How the design trade Schumacher focuses on the consumer

Wallpaper is making a comeback in the world of interior design. After the market for wallpaper and wallcovering reached 1.7 billion in 2022

Appreciated for their ability to add texture, dimension and artistic sophistication to the home, more and more interior designers are incorporating wallpaper as a focal point in their designs. Designer Jennifer Hunter tells The spruce, “I love wallpaper in every room. It adds a dimension that you can’t get with color.”

The “Tiffany” wallpaper brand is Schumacher, founded in 1889 in New York City by Paris-born Frederic Schumacher. In those early days, she provided designs for the Waldorf Astoria and President Theodore Roosevelt’s White House. The company remains in the family of the fifth generation brothers Stephen and Andrew Puschel.

But if you take a closer look at the company, officially called F. Schumacher & Co (FS&C), it’s far more than just a wallpaper company, offering fabrics and trimmings under the Schumacher brand and flooring under the Patterson, Flynn & Martin and more brands .

For most of its history, the company has been rooted in the retail interior design market, hidden behind the walls of design hubs and not readily available to the public.

Now FS&C is breaking out of those rigid boundaries with new initiatives, including street boutiques, to reach the much broader, nearly $200 billion home decor market.

make a move

“There is a sizeable consumer market that cannot afford anything it wants, but it can afford anything it wants. These are the consumers who want private label without the help of a designer. That audience is far larger than those who can afford it all,” said Chris Ramey, founder of The Home Trust International, which curates artisanal luxury brands.

RH has long recognized the potential to make quality home design accessible. And more recently, more traditional retail brands, like Holly Hunt, Janus et Cie and Stark, are also taking a cue from it. With the opening of his Nashville boutique in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood and another in Paris, Schumacher is now joining other private label brands to expand their reach into the consumer market.

The boutiques are intended as spaces that serve both interior designers and consumers. “It’s a mix of showroom and retail boutique,” said Timur Yumusaklar, CEO of FS&C, in an interview. “We recognize the need to build better relationships with homeowners, so we offer them this space to explore and learn about our brand.”

The back of the store offers exclusive areas where designers can meet with customers and work on designs.

The front of the store is open to consumers where they can purchase unique home accessories and gifts such as candles, cushions, tableware, rugs, baskets, throws and art. The boutiques will also host events to strengthen the local community, including flower arranging classes, suitcase displays, book signings and interior design workshops.

The company is now eyeing four or five other locations, including Charlotte, Austin and New Orleans, based on the same criteria used to select Nashville.

It targets markets with a strong interior design community that attracts high-earning but not yet rich (HENRY) millennial homeowners with a passion for design. The company believes it can make a bigger impact in these smaller markets than in the usual suspects like Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston.

The street boutiques are one of many other initiatives brothers Puschel and Yumusaklar are taking to bring the company into the 21st century.

“Every company, regardless of category, needs to rethink their business model because the world is changing so rapidly,” added Ramey. And that’s exactly what FS&C has been doing since Yumusaklar joined the company in 2015.

“We describe ourselves 75% as a startup and 25% as a traditional company. There is a lot of energy, excitement and innovation at the company,” said Yumusaklar.

Change agent required

At first glance, Yumusaklar wasn’t a likely choice to lead an interior design brand, but that’s why he’s been so successful in reviving the brand and changing direction. He joined FS&C from Berlin-based e-commerce fashion retailer Zalando after six years as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group.

The company has quadrupled its sales since 2017, which he attributes to its focus on technology while maintaining its design heritage, quality and trust built over the past 130+ years.

“We need to offer our designers a top-notch online experience, which is what we do,” he said. “But there’s only so much a website, social media or technology can do. Our challenge was to build a lasting relationship with our audience and find new ways to reach and engage them.”

So the company launched an ad-supported glossy magazine called Frederick. With about 72,000 copies printed, it is small compared to other protection books, such as Architecture Digestbut retains the same high quality editorial and production values ​​and attracts many of the same advertisers.

“It’s about cultural energy. The magazine celebrates designers and the home and is a way to inspire designers and homeowners,” he said. And it has a big impact on the company. All ad slots have been sold since it launched in 2021, and ad revenue is expected to double by the end of this year.

reach further

Another initiative expanding the company’s product offering and reaching the consumer market is its acquisition of direct-to-consumer paint brand Backdrop in 2021.

Founded in 2018 by Natalie and Caleb Ebein, the company is described as the “new way to paint” and claims the title of the first Climate Neutral Certified paint brand that is Green Wise certified, low VOC and low odor.

Background paints are supplied in distinctive rectangular and recyclable paint cans, and the company offers 12″ x 12″ removable self-adhesive color swatches, not mini color swatches, to help customers choose from their range of over 50 colors.

And in addition to selling paint and all the necessary painting supplies, the site also offers a range of wallpaper and rugs designed by Backdrop.

Growing the interior design cake

FS&C has by no means abandoned its core interior design roots – it supports a designer network called Freddie to bring designers and homeowners together. But it sees its reach in the consumer market as a way to bolster the design industry overall and grow its own business organically.

“It’s all about building relationships with the homeowner. Everything we sell is unfinished until it is put indoors. So you buy fabric from us to make curtains, but then you need to know how to do it,” Yumusaklar said.

Designers can be the link between the company, its products and its brands, but now it doesn’t have to be constrained by them.

“It is crucial that homeowners realize how beautiful a home can be. And that doesn’t necessarily have to do with cost or price. It’s more about knowledge. Decorators are like magicians who can do magical things in a home. We help the design industry spread that message,” he concluded.

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