Indeed, Clues has new collections coming out in 2019 which are currently in production, while the launch of the Valerie collection, which includes a range of sofas and chairs, has been a real winner this year.
“We also had great response to our Rib Cord collection, a modern take on the old corduroy fabric. Hard wearing and just divine to sit in, like being wrapped in a glove. We also introduced this collection and others with elements of stainless steel, which has helped modernise our classic Hamptons/French look. In the last year we have introduced a more contemporary look whilst retaining our Villa Maison DNA and this has helped us achieve a double digit growth in sales.”
As an importer, it’s important to be aware of current and future trends when looking for new products and ranges. Living in France for part of the year with her husband, Clues is at the forefront of what’s going on in the European market.
“There is a real trend back to warm colours, natural and recycled wood and classic designs with modern twists. The current islander or au natural trend will continue for the Australian coastal buyers including light coloured natural woods and fabrics. I also think velvet will continue to be strong.”
Of course, as one of the original rattan suppliers―specialising in mud soaked Slimit, using the original and best rattan varieties from Indonesia― she has also seen the renewed interest in this style over the last year or so.
“We have seen a higher demand for our products these last six months, and our challenge is to keep our designs and material on trend. The classic vintage grey rattan we supply is still in demand, but I have had to look for alternate materials, natural rattan and simple designs. I just love the grey vintage rattan, so this newer trend (or should I say an old trend relaunched) has been a challenge for me to change my thinking. Rattan, be it natural or grey is just a classic material to use in any styling interior and will continue to be so for many years to come.”
Clues adds that when looking for new products or ranges she looks for designs that she would love to have in her home, but she knows she also has to consider many other interior styles.
“So my collections must be flexible, allowing to complement other designs (and suppliers) to ensure our clients can create their own look,” she says.
“Villa Maison works with a lot of interior stylists and I always think about my collections based on how the stylists would work with them for their own clients.
“I continue to look for functionality and quality materials and production, I want my clients to enjoy our collections for many years to come without any issues.”
While known for its beautiful furniture pieces, Villa Maison will be reintroducing some homewares at the upcoming AGHA Sydney Gift Fair due to high demand.
Clues is looking forward to the relaunch, not least because most of the items come from India and France, two of her favourite countries.
“Most of our homewares will come out of India and France, two of the most special places for me, which means I get to travel more and enjoy these amazing cultures and work with my suppliers,” she enthuses.
“Our core collection will include some beautiful large wine/champagne coolers (Seau a Vin) with designs based on vintage and originals which I sourced in the markets of Provence. We will also be selling the originals that the copies were based on, as one off unique pieces.”
Clues top tips for retailers:
1. It goes without saying that you need to get your offer right. Find your path and stick to it, yet allow yourself to be flexible where needed. Easier said than done. For example, we have a new customer who has opened a classic Hampton’s focused store. It is a small space (although recently expanded) but the owner’s passion for all things Hamptons has seen some amazing results in a difficult market.
In one month, she sold 20 of our dog beds, no easy feat, but it shows what is possible. Your own path may also be your style, it does not have to be a classic decorating style.
2. Socialise like crazy, and I am not talking about going out with friends for a drink. Build your online presence through Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.
We have many customers who use only these tools for marketing purposes and have no website. If you are going to have a website for your business, make sure it is integrated, up to date and Business2Customer ready. In other words you need to invest in these areas. Use your store as the backdrop and promote events, offers, new arrivals and your cute dog or cat, it works and will get people buying.
3. Know your numbers including costs, margins, sales targets. I am always surprised when I speak to some retailers who are not on top of this. A passion for retail, design and decorating is not enough. In today’s market, global 100 year old companies can fail and go broke overnight, so keep an eye on the numbers, set a budget, plan to achieve it and do something about it when the sales are not on track.
4. I also see many clients come onto our trade stand, exhausted, overwhelmed and looking for a win. Take some time off whenever you can, refresh your batteries and generate some new ideas. Retail is really tough these days, only the fittest survive, and that is both financially and personally. Today’s retailer needs to be extremely energetic but that can only come from ensuring that you look after yourself.
Meet Villa Maison at stand DU12 at the upcoming AGHA Sydney Gift Fair at Sydney Olympic Park (23-26 February 2019). Entry is free for industry professionals. Visit sydneygift.com.au for more information and to find out how you can attend this trade event.