Two creative powerhouses have joined forces for a new and unique collaboration going beyond product design this season. Interior designer Tobi Fairley and furniture brand CR Laine are partnering to create an upholstery collection that will debut next April, and by extension Fairley's interior design concepts will be featured in the CR Laine showroom where a new bistro area will debut at the October 2014 High Point Market. What makes this collaboration unique is that it also includes a hybrid brand strategy: CR Laine’s products will be included as signature offerings in Fairley’s e-coaching programs and Tobi Fairley & Associates will consult with CR Laine on marketing and PR initiatives.
Tobi Fairley in the CR Laine showroom
“We are regularly approached with licensing proposals," said Warren Frye, President of CR Laine. "But, Tobi Fairley and her team came to us with a very different collaborative idea; one that goes beyond product design to provide additional value to CR Laine retail and design partners. We have similar brand values, but we each bring different strengths to the table. We are looking forward to a long and successful collaboration with Tobi and her company.”
The initial launch will include about 10-15 pieces of upholstered furniture, with new looks added each year.
Read on for a Q&A with Fairley.
What made you want to design a furniture collection and how did you set your sights on CR Laine?
I love to create custom items for my clients, so I knew that one day I wanted to create furniture that could sell to a wider audience.
The reason I was so interested in partnering with CR Laine is that they are truly collaborative partners. You couldn't ask for better partners than Holly Blalock and Mark Gilmore. They were interested in more than just a line of furniture, and were up for ideas and strategies that will create a mutual win for us both.
The company is growing so quickly and has had phenomenal success, but it also still has those ‘small company’ ideals that I love—particularly of also wanting its customers to succeed and grow.
Why go beyond the typical licensing partnership to a comprehensive collaboration?
This is such a different type of a partnership, which is exactly how I like to operate. While we are similar, we have very different strengths that will complement each other and will allow us to offer cutting-edge and forward-thinking products, designs, and ideas. Like my brand philosophy says, this is a creative approach to the world of business. So look out world!
Why do you think this kind of brand partnership hasn't been tried before?
Well I'm not sure this has never been tried before (laughing), but I am always looking for ways that I can bring more to the table. I am a designer, but I have an MBA, and I have a consulting business that offers strong PR and branding skills. So I want to bring everything I can to a partnership to create a win-win with the company I'm working with.
CR Laine will celebrate the new collaboration with Fairley during the upcoming High Point Market with a social event on Sunday, October 19, at 4:00 p.m. in its newly expanded showroom located on the second floor of 310 North Hamilton Street.
This interview has been condensed and edited.