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Meet The Tastemaker

An Interview with Karen Howes on 'Think Big, Shop Small'

Supporting the industry's creativity, together

Jonathan Holmes By Jonathan HolmesFounder & CEO

Channeling the same concern for small and independent brands and artisans as our Think Big, Shop Small campaign, interior design studio Taylor Howes has launched another initiative—Keep Creativity Going—to empower the industry’s irreplaceable creatives.

“Taylor Howes has always been known for championing Great British craft and now, more than ever, we want to profile some of the small in size, but not in talent, artisans, craftspeople and suppliers who we work with, who with little spotlight and small followings, face the potential to slip away during this time,” the brand said on the launch of its campaign Keep Creativity Going.

Heathfield Lighting | Think Big, Shop Small | LuxDeco.com | Keep Creativity Going | Taylor Howes | Shop luxury furniture and accessories on LuxDeco.com

Image Credit: Richard Brendan

The campaign has so far shone a spotlight on the incredible hand-painted wallpapers of Diane Hill, the fine mural art of Croxford and Saunders and the uniquely beaded, embellished designs of textile artist Lily Adele van Lennep. Not to mention boosted our spirits and those of the design community at large.

I recently chatted to Taylor Howes’ Karen Howes about our common interest—supporting the design community in any way we can.

Karen: Jonathan, it seems we're all thinking the same thing at the moment—how can we support our design community, particularly those small and independent brands, during this difficult time.

Jonathan: Absolutely. As you've so brilliantly addressed with Keep Creativity Going, there's a real threat to our friends in the industry right now, especially those smaller brands and artisans. It really is a time for the community to rally together.

Karen: I could not agree more. I think it is so important for larger brands to support smaller brands at this point in time and this unprecedented event offers a unique opportunity for people within the interior industry to rally together and support one another, something I believe both our initiatives are encouraging people to do. Tell us a little bit about why you decided to launch 'Think Big, Shop Small'.

Jonathan: As you said, it's a difficult time for many in the industry, and we recognise our position and, frankly, our responsibility, having the platform that we do, to help where we can.

Since LuxDeco’s focus is to bring the world’s finest design brands to an international audience through e-commerce, we have the privilege of working with lots of brands, and we're invested in their success so when this hit, we really felt for them.

Many of our brands are small and independent brands and artisans—much like the ones you're featuring in Keep Creativity Going—and they may not necessarily have the reserves to withstand the supply and demand shocks that the outbreak of COVID-19 has triggered. A lot of them create made-to-order pieces and, unless the orders are coming in, they don't have work, meaning they might not be able to sustain themselves if this lasts longer than we hope. A lot have been forced to close their bricks and mortar stores, and some just don't have the e-commerce or digital marketing resources to aid them during what is clearly an unprecedented time.

‘Think Big, Shop Small’ is designed to bring these brilliant small brands and artisans to the attention of our customers and to provide them with the exposure, resources and tools they need in order to prevail. This and other initiatives like your Keep Creativity Going are essential to them right now.

Karen: I think so many people do not understand the complex processes that come when they order goods online. With technology there is a sense of ‘click and collect’ which I feel really removes people from the actual work that it takes to manufacture and distribute their goods. I think a campaign such as the initiative you are running really will make people stop and actually think about the supplier who is making their product, on a more empathetic level.

In order to understand your campaign better can you tell us how 'Think Big, Shop Small' works?

Diane James | Think Big, Shop Small | LuxDeco.com | Keep Creativity Going | Taylor Howes | Shop luxury furniture and accessories on LuxDeco.com

Image Credit: Diane James

Jonathan: We've highlighted a few areas of support which our brands need. The first is simply extra exposure. If they don't get that, there's a chance that they will go unnoticed and their sales will suffer. LuxDeco has doubled its marketing and advertising spend for the next 30 days and we're dedicating the increased spend to the exclusive promotion of smaller brands. We're also offering a 10% discount on these brands' products at our expense to incentivise purchase.

