Samantha Emmerling, Market Editor with aspire design and home magazine, chats with Evan Soltoff, VP of Operations about closet designs and trends.
Samantha Emmerling, Evan Soltoff
Samantha Emmerling 00:00
Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining us. I am Samantha Emmerling. And I am Market Editor with aspire design and home magazine. And I am thrilled to be joined by Evan Soltoff who is the Vice President of Operations for eggersmann USA. And today, Evan and I will be speaking about trends in closet design. And that’s anything from the latest materials to the latest storage innovations.
Samantha Emmerling 00:26
So first, I’d like to say welcome to you, Evan. And we’re so excited to be here with you today. Thank you.
Evan Soltoff 00:35
Thank you, Samantha. So glad to be here. Appreciate you asking me to come join you today.
Samantha Emmerling 00:39
And we are delighted. So I think we’re going to jump right in. And I wanted to start by asking you about eggersmann, because my understanding is that eggersmann USA started in kitchens. And so, I wanted to ask a little bit about the move into the living spaces and closets, walk-in closets…wardrobes in particular.
Evan Soltoff 01:03
Yes, that’s a great question. I think a lot of it is driven, certainly by our customers’ demands and needs. The eggersmann as a brand is over 110 years old. And in the United States, it’s our flagship product. And about 8 or 9 years ago, we added the Schmalenbach home living collection, which is our whole wardrobe line and complement to that. And it’s really a homogenous product line where we can offer the materials, expansive, even more so in the wardrobe than in the kitchen, because of the use and the care of them.
But really, the innovation came about because we had clients that enjoyed working with us in the process…sitting down and designing their kitchen with them. You really get to spend a lot of time with someone a lot of time with a customer or customers. So when there’s that trust and that kind of bond together, they ask, “What other things can we do with you?” And so, it is a natural step for us.
We also saw a major progression in the industry and a growth in the home living and closet wardrobe segment.
Samantha Emmerling 02:10
Actually, could you tell me a little bit about that growth? And why you think that is happening right now and expected for the future from what I’ve read as well?
Evan Soltoff 02:19
Yes, I think we were going to talk about two aspects of that. One is the post-COVID growth. And I don’t think you can have a discussion today without talking about that at all. But also, before that, wardrobes were really just already on a huge increase in America. And I think that’s number one. That’s because people are using their spaces, more than ever to actually get dressed in them not just a place to put the clothing, not just a place to store things. It’s now an environment. So, much like the kitchen is the gathering heart of the home, the closet is a place where you can come and kind of showcase your gallery of whether that’s handbags or hats, or jewelry or your clothing collection. It becomes almost a department store in your home. So people are expanding the size of their closets, really to invite their friends in sometimes, they’re getting changed and dressed in there. So it’s gone from that place of storage to an environment.
Samantha Emmerling 03:27
So yes, it seems like the whole process of building a closet for a client is very bespoke process and very tailored to the individual needs. So I was wondering, what is the process by which you go about creating a closet for a client?
Evan Soltoff 03:44
Yes, that’s a great question. And I think when we started designing wardrobes, here in the States, that entire discussion really opened up, it’s not just about, what you have in your wardrobe, how many feet or inches of clothing you have, but how you like to use it. So our process is that we sit down and discuss with the client, the space they’re going to be using, and we have a very detailed in-depth survey that we like to go into.
So that could be done from the client side, they can do that and take it home and do it at their leisure. Or we can do it with them in the showroom and then kind of in conjunction at their home. And so, we ask questions not just about what you have. For example, I just assumed that when you would design a wardrobe for a gentleman, we would hang ties, I like to hang them up but of course there are many ways to store ties and so we talk about that: Do you like to roll them? Do you like to display them on a table? Do you like to fold them, hang them and so all of those things are discussed?
Some people always like to hang their pants long or they’d like to divide their workout wear from their jeans or casual wear. Many people have a long dress collection or maybe just skirts or shorts. And so that also depends on the mark that we’re in.
So you have to think about the region. If we’re in Colorado, for example, we’re designing a wardrobe for our clients, it might be a lot more ski equipment and a lot more outdoor activities, sports, than we might have here where I’m at in Houston. So it does depend on the area and the person. And that discussion and process is very personalized.
Samantha Emmerling 05:20
Wonderful! And I love that personalized aspect. And it was actually making me think about the materials that you use that I’ve seen in a closet such as this seem very fresh and new. And so I was wondering what kinds of materials you work with? And are there any new offerings where there’s a sustainable story, anything like that?
Evan Soltoff 05:45
Yes, so that’s certainly I think out of all of the different options that we have, we can offer a huge expansive variety. So, we have, we call our decor materials and that would be solid colors and woodgrain laminate materials that are really durable for a wardrobe environment. [They] offer a really kind of fresh take, and even wood materials that you might not see necessarily in nature.
We’re one of the very few industrial wardrobe manufacturers that is also still stitching and hand-stitching our woods and veneers. So we still offer if you’d like a custom bespoke oak or even Macassar Ebony or a Palisander wood or exotic wood, we can make the entire wardrobe from that. And that’s something that really takes a lot of craftsmanship to do. In addition, we are creating an offering now, eco leather fronted cabinets. And so we’ve gone completely vegan with our leather choices. We don’t offer any real leathers anymore for environmental reasons. And it’s really the possibilities of eco leather are really endless, in what you can do the patterns and the techniques that we can do. I have an example here, actually, of some of the different colors that you can offer in different varieties. So we do a full stitched kind of door here, we can actually see the stitching pattern. We can do different kinds of stitching patterns there. And you can get a little bit more wild with something like an ostrich print, if you’d like in different colors. So we can get a little bit intense there. And then even a snake skin if you’d like to, but of course no animals were harmed in the process. [laughter]
Samantha Emmerling 06:48
And actually, as you show me the materials, I’m noticing some things in the background like we see here, but some functionality and some design innovations that no one should miss when they come to eggersmann USA, I want to hear what, if you could talk to me about this, watch storage, this sunglass storage, I’d love to hear a little bit about that.
Evan Soltoff 07:54
Sure. So the watch storage device. And the watch winder system is a really popular item, especially if you’ve got a homeowner that is interested in automatic watches, they have a collection. So you know if you’re into that it’s a very specialized segment or collection. And so each watch has to be wound at a certain frequency or certain speed and direction. So we can do watch winders for clients that are exposed, like you see here on display, some people like them hidden…in a hidden safe or a hidden compartment. And you can do from 1 to 100, really as many as you’d like. And we of course build that into the furniture so that it’s not just this device that you sit on the shelf, everything, that’s what we’re all about is integrating that technology into the furniture component.
And as you see it there, of course, it’s very well lit. And I think that’s an important aspect. If there was one item in a wardrobe that I would want and to encourage someone to include an ad it’s lighting, and so that is so critical, almost every space we walk into, even if it’s a custom built home, there’s almost never enough lighting in a closet or wardrobe environment. And it’s one of the most, aside from maybe ensuring in a kitchen that you need to see food cooked properly, it’s probably the second most important room of the home to ensure that we’re matching the texture of fabrics properly as we look at them and we are ensuring that. And that we are not wearing a black sock and a blue sock together, you know those colors can be kind of tough to see if you don’t have sufficient light. So that’s a really important aspect. Of course, we’re showing that with the watch winder there. And the sunglass displays.
Samantha Emmerling 09:37
Wonderful and I would love to end with the question, what is your most popular feature that every client is asking for now forever?
Evan Soltoff 09:49
Well, I’m going to leave within say that I think that’s geographically based. So I’m here in Texas… I’m in Houston. And so here one of our most popular features is actually our boot storage system. So we created this and then we honed it improved on it here. I’m going to demonstrate it for you but it’s a device that certainly here in Houston, we’ve got lots of boot owners, and sometimes they’re big boots and we need to be able to store this. So, this is actually a great boot hanging device. So it keeps the form of your boot but also, prevents them from kind of sitting on the floor and folding over. And a great way to actually see them so comes out to you. And again, lighting as you can see is important aspect there. So I would say for us here. That’s one of the most important features.
Samantha Emmerling 10:39
Well how fabulous is that? I love seeing everything today. Thank you so much for joining us. We are delighted to have you. And I would encourage everyone listening to please look at the eggersmann USA website. Check out where the showrooms are and please go look at this all in person. It is fabulous. So many innovations. Just beautiful. And thank you again.
Evan Soltoff 11:03