Independent Design Brands Are Forging Ahead With Planned Product Launches

Interior Define's new Chesterfield Sofa.

One of Interior Define’s new tables, seen next to its Chesterfield sofa.

Photo: Courtesy of Interior Define

To be sure, makers have not only migrated to virtual launches, but have also carefully evaluated questions of tone and appropriateness. “With everyone social distancing and stuck at home, we’ve had a lot of people reach out who want to paint their own spaces,” Portola Paints cofounder Jamie Davis explains of last week’s release. First the company asked its five designer-collaborators, whom it had tapped to create social media mood boards for the launch, to assess their comfort levels with posting this content right now. “Many conversations focused on the excitement to move forward and share design inspiration with social media followers,” he says.

So far, customers are responding as hoped. “I think our followers really appreciate the reprieve from scary and negative content and like to see companies supporting other small brands and designers during this tough time,” Davis says. St. Frank founder Christina Bryant, who last week debuted three new candle fragrances as well as an online design consultancy, observes, “We’ve been really excited by the demand for our styling services. It’s a timely launch and allows us to connect with our customers in a really intimate way—virtually in their homes—while we’re otherwise isolated. Despite stores being our primary sales channel for candles, we’ve been delighted to see strong demand for our candles online, as well.”

Expect to see more product launches during the new stay-at-home reality. As part of a long-running initiative to amp up its lighting stock, Workstead will quadruple its launch schedule in 2020, using digital communications to get the word out; its plans include the introduction next week of Canopy, an enamel and brass sconce. For product debuts originally timed to NYCxDesign, Calico Wallpaper is pursuing digital announcements and storytelling instead.

Perhaps speaking on behalf of the whole design community, Okin reasons: “Ultimately, we are hopeful that in choosing to continue to launch the collection virtually, we can bring a little happiness to those at home, and also help other small businesses create a path forward for their own product launches in these uncharted waters.”

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