podcast | Mar 18, 2024 |
Big collaborations, close relationships: How Loloi has thrived in a fast-changing industry

Steven and Cyrus Loloi have followed in their father’s footsteps. In the late 2000s, the two brothers joined the eponymous family rug company founded by their father, Amir, in 2004, and together have helped transform it into a major industry player. The company’s origin story is a testament to scrappiness and grit: Amir Loloi moved from Iran to the U.S. in his teens to finish out his schooling and remained in America flipping burgers at Burger King and driving an ice cream truck until he began working for a family member’s rug company, where he drove trucks and acted as a sales rep. “I think [he] grew both an appreciation for product during that time, but also for selling, treating someone else’s business like it was his own, and then eventually going out on his own,” Steven tells host Dennis Scully on the latest episode of The Business of Home Podcast.

A key element of the brand’s growth strategy has been a series of collaborations with high-profile designers like Joanna Gaines, Amber Lewis and Jean Stoffer. The key, say the brothers, is finding designers that are actively bringing perspective and ideas, not just their name. “Steve and I are cognizant of trying to toe that line between commercial viability and real industry credibility,” says Cyrus. “If designers, retailers and consumers don’t see it as an authentic partnership where, ‘Hey, that partner legitimately had a part in informing the design of this,’ it’s going to fall flat, no matter how famous they are.”

Elsewhere in the episode, the brothers talk about the company’s distribution channels and strategy, Loloi’s new Heritage Collection, and what AI can and can’t do in the design industry.

Crucial insight: The duo discussed the importance of trade shows and how they garner designers’ attention. “There are certain things that you can accomplish at a trade show that you simply can’t do digitally, [but] we have to give the designers and the retailers a reason to come to market,” says Cyrus. “When business environments are tough, a lot of people stop developing new products at the pace that they do when times are good. So if I was a retailer, why [would] I want to get up and go to High Point Market? When I just came and saw you guys six months ago, I can wait another 12 months.”

To combat this, the company releases new products at every market they attend to always give patrons something new to see. “I think, as a trade, we should be asking ourselves, ‘What’s exciting about coming to market?’ I think it’s the educational component, and I think it’s access to people. Without this opportunity to meet people, we’re just kind of basing it on intuition and on things that we hear through the grapevine,” he says. “This gives us direct access to our customers. I see markets as being very important, but I think as an industry, we have to work together to ensure that they remain relevant.”

Key quote: “Whether it’s a large-scale retailer or an independent designer, so much is predicated on relationships and trust. As the business has grown, relationships become less and less with Cyrus, Amir and me, because we can only be in so many places at once,” says Steven. “I think it still boils down to relationships [and] making sure that throughout the organization, we have a similar value set.”

Listen to the show below. If you like what you hear, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. This episode is sponsored by Spring Street by Pollack and Crypton.

The Thursday Show

BOH executive editor Fred Nicolaus and host Dennis Scully discuss the biggest news in the industry, including Design Holding’s new Manhattan showroom, a good year for Arhaus, and the rise of intentionally flawed furniture. Later, designer Timothy Corrigan joins the show to talk about how a credit dispute in the pages of Architectural Digest brought a taboo topic into the open.

Listen to the show below. If you like what you hear, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. This episode is sponsored by Loloi and Chelsea House.

Want to stay informed? Sign up for our newsletter, which recaps the week’s stories, and get in-depth industry news and analysis each quarter by subscribing to our print magazine. Join BOH Insider for discounts, workshops and access to special events such as the Future of Home conference.