Frank Laureti initially launched Café Lighting to provide for his family. His love for the industry and the team he has built has turned the business into the success it is today.
Café Lighting started in 1995 as an importer of budget lamps supplying several major retail chains―it was all about high volume and low profit. However, as the market changed so did the company’s offering.
As the years progressed, in a response to the market, the company’s product offering evolved into several sub-brands that catered to various ends of the market―from budget to designer lighting, says Laureti.
“In 2004 we diversified into home decorator and steadily developed our product categories across lighting, furniture and homewares into what we are today―officially relaunching the brand Café Lighting & Living to better reflect our business,” he says.
As any other start-up, there were the challenges of cash flow, costings and understanding customers, however, for Laureti, with four young children his main challenge was trying to keep life in balance.
“My wife and I worked very long hours juggling all of the usual family and business pressures, with my dutiful fax machine residing on my bedside table. As is often the case when starting up a new business I wore many hats―buyer, salesman, inventory manager, bookkeeper, marketing, cleaner, forklift driver...the list goes on.”
Café Lighting is still a family business in a broader sense with the team they have built over the years becoming an extension of Laureti’s family. This keeps him inspired to continually review and develop the company’s strategies.
“The essence for successful wholesaling lies in keeping your customer happy. To do this you need to have a team that works in unison with no part being more important than the whole. Effective communication and relationships with reliable suppliers is also imperative.”
He says the average consumer has become more design-savvy thanks to reality TV shows like The Block and Selling Houses Australia and now, more than ever, shoppers have the confidence to explore their individual interior design style.
“We purposefully aim to be aspirational and offer products that would appeal to interior designers and the broader market alike― we merchandise emotionally. Whilst our designers are informed by market trends, when developing collections we tend to be quite eclectic with what we offer, not just sticking to one particular ‘look’.”
This uniqueness isn’t the only thing consumers are after. They also want high quality for the lowest price; this has always been the case and always will be. However, they also want the products to be ethical and sustainable while stylish and on-trend at the same time.
“Over the last five to 10 years we have seen the manufacture of composite materials, which offer the consumer quality products at lower price points, and have the added environmental benefit of little wastage.
“What this means for the market is that, where once you may have invested in a piece of expensive furniture and kept it for the next 30years, you can now afford to update your interiors more regularly.
“Keep an eye out for trends such as updated takes on British colonial, where tropical resort style living dominates. The Hamptons style has also been popular for some time and it seems to be here to stay for 2018. There is still a strong focus on authentic product finishes such as timber, metal, marble and stone, whilst a resurgence of classic detailing and finer finishes are definitely back on the radar.”