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From Home Furnishing Business

household Name Cindy Crawford

By Home Furnishings Business in Accessories on March 2007 Were you looking to get into furniture licensing when you started with Rooms To Go?

No, I was not looking into furniture licensing. I was kind of looking at licensing opportunities, but what happened is (Rooms To Go Founder) Jeff Seaman had read a story on Kathy Ireland and all the success she was having (in furniture licensing). A short time later, he was looking through a magazine at his mom€™s house and saw a picture of me from my Omega watches campaign. He put two and two together and got in touch with me. I wasn€™t familiar with Rooms To Go because it€™s only in the Southeast, so before I really wanted to get into discussions with them, I told them I needed to come and see a store. I went down to Dallas and checked it out. That trip made me very, very interested, and we moved forward from there.

What was your impression of Rooms To Go?

I think my initial concern was that if I want to put my name on a product, it should be something I really believe in. So, when I went, I was really impressed to see the quality, how well they put their stores together and how they present the products to the consumer in a way that€™s so easy (and affordable). I€™m from the Midwest, and my dad was an electrician. We rarely had new furniture, and if we did, my parents couldn€™t afford to buy a whole room at a time. But, when you go to Rooms To Go, you see how they make furniture accessible for people, and they also help with the coordinating of it. The prices were amazing to me, and, on top of that, you can get it the next day. Plus, it€™s all put together in a way that takes some of the guesswork out of decorating. I loved Jeff€™s whole concept.

With sales of more than $100 million a year, Cindy Crawford Home is one of of the most successful licensed collections in the industry. What do you think it is about the collections that have such appeal for Rooms To Go€™s customers?

After we decided to move forward, I had (Rooms To Go€™s team) come out to check out how I live and really, really talk about how Cindy Crawford Home is going to be different from just Rooms To Go. I guess their goal was to use my collection as a vehicle to reach a little bit€”to a little higher price point and better leathers. I€™m in a great situation because I€™m the luxe line within Rooms To Go. But, it€™s great product. That€™s why it€™s great partnering with Rooms To Go because in their areas, everyone is already familiar with them and they know what they stand for. And, then they know Cindy Crawford, and when you bring two brands together like that, it works very well.

We€™ve heard there are some large regional furniture retailers in areas outside Rooms To Go€™s trading areas that are going to start selling Cindy Crawford Home. How soon will that start?

With the success of the collections, other retailers became interested. So, fortunately, we€™re now able to become more of a national brand through working with these other retailers. We already have deals with several people, and you€™ll hear more about those in a couple of months. I€™m going to go for some of the (Cindy Crawford Home) launches over the next few months.

How involved were you in your own home décor before all this started?

I always traveled so much that my home was my sanctuary, even when I was a struggling young model in a dorm room. Even when I was in high school, I remember decorating my bedroom€”going out and choosing the wallpaper and everything. I always cared about my home, and I think that has just grown, especially now that I have a family, because you spend more time at home and we entertain at home more. I€™ve worked with a decorator on some projects, and on others not. My tastes have evolved, obviously, as we all do. My New York apartment looked much different from my home in Malibu where we live now. What I chose for my New York apartment that I had then is different from how I want to live in Malibu. We€™re very indoor-outdoor here. I also think having traveled pretty much everywhere and being fortunate enough to go into some incredible homes and museums, you can€™t help but be influenced by everything that you see. I think my taste is much more international now than it was when I was 20 years old in DeKalb, Ill.

Do you have a favorite sofa or chair and how and why is it your favorite?

I have a favorite room, I guess. In our house in Malibu we have a kitchen that is open to the family room and that€™s just the hub of family life, and we have a sofa that is very deep and wide and my husband and I and our two kids can get on it and everything gets done out of this room: homework and meals and watching the X Games or whatever we do. It€™s funny, the decorator I work with a lot, he always says that a room has to have a television, a bed, a refrigerator or a toilet in it for it to get used. There€™s a lot of truth to that because a lot of people have living rooms that they never use because there€™s nothing in there that really draws you in until you have company, and I don€™t want a house for company, I want a house that the family enjoys. It€™s great if your company enjoys it, too, but 90 percent of the time, it€™s just you and your family.

Do you have Rooms To Go furniture at your house?

Yes, we did a great denim sofa that I wanted to be like a favorite pair of jeans, but it€™s also great because I have kids and I never want to have to tell my kids, €˜Don€™t sit there€™ or have to worry about spills. Slipcovers are great because you can take them off and clean them. Also, some of the furniture we had designed for my house here we used as inspiration for part of my home collection, and I think the Rooms To Go versions are even better because I€™d lived with the (originals) long enough to know what the improvements should be. For example, we did some beds for my son€™s room that were designed to fit in the corner, and when we did a version for Rooms To Go, we added storage underneath. I€™m also concerned when we do children€™s furniture that there are no hard edges. I€™m very conscious of family life.

Most of the most successful licensed furniture collections are by former models such as you, Martha Stewart and Kathy Ireland. What is it about a modeling background that transfers so readily to furniture?

I really think it€™s about having had the opportunity of creating a brand. Really, my gosh, no one has done that better than Martha Stewart because €˜So Martha€™ has become a phrase everybody knows. I think modeling gives you an opportunity€”when you€™re consistent about the kinds of products you represent€”to create an image and a brand. That€™s something you can apply to other things when you combine it with an opportunity and desire to do that. With furniture, it€™s such an incredible business, and I really feel like I€™m taking grad school business classes, because I get to learn so much every day, and, I couldn€™t have a better teacher than Jeff Seaman.

What have been the biggest lessons you€™ve learned since the collections debuted two years ago?

It€™s that you just don€™t know what people are going to respond to. You make an educated guess, but some things work and some things don€™t. What I€™ve learned is that€™s why you always have other things in the works. In our first collection, there were some things that didn€™t work. Jeff told me in advance that is to be expected. There are always going to be a few things that just don€™t work, and that€™s the furniture business. So, you try to anticipate and you do things that you respond to and you feel good about. It€™s also fascinating to me how regional the furniture business is. What works in Florida may not work in Texas. The scale, the colors ... I just wouldn€™t have thought it would be so different, but the (sales) numbers prove me wrong.

There€™s a lot of variety in the collection. It ranges from soft modern to cottagey looks. What is it that ties all of Cindy Crawford Home together?

I think quality and value. You can€™t be everything to everyone, but I like a lot of different things, and I€™ve lived with a lot of different things. We€™re trying to build a vacation home right now, and we€™re doing it more modern. I appreciate all different types of designs. I don€™t want it to be so limited that it€™s like I€™m only this look or that look. How I choose to live in Malibu is a lot different from how I lived in New York. It really needs to feel good to you, but it also needs to suit the environment you€™re in.

Tell me about the move into accessories. Is that primarily for Rooms To Go or do you have other retailers in mind?

It will certainly be for Rooms To Go, but we€™re excited about being able to get into a lot of different distribution channels. For me, it€™s icing on the cake. These pieces help pull a collection together. We€™re already doing some of it within Rooms To Go, but I think these pieces really help round out the collection, so I€™m really excited about that.

As a designer, is it easier or more difficult to focus on the kinds of price points Rooms To Go is known for?

I don€™t really have to focus on the value side. I do what I like, and then I leave it up to those guys to figure out a way to do it in a way that makes sense for the price point. I worry about the style and I let our manufacturers worry about bringing it in for the right price. What€™s amazing to me is that you really don€™t have to compromise on the designs. As an example, I wanted the top drawers of our bedside tables lined with a velvet material because I just think that€™s nice, and it turned out to be something we could do easily.

You€™ve stepped back a little bit from modeling and entertainment, but has anybody ever told you you€™d be perfect for €œDancing With The Stars?€

It€™s funny you asked about €œDancing With The Stars€ because they asked me to do that for the first season, but I don€™t think I can make that long of a commitment. A friend of mine did it€”Lisa Rinna and her husband (Harry Hamlin). It was hard on their kids. I continue to work with Omega (watches). I€™ll get some modeling jobs, too. I just did something in New York for a fashion house. I€™m not used to working every single day. Since I€™ve had kids, I€™ve been able to arrange it so I work maybe two days a week and I can be home with the kids all day on the other three days. I like that balance. We€™re expanding, and we€™ve done a deal with Mohawk for rugs and are looking at other things, as well, but I don€™t want to go into the office five days a week. What would be the point if I can€™t enjoy my family? That€™s what it€™s all about.

How much do you enjoy the store events you€™ve done for Rooms To Go and will be doing for some of the other retail partners soon?

Well, they€™re great partners. We did a store opening in Naples in December, and we were worried because it was not great weather that morning, but we ended up getting a tremendous turnout. What€™s exciting for me€”and it€™s actually more exciting when I€™m in the stores unannounced€”is seeing people looking at the furniture that I helped create. I know they€™re not looking at it because it€™s mine. They like the sofa and then go, €œOh, it€™s a Cindy Crawford.€ I was in a store recently, and a lady was purchasing the denim sofa, and I walked over, and she realized it was me and said, €œI just love this sofa!€ That€™s really satisfying to me. A friend€™s sister lives in Florida, and I heard from my friend her sister had bought the whole Coconut Grove Collection for her new house. I just love hearing stories like that. It€™s exciting to me because I know they€™re getting great product, great guarantees and great style. HFB

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