leaders will certainly not be disappointed by the lineup of speakers at the 2018 summer edition of NY NOW. Alongside the seminar programming, the event will include book signings and the special Trend Talks series, which will provide insight into the latest retail, design, and merchandising trends.

The free Trend Talks series will feature presentations from Bonnie Mackay, a retail design and merchandising executive; Wesley Moon, an interior designer; and Paula Flynn, founder of The Shopkeepers website. The list of authors who will deliver trend talks and be on hand for book signings afterward includes Justina Blakeney, author of The New Bohemians: Cool & Collected Homes and The New Bohemians Handbook: Come Home To Good Vibes, and Nicole Feliciano, author of Mom Boss: Balancing Entrepreneurship, Kids & Success. More information about speakers, exhibitors, and activities at the NY NOW 2018 Summer Market is available at www.nynow.com.