It all started with a chair. After collector Anna Zaoui hired French designer Pierre Yovanovitch to decorate her apartment in New York in 2015, she outfitted her bedroom with his famous Papa Bear chairs. Her longtime friend, Isabelle Dubern-Mallevays, had coveted the same chairs for years, but was unable to purchase them—the designer’s creation was for clients only. Sensing an opportunity, the two decided to find a way to give customers around the world access to similarly exclusive furniture and decor. They came up with The Invisible Collection, an e-commerce platform they launched in 2016 alongside Lily Froehlicher, who brought a background in digital retail from the fashion industry. The first designer to join the company’s roster of makers? Pierre Yovanovitch.
“We realized that most of the furniture that we were seeing in the most beautiful homes and magazines were pieces that had been designed for private clients and would never be sold again,” Froehlicher tells host Dennis Scully on the latest episode of The Business of Home Podcast. “We thought that was too much of a shame and decided to create a distribution channel for this type of furniture.” Over the last eight years, the company has grown to work with more than 750 artists and designers (many of them French), and has opened showrooms in London, Paris and New York.
Elsewhere in the episode, Froehlicher talks about the differences between French, American and British luxury; the company’s rule for pricing transparency; and its way of dealing with dupes.
Crucial insight: The Invisible Collection invests in tailored customer service practices to satisfy a discerning clientele. “We have very strong sales teams who know their clients by name, and we’re very close to our clients,” says Froehlicher. “The way that we’ve scaled the business and grown has been organic and led by human connections. We prefer to grow by adding new pieces and making sure that our clients come back, rather than trying to become the Amazon of luxury.”
Key quote: “What we love the most is that we’ve been able to put forward emerging talents that had no channels to express themselves and show their furniture. They’ve become hugely successful through Invisible Collection, even though they just came out of school,” says Froehlicher. “A very famous designer can have less success or can be as successful as a young emerging talent. Everything is all about the piece that they’ve designed, the price that they’re selling it at, the customer service that they’re able to offer, the quality of the photos, and the availability of the samples. It’s all about the quality of their work, rather than the name on the [label].”
The Thursday Show
BOH executive editor Fred Nicolaus joins host Dennis Scully to go over the biggest news in the industry, including a new acquisition for Kravet, a B Corp boom and TikTok’s obsession with “bookshelf wealth.” Later, BOH managing editor Haley Chouinard brings back highlights from Heimtextil, and Luxe’s new editor in chief, Jill Cohen, shares her plans for the brand.