The second is fast track on-boarding. We've thrown out our buying plan for now and instead we're prioritising these small, independent design brands and artisans. We're uploading their products to our site as fast as we possibly can.

The third is warehousing and logistical support. That has become even more difficult for small, independent brands so this is really key. Whilst our drivers are still delivering using our safe, no-contact delivery, we're providing free warehousing opportunities and offering indefinite storage facilities of any purchases whose deliveries are being held up because of the current situation.

We hope that this removes any potential barrier to purchase for these brands. Lastly, we've created fully designed and customisable marketing assets—store window signage, email marketing templates and the like—that will direct the brands' customers to LuxDeco.com where their products are still available.

Karen: It is great to see the holistic view you at LuxDeco have taken in creating this initiative, from marketing to distribution. You launched the campaign less than a week ago. How has it been going so far?

Jonathan: We're pleased to say that the first week is going really well, which is reassuring. We hope it continues. It's still early days, but we're in conversation to support 10 new brands, and our small and independent brands and artisans have had 126% more product views and a 342% week on week uplift in sales. We're thrilled for them all, and hope that this will be a great boost to their sales.

Domkapa Furniture | Think Big, Shop Small | LuxDeco.com | Keep Creativity Going | Taylor Howes | Shop luxury furniture and accessories on LuxDeco.com

Image Credit: Domkapa

Karen: It seems just like our Keep Creativity Going campaign. Smaller brands have jumped at the opportunity for the extra exposure and support that ‘Think Big Shop Small’ offers them. What feedback have you had from the wider design industry on your side for 'Think Big, Shop Small'?

Jonathan: We've been thrilled with the response we've had so far. The feedback has been really positive. Lots of our followers, brands and social media influencers have been sharing on their social channels, and they're more than happy to support the endeavour. I think we're all keen to do what we can, and share good news where we can.

We've also had the support of leading interior designers and influencers who have created exclusive edits using products from brands featured in 'Think Big, Shop Small' which is really exciting. We have edits from Jean-Louis Deniot, Laura Hammett, Sophie Paterson, Philip Vergeylen of Paolo Moschino for Nicholas Haslam, Lisa Adams of LA Closet Design, social influencer Kerstin Smolcic of Luxmumma, and, of course, Taylor Howes!

Karen: I think the interior designer edit idea was a great idea as it allows interior designers to connect and discover smaller suppliers who they previously would not have come into contact with. It also allows all the different interior design studios to express their creativity and different design aesthetics and shows their commitment in supporting smaller suppliers, as well as the desire to keep designing during this difficult time.

Richard Brendan glassware | Think Big, Shop Small | LuxDeco.com | Keep Creativity Going | Taylor Howes | Shop luxury furniture and accessories on LuxDeco.com

Image Credit: Richard Brendan

This is something our initiative Keep Creativity Going aims to do, to get people to express their creativity in a supportive way, and I think LuxDeco as a platform with your ‘Think Big Shop Small’ campaign is the perfect catalyst in getting interior design studios to think in this way. I know Jane Landino—our Creative and Design Head of Studio—put the Taylor Howes edit together and she really enjoyed the experience and has already made note of the suppliers we would love to work with moving forward.

Jonathan: It looks great! We were so happy to have you involved so quick off the bat.

William Yeoward Cushions | Think Big, Shop Small | LuxDeco.com | Keep Creativity Going | Taylor Howes | Shop luxury furniture and accessories on LuxDeco.com

Image Credit: William Yeoward

Karen: Thank you, Jonathan. It was great to hear more about this exciting initiative, and I also want to thank you and the team at LuxDeco in supporting our initiative Keep Creativity Going. Let’s hope that both our initiatives achieve what they have set out to do in championing smaller brands and uniting the interior design industry during this difficult time.

Jonathan: Of course. Thank you for having me. Good luck with Keep Creativity Going. Let us know if we can do anything to help.