Closet Boutique - Serving the high-end market
By Ann Gurley Rogers | 10/12/2006 12:00:00 AM
Serving the high-end market
A successful Florida closet company expands into the very high-end market with a new company and catalog line sold through dealers.By Ann Gurley Rogers
For the past 18 years, Nancy Oliver Valleley, owner of Closets by Nancy in Coral Springs, FL, has provided satisfied customers across the world with elegant high-end closets, always on the lookout for extra touches.
"I'm constantly researching what's new that can be added to our line, from the latest hardware and finishing techniques to the latest style trends," she says. "Closets have evolved from dark spaces utilizing white or almond melamine to wonderfully inviting spaces rich in wood, with elegant touches that are now regularly on the 'cook's tour' offered by proud owners.
To meet the ever-increasing demand for high-end, all-wood closets, she decided to launch a second enterprise dedicated to that niche a little more than two years ago. Called "Closet Boutique Inc.," the new company offers what Valleley calls the "Designer Series" as a wholesale distributorship. Also headquartered in Coral Springs, the company has clients in a variety of places, including the Bahamas, Las Vegas, New Orleans, South Beach (Miami), Atlanta, Reno, Santa Barbara and the Cayman Islands.
The Designer Series is a catalog line, featuring all-wood closets with dovetail drawer boxes and bottom-mount, full-extension, self-closing slides. Each piece in the closet line is of the highest quality, Valleley says.
"When I find a piece of hardware that would improve on that formula, I incorporate it into our designs," she says.
The line uses striking woods, such as cherry, mahogany, maple and teak, and further enhances the look of the space by adding crown mouldings, rosettes, fluted columns and other decorative touches to create stunning closets. "We can build anything out of wood that you desire, subject only to the availability of the wood," Valleley says.
"Beauty is a focus that underlines the function of a closet. We seek to maximize space use and organize a client's wardrobe while creating just the right ambiance," she adds. She says that she wants her clients to start and end their busy days in elegant surroundings. Each closet is designed to coordinate with the decor of the entire room. Prices for her closets range from $400 to $1,000 a linear foot, retail.
"I advertise in magazines like Home & Design and Florida Design, which people pick up in airports when they are traveling," she says. "My ad gets the attention of those who are in the market for a high-end closet and have been unable to find anybody locally who can produce the look and quality they want."
Tapping into a growing niche
Valleley says that she realized the demand for high-end all-wood closets was growing rapidly, and that she was selling more and more designs to clients who also wanted high-end wall units, entertainment centers, libraries, wine rooms and home offices. In order to meet that market, she decided to collaborate with Steve Thurlow, who has 18 years experience in high-end custom kitchen cabinet design, to develop a catalog line. The result was the birth of the Designer Series catalog.
Closet Boutique's closets are produced by a cabinet manufacturing company in Honey Book, PA, which is owned and operated by Mennonite and Amish craftsmen. "I settled on this company because it employs excellent artisans and people whom I can trust," Valleley says. "Their hard work and custom finishes are the highest quality I have ever seen."
Closet Boutique is seeking to expand its dealer network. Valleley says she thinks that some people in the custom closet industry are missing the boat by not positioning themselves to service high-end clients. As a general rule, she speculates that the majority of high-end customers can be found either in large urban areas or upscale resort areas.
She also believes that in order to be successful in reaching the high end of the market, custom closet manufacturers should feel confident and comfortable dealing with a clientele that has the money and style to want a high-end product.
"People who are successful in this market also must have an impeccable reputation for detail and follow-through," Valleley adds. Closet Boutique's support services for distributors include a training program designed to teach ways to turn a standard closet into a custom closet, product knowledge, value engineering and pricing. Dealers can participate in national advertising campaigns and take advantage of prepared ad-slicks.
Recently, Valleley shared her expertise with attendees at the Closets and Home Organization Conference, co-sponsored by CLOSETS and held in Dallas, TX, March 16. She and Thurlow were workshop speakers.
"Events like this one and CLOSETS magazine are proving to be a marvelous benefit for the closet industry," Valleley says.
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