One of the fun opportunities that has come from blogging over the last 8 years is getting to partner with amazing companies. I have seen companies double their sales by word-of-mouth marketing through bloggers. It is affirming and incredible when companies understand influence and want to partner with us. One of the best companies I have gotten the privilege of working with for the last 3 years in various aspects is La-Z-Boy.
(La-Z-Boy Headquarters, Monroe, MI)
(Pieces to the first chair La-Z-Boy offered as a company)
2 1/2 years ago was my first encounter with La-Z-Boy when they invited me to their first Design Dash that took place in High Point, North Carolina. This event coincides with the High Point Furniture Market which happens twice a year and is a major event for those in the home furniture industry. 10 bloggers basically were issued “white room challenge” where we designed a La-Z-Boy sofa and used their decorative pieces from their full line of home furnishings. Here was mine. It has been, by far, my favorite brand event I went on.
This year La-Z-Boy has continued their marketing efforts with bloggers (see this year’s Design Dash and participants here) and have given me a chance to sneak behind the curtain to see all that goes into building and designing furniture. And let me tell you, it is not a quick and easy process. A lot of thought, strategy and design goes into it. Each of the new pieces of furniture are designed and built to showcase at one of these two major furniture events in October or April.
(Design strategy session)
(Design Schedule to stay on track for Market)
So back in September of 2015 I went to one of their strategizing sessions where furniture designers submitted their designs to LZB based on current trends, market needs and pieces that the company felt was missing in their furniture offerings. So I got to sit in the room as the La-Z-Boy strategy team looked at the body, arms, back, tufting, and everything else that goes into a sofa, loveseat or recliner and decide which pieces should go to the research and development team to build a prototype. A person’s whole job is to draw and sketch and design furniture pieces. Crazy, right? So we looked through about 3-5 different artist renderings and about 40-50 designs of sofas and I got to hear the product merchandising team go back and forth about what they liked and didn’t like about each piece. It was crazy fascinating. And in my mind I kept thinking “How do they know that? How do they see that?” Literally one person would say I like the arms on exhibit D, but the back on exhibit E, can they merge those two designs? It was a mind blowing watching the process.
So from those 50 designs they narrowed it down to a select number of pieces that they would bring to Market. And that wasn’t it. About a month after that I went back to Monroe, Michigan for fabric week. Over the course of several different visits, fabric manufacturers present La-Z-Boy with textile offerings for them to select for their new line for the year.
So again their strategy team gets in a room as the fabric manufacturers present hundreds of different patterns, textures and colors of fabric. Meanwhile they are discussing pattern and texture and whether or not that will fit in with the fabric choices that La-Z-Boy already offers. I think the hardest part is looking through an all company perspective rather than your personal taste. I would not be good at that job!
(La-Z-Boy’s Current Fabric Line)
(Strategy team analyzing new fabric offerings)
And then you think that is all?! Nope that is just the beginning. Then they pick out fabrics and might change the weight or color scheme of them. Then the fabric company will come back with changes and they do it again until they narrow it down to perfection. This is hours and hours of La-Z-Boy employees time to get the perfect color, texture and feel that they deem La-Z-Boy quality and style.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the process….