The Shade Store Creative Director, Ian Gibbs, Shares History Of Family-Owned Fabric Company In Exclusive Interview
What began as a local dressmaker shop in 1946 in Mount Vernon, N.Y., The Shade Store, has become one of America's most sought-after custom window treatment businesses today.
(Photo : Courtesy of The Shade Store)
Since the beginning, the family-owned company is dedicated to expert craftsmanship and is rooted in traditional design techniques. The Shade Store has grown to support hundreds of specialized artisans around the U.S. who handcraft each of the brand's window treatments and, as a result, designs are featured in over 40 showrooms across the country.
We had the opportunity to interview The Shade Store co-founder and creative director, Ian Gibbs. Scroll down to hear more about the heritage of the brand and its plans for the future.
MB: Could you describe the early years of the company?
IG: Our roots trace back to 1946 when my grandfather and his brother started a retail textile business in Mount Vernon, NY. The company began as a dressmaker shop and evolved into a sought-after couture window treatment company for design trade and affluent homeowners.
MB: The Shade Store has evolved from a small fabric shop to a specialized vertical offering handcrafted, customized window treatments, but what is something about the company that has remained the same since 1946?
IG: When the current generation came into adulthood - my two brothers, our cousin and myself - we looked at the family business and turned the model on its head with the objective of modernizing the way consumers shop for custom window treatments 'making custom simple' for consumers. While the ordering portion of the business has changed with our website and 40+ showrooms nationwide (nearly 50 by the end of the year), the craftsmanship has not. In the beginning we were just a small shop and we now support hundreds of skilled American artisans who are handcrafting each of their custom window treatments in workrooms across the country. By specializing in a category that can be difficult to understand, The Shade Store has been able to grow a bustling business both online and throughout the US - providing access to expertise previously held only by industry insiders.
MB: Define the company culture in three words.
IG: Collaborative. Entrepreneurial. Innovative
MB: Who are the clients of The Shade Store? What do you believe it is about your product that intrigues people? What keeps them loyal?
IG: The Shade Store uniquely services both the design trade and consumers. Through our partnership with Kravet, we're able to bring fabrics from designers like Jeffrey Alan Marks, Jonathan Adler and Diane von Furstenberg to the consumer audience, who otherwise would not have access to these materials.
Our showroom approach also allows us to better serve the consumer audience. Customers can walk into a showroom and work with a trained design consultant who can guide them through an otherwise confusing process. Our showrooms feature product displays and swatches of every material we offer, so guests can actually interact with the product directly and take home as many free swatches as they need. Window treatments aren't something that are replaced often, so we want our customers to be able to test how a material can live in a space before fully committing to treatments.
MB: How does The Shade Store differentiate from other window treatment companies?
IG: We differentiate ourselves from other companies in many ways, but the biggest factor is our customer service. All of our products are hung and tested for quality assurance and ship for free in 10 days or less without comprising our top-notch quality. We also employ a network of measure and install professionals around the country so that the entire process, from order to install, is seamless. We take pride in offering the best service and for those who have questions, our website has a live chat feature in addition to a call center where our experts are standing by and ready to assist.
MB: What is something people may not know about The Shade Store?
IG: Many people may not be aware of our commitment to the environment. We actually offer over 85 eco-friendly materials for Solar Shades and over 280 eco-friendly materials for Roller Shades. We also started 'The Gift of Shade' program with the Arbor Day Foundation, where we plant one tree in our national forests for every order placed. Since our partnership began in 2011, more than 100,000 trees have been planted.
MB: What continues to inspire the brand?
IG: From a design perspective, our partnerships and collaborations are constant source of inspiration. We are always looking to add new designs and materials to our product offerings to give our customers as many options as possible. Most recently, we collaborated with The Novogratz on a line of new materials that featured bold colors and fun patterns. It was something completely new for The Shade Store and was great for the brand. We also have many more exciting partnerships launching this fall.
MB: What can we expect from The Shade Store in the future?
IG: The Shade Store has some really exciting fabric partnerships coming up at the end of the summer including kate spade new York for Kravet and Sunbrella. We are also launching The Shade Store shop-in-shops in 8 Kravet showrooms in major cities across the US and are planning to open 10 new showrooms before the end of the year.