By Allison Zisko
After making inroads in the hospitality segment for the past six years, Venus Home is targeting the upscale textiles market, a move made possible by the recent acquisition of the Candice Olson bath license.
This program encompasses bath towels, shower curtains, bath rugs and accessories featuring Olson’s sophisticated yet accessible designs. It “allows Venus to present itself better to upper-end retailers,” said Shiv Shankaran, general manager. “We’re trying to step it up now.”
The company is privately owned by brothers Kirit and Raj Patel. Kirit serves as president and chief executive officer, while Raj is chief financial officer and vice president. Since its founding in 1972, Venus has been an institutional textiles importer, manufacturing its goods in India. In 2002, it added hotels and resorts to its roster, along with some opening price point items to mid-tier retailers.
The Candice Olson collection is expected to open new retail channels of distribution for Venus, while enhancing its manufacturing capabilities, Shankaran said. In addition to its factory in the southern part of India, a new plant was recently constructed near Mumbai specifically to produce better-quality goods. “We want to give value addition to our products,” Shankaran said.
The Candice Olson collection, which ships to one exclusive retailer in February 2009 and to additional retailers next fall, includes two solid-color towel lines in different sizes and weights, and with different dobbies; at least five jacquards; coordinating bath rugs; several shower curtain styles; and accessories that can coordinate or stand alone.
“She has a modern, eclectic approach to design,” Shankaran said of Olson. “It’s something the consumer relates to right away.” Her designs make it easy to visualize a room and implement a design, he added.
The collection reflects the types of products Olson features on her popular HGTV television show, “Divine Design with Candice Olson.” One heavyweight shower curtain is quilted, with a circular design that coordinates with sculpted towels and rugs. Another curtain has a pinch-pleated border and other dressmaker details, shaded with an ombre effect in three colorways, again echoing designs in other bath products. There is a subtle matte gold metallic curtain (“poly dupioni”) that has a flocked bottom and, for a more casual look, a cotton duck curtain with flocked dots resembling a leopard print. Accessories such as toothbrush holders and wastebaskets mix materials such as metals and wood, and typically have a surprise “bling” element for added shimmer.
Prices for the line range from $9.99 and $12.99 for the bath towels to $39 for certain shower curtains and bath accessories.
Venus has also partnered with Milliken & Co. on an anti-microbial sheet called Visa Endurance. A finish developed by Milliken makes the sheet resistant to bacteria and stains. It also wicks away moisture. The finish lasts for the life of the sheet and has been tested for 200 washes, Shankaran said. Co-branded with the Venus and Milliken names, it will retail for approximately $89.99 for a queen set.
Response to these new products at the New York Home Fashions Market in September was encouraging, Shankaran said. “Customers saw [that] Venus [is going] in a new direction and is focused now.”
The company has also brought on a new sales team, based at its American headquarters in Foothill Ranch, Calif. Keith Leal, who previously worked at textile importer Pem America, serves as vice president of sales and marketing. Leal reports to Raj Patel. Ryan Nicholson and Lor.Raine Samuels are vice presidents of sales, reporting to Leal; both previously worked at Britannica Home Fashions. Larry Martineau, is vice president of sales and marketing for beach items. He reports to Leal. Cynthia Lerner is corporate design director. Lerner, previously with WestPoint Home, reports to Raj Patel.