Emily Morrow Finkell: How Personalization Cuts the Noise and Equates to Sales

As we look forward to 2018 trends, the themes of personalization and storytelling still remain prevalent as consumers work to weed through all of the static and noise on social media—to find people and brands that allow them to authentically connect. When we look at the positioning and language that major brands use in their marketing materials, it’s difficult to feel like a real person is behind the scenes. I’m oftentimes left wondering, “Does this brand really care about me, my family and my needs?”
Interior Of Busy Design Office With Staff
What most people want and need are solutions to their unique challenges or problems.
Because of the barrage of information, promises and claims in the digital realm, in particular, consumers are wondering who they can really trust. Research from Mashable.com shows us that Millennials are 50% more likely to trust user-generated content, because the stories are told by actual people with real lives. Trust is built with transparency and authenticity- the reassurance that this brand has invested in the time to really get me.
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After thirteen years as the director of color, style and design for Shaw Floors carpet and hard surface, I had time to really reflect on what the consumer wanted in her home. Countless designer summits, conversations with industry colleagues and deep dives into industry data shaped my perspective. And two years ago when the time felt right to begin my own endeavor, Emily Morrow HOME, I knew that a personalized story had to be the heartbeat. Never having pursued anything half-heartedly, I knew this endeavor was especially important. This step was the beginning to a saga which involved all that I cherish…faith, family, design, travel and connecting these seemingly disparate parts into beautiful products for the home.
My life is a quilt that’s pieced from a beautiful combination of my commitment to family, a rich Dalton-based heritage, a lifetime in the design industry, a love of travel, an appreciation for culture—and the list goes on and on. The components that make up my perspective and my story are unique… every board and plank from the Emily Morrow HOME collection represents my viewpoint. The marketing materials are designed to communicate my personal experiences with vibrant visuals and rich story-based content, engaging the senses and evoking emotions that connect on a very human level. My products are made for and by the discerning luxury female consumer, and my story sets the brand apart from the brushed metal logo to the dramatic photography. When the story is your life and your love, it doesn’t get more authentic than that, and the consumer instantly connects.
As we all look forward to a fruitful and successful 2018, I beg the question, “What is your story?” When in the market for flooring, she is faced with so much noise. With so many brands and retailers fighting for her attention, ask yourself how you set your business apart to build trust by telling your own unique story in the marketplace. Decide how your unique life experiences magnify themselves into brand attributes that build affinity for your brand versus the competitor. Once you’ve written this story, brainstorm how to communicate it through your website, social media, video and in your community.
Another piece of my quilt is that I’m a breast cancer survivor. Supporting the cause through the Kiker Morrow Finkell Breast Cancer Foundation has become cornerstone to my business philosophy and goals. Not only is it an important cause, but it gives me a platform to tell my story- while connecting with others. In 2018, just be your authentic self—because today’s seasoned and savvy consumer expects it.

E|M|H: Our First Featured Designer Spotlight  

It’s beginning to look and feel like “spring” here in Georgia…and with this beautiful sunshine, our thoughts turn to tackling home improvements and design projects, doesn’t everyone’s? We want to help you with inspiring and informing your customers and clients in meaningful ways, perfectly suited to your unique needs. Please let me know what you want and need.

In April, Emily Morrow Home and team will be hosting a Design Summit in Nashville, Tennessee for discussions and presentations of current design trends as well as presenting the coming mega-trends that I recently shared in Dallas, Texas at the CCA Global Carpet One National Convention. It was there that we launched the Emily Morrow Home 2018 Color of the Year, Matte Black. Stay tuned for more details on this Design Summit.

We are going to be hosting regular designer spotlights that we’ll share with you throughout the year. You’ll see and get to know both residential and commercial designers, all of whom share insights and details about their projects as well as their perspectives regarding hardwood flooring. In addition to meeting our own Emily Morrow Home Designers of Distinction, we invite you to submit your own “designers of distinction” for us to feature on our website and in our upcoming blog posts, some of the content is viewed and shared via publications with readership well over 1 million in print and even more digitally. We love making new friends and look forward to introducing our friends to you!

Thank you,

Emily Morrow Finkell

EMILYMORROWHOME.com

Our First Featured Designer Spotlight  |  Mollie Surratt Interiors 

Today, we’re so excited to introduce you to our dear friend, Mollie. She is usually speeding in with an oversized Louis Vuitton bag full of pull ups, pink lip gloss and paint swatches—with a Starbucks in hand.  She’s got a great eye for interiors that translates to, well, real life.

Born and raised in a suburb north of Atlanta, Mollie grew up in her family’s growing couture bridal business. Today, her family’s business, bridals by lori, is the stage of the hit TLC reality show Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta. You may sneak a peek of Mollie on the show from time to time alongside her mother, storeowner and star, Lori Allen.

While a love of fashion captured her heart from an early age, Mollie’s world collided with interior design during her teen years. A dear family friend, Lillian Tate, started a small interior design firm and invited Mollie to High Point market. During this trip, a passion for interior design was ignited as her hand ran along the curves of elegant furnishings and luxe fabrics. It was magic!

A journalism and mass communication major at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., Mollie joined her talents of writing and communications– and love of interiors- after college. Her first entrepreneurial adventure was beginning Cosmopolitan Events, an upscale event design firm. During this time, Mollie planned over 30 weddings and special events throughout the south. From intimate gatherings in the Savannah Room at the Four Seasons Hotel, to lavish weddings for 1,200 guests, her unique style and ability to listen to her clients created unforgettable soirees.

Upon meeting her husband and relocating to north Georgia in 2006, Mollie spent 12 years in a blazer and heels leading two of the world’s largest flooring and carpet manufacturers in public relations, communications and inbound marketing. Here, her teams won over 20 local and national marketing awards, and Mollie was named the national Digital Communications Leader of the Year by PR News in 2017. While exciting and full of new experiences, Mollie’s entrepreneurial spirit still burned bright in her heart.

In 2018, Mollie finally decided to take a long-awaited leap of faith. Feeling the pull to spend more time with her daughters and follow her dreams, Mollie left the corporate world to begin Mollie Surratt Interiors.  But, with her, she’s bringing rich experiences in couture bridal fashion, worldwide travel and multiple interior projects she completed while in the flooring industry. Her perspective is eclectic, considerate and sophisticated- with a huge dash of fun and humor in the mix. After all, what is life without a little laughter.

We love Mollie’s style and know you will, too.

Emily had the pleasure of meeting Mollie during her first days at Shaw Floors. New to the area and full of questions, Emily took Mollie under her swing as a little sister, if you will. Emily mentored Mollie