When Timur Yumusaklar joined F. Schumacher and Co. as president and CEO in 2015, he came with a mission to take the now 132-year-old company into the 21st century. According to Yumusaklar, it’s not that far of a stretch—after all, when the company was founded in 1889, wallpaper was a fairly new invention. He just had to transfer that same cutting-edge mindset—bolstered by a foundational appreciation for home design—to the modern age.
“It’s important for us that we try out new technologies, processes and products,” Yumusaklar tells host Dennis Scully on the latest episode of The Business of Home Podcast. “And I think it’s OK to make mistakes—that’s part of an innovative, creative process. But to build the confidence and excitement of trying something new … Once you see that thrill when that works, that’s one of the best things I’ve ever experienced. You put these two things together—over 130 years of dedication to the feeling of home, plus this thrill of the next exciting thing—it’s a good cocktail.”
Today, the textile house incorporates five different brands. The longstanding stalwarts are Schumacher—known for its fabric, wallpaper and trim designs—and rug company Patterson Flynn Martin. Then there are the new additions under Yumusaklar’s purview: the recently acquired Backdrop, a Los Angeles–based paint company; the Freddie designer membership community; and Frederic, the brand’s magazine. The expansion into new verticals falls in line with Yumusaklar’s plan for modernization, which includes running the company as “75 percent startup, 25 percent heritage brand.”
The startup work ethic also applies to day-to-day operations. In particular, Yumusaklar favors the method of rapid prototyping: bringing ideas to realization at a faster rate in order to see what works and what doesn’t in real time. To get Schumacher on the same page, he has ditched the biannual product release schedule favored by many brands and instead has the company on its own flexible timeline for each product.
“I’m not a fan of guidelines or guardrails or being too regimented. A biannual or twice-a-year introduction is neither timely nor exciting,” he says. “When you launch a new product every month, or even every two weeks, there’s no such thing as late. You launch when it’s ready, and you love it.”
The same mindset carries over to Frederic—which began as The Bulletin, a publication (and title) that was more newspaper than glossy shelter magazine. Several iterations later, it is stocked with a seasoned editorial team (led by former Veranda editor in chief Dara Caponigro) and churning out stylish spreads. What began as an introduction to a product collection has morphed into an entity focused on driving new conversations in the design industry.
For Yumusaklar, cultivating discourse within the trade is crucial. In some ways, he thinks the design industry may be its own enemy—internal competition isn’t helpful to anyone, as when one design center or mill falls, it corrodes the many brands associated with it and casts a bad light on the industry at large. Instead, he says, industry players should focus on promoting themselves and targeting the untapped market that retailers are siphoning off.
“I read somewhere that every human owns about 10,000 pieces in their home, between books and shelves and whatnot. It’s a difficult thing to put together, and I find sometimes decorators need more visibility. … I’m not going to leave it to retail companies to tell homeowners how to decorate, because everything’s going to look the same,” he says. “We go to the dentist for a reason; we go to a lawyer for a reason—the home is an expense we should go to a professional for, too, instead of dabbling in [it] ourselves.”
To that end, the company is continuing to develop Freddie, a membership community for interior designers created to provide support and visibility by connecting decorators and consumers. It’s an ongoing effort and is part of Yumusaklar’s agenda of helping the industry evolve together. In this episode, the Schumacher president and CEO expands on some of the brand’s newest endeavors, while laying out his ideas for the future.
Homepage photo: Timur Yumusaklar | Courtesy of Schumacher