As a designer herself, Kathy Kuo has built a brand that caters to those in her trade. Her online home, décor and furniture retailer, Kathy Kuo Home, offers a selection of products that don’t just deliver on style but also on quality. It’s her To the Trade program, however, that truly sets her brand apart from other retailers. Her team has thoroughly thought out all the different requirements and tools that designers might need to do their best work. We sat down with the company’s founder to find out more about just how exactly designers can get the most out of working with her brand.
You started Kathy Kuo Home back in 2012 because you were a little disappointed with what other online retailers were offering – what was missing and how does your company provide a better selection?
I remember being in the market for a new sofa and thinking “How is there not a single high-quality sofa that I like available online?” As an interior designer, I am constantly looking for well-crafted, sustainably-sourced furniture, and at that time in 2012, there really wasn’t any designer furniture available online. I thought there needed to be a curated online destination that provided easy access to well-made designer pieces, so I decided to create Kathy Kuo Home.
Obviously, the online retail world has been rapidly evolving over the last decade or so and much has changed since 2012. However, one key component of our business has remained the same, and it’s our high touch, design-first merchandizing philosophy. There is a very human element to what we do at Kathy Kuo Home as merchants that sets us apart from other furniture retailers. We don’t just sell products, we curate them, and we’re very particular about what ends up on the site and what does not to ensure that our customers are shopping the best of the best.
As an online retailer you are really focused on providing designers with a personalized and comprehensive experience – how were you inspired to focus on them?
Well, my background is in interior design, and I’ve been a part of the design community for decades, so a big part of my mission when starting the company was to be a resource for designers as well as the general consumer. I intimately understand the difficulties designers can experience with both vendors and retailers (things like order minimums and shipping nightmares), and I wanted to be the solve to those problems.
Over the years, we’ve developed a team of dedicated professionals who are here to assist our designer trade clients with just about anything. Our trade specialists help clients with everything from custom solutions and ordering to consolidation and shipping.
If a designer wanted a product that you don’t directly carry, would it be possible for you the source it? Has this happened before?
Yes, we 100% have the ability to source products that we don’t carry on our site. Our curation is based not only quality but also on our specific brand aesthetic and sense of style, so there will, of course, be instances when a trade member has a client who wants something that just doesn’t fit in with our assortment. We’re more than happy to help! If you’re requesting a particular piece, we will find it and quote it for you. In fact, we are even able to help trade members source hardware, millwork, contractors and other various designer needs.
That sounds pretty comprehensive! How far can customization at Kathy Kuo Home go?
We can do a lot when it comes to customization, but it ultimately depends on the specific piece you’re interested in. A large number of our pieces allow for custom fabrics and finishes. A smaller portion of pieces allows you to customize a truly bespoke piece with custom frames, sizes, colors, materials, etc. Our trade specialists know our product lines inside and out, so they can assist with very specific customization needs to find the perfect piece within our collections, and as mentioned prior, we can also use resources from outside our assortment when necessary.
What other perks do trade industry clients get when they shop frequently at Kathy Kuo Home?
First and foremost, we offer competitive trade pricing for our designers. Our discount structure is great because it allows designers to save more and more as they continue to spend, and all interested designers can learn more about the program once they sign up here. We also match competitor pricing on identical items to ensure our trade partners always get the best price.
Most importantly, each trade member in our program is given a dedicated trade account manager. As I mentioned before, our team offers superior service and project management, and they truly are your best resource as a trade customer. Your trade specialist can coordinate things like sending samples of fabrics and finishes for custom solutions, and they will follow up on each part of your project, including the shipping and after-sale stages.
We also make the installation process a breeze for designers. I am more than familiar with the frequent headaches that come with installs. Luckily, we are able to offer storage and consolidation at no additional fee to our trade clients so you can receive shipments all at once and on time for your install date.
This is all part of the Trade User Experience platform that you offer. What are you currently working on? Anything new that designers can look forward to enjoying?
There are so many exciting new features coming soon to the trade member experience! Without giving too much away, we are currently working on features like product wish-lists, order management tools, and a trade dashboard which will really streamline the project management experience for our trade members.
How about shipping costs, are they really free once you spend over $100?
Yes, shipping for our trade clients is free on orders over $100 in the contiguous United States. White Glove delivery charges can be an additional nominal charge, but we do our best to mitigate these costs for our designers.
Thank you for chatting with us! We’re certain that our design readers will see your To the Trade program as a great asset to their business.