By David Gill
The launch of the Umbra collection of soft window treatments, which occurred during the March New York Home Fashions Market, confirmed that Peking Handicraft has become a significant player in branded home textiles.
Umbra is the third of the three key licensed brands now offered by the San Francisco-based textiles vendor. The others, Trina Turk and MaryJane’s Home, debuted at last September’s New York Home Fashions Market, and also received huge play in Peking Handicraft’s New York showroom during the March market.
The company also has products under licenses with a long list of designers: Amy Brazil, D.L.
Rhein, Kate McRostie and Mary Lake Thompson are among the multitude of designers now creating Peking Handicraft products.
The Trina Turk, MaryJane’s Home and Umbra presentations marked a huge step in Peking Handicraft’s progression as a soft-home resource, according to CEO Mark Grand. The company “has grown significantly in the last several years based primarily on our partnership with the most important retailers on their owned brands,” Grand said. “We can continue this growth organically for the next several years, but when strategizing where we would go next, we looked at new product categories and licensing brands.”
In making the decision to take the branded route, the company had in mind a particular kind of license. “We made the decision to find the right licenses that are both small enough to get our arms around, but large enough to be a meaningful business,” Grand said.
Peking Handicraft formulated the agreement with Turk two years ago. A designer of apparel and swimwear noted for casual fashion in distinctive colors, Turk has had her own design company in Los Angeles since 1995.
For Peking Handicraft, Turk’s designs are found on bed ensembles and decorative pillows. “We felt her looks gave us opportunities in bedding,” Grand said. “We have developed a niche business with Trina’s very colorful and distinctive designs.” Introduced at last fall’s New York Home Fashions Market, the Trina Turk collection has made its way to upper-end department stores and regional department stores, Grand said.
MaryJane’s Home is the line stemming from Peking Handicraft’s license with MaryJane’s Farm, the supplier of organic products in a variety of categories based in Moscow, Idaho. Owned and operated by MaryJane Butters, the farm has become a gathering place for consumers of all things organic, from food to apparel and, now, textiles. Parts of the MaryJane’s Farm business include a magazine, books, gifts and a “Farmgirl Sisterhood” on its website, maryjanesfarm.org, which encompasses blogs and chat rooms.
Befitting the lifestyle promoted by the organization, the MaryJane’s Home line, which includes bedding and decorative pillows, features more traditional looks in the cottage style, including quilted designs. “The quilted looks mesh very well with our core competency,” Grand said, noting that Peking Handicraft has been a manufacturer of quilted items in bedding, decorative pillows and other categories for decades.
Grand added that he has gotten commitments on the MaryJane’s Home line from upper-end catalogs and Internet retailers, and has opened discussions with brick-and-mortar department stores.
The Umbra line is the result of a license agreement with the well-known Canadian designer of home furnishings. The window treatments’ design plays off the brand’s decorative window hardware, which, while reaching for a casual and modern high-end look, is meant to be affordable. “We felt that a soft-window collection, if they had some of those signature design elements, would resonate with the customer in the same way as the hardware,” Grand said.
To that end, Peking Handicraft geared the Umbra line specifically toward retailers that already carry other Umbra home products. “We were very pleased with the response to our first line,” Grand said. “We will be shipping the Umbra brand of soft window coverings to two of our three targeted accounts … and we are working hard to finalize with the third.”
All three brands have gone a long way toward meeting Peking Handicraft’s objectives in growing its business. Trina Turk and MaryJane’s Home “are very productive for us and our customers, and have both demonstrated strength at retail,” Grand said. “Umbra provides us with the ability to grow through new product categories and licenses, especially since our window business has shown dramatic growth in recent years.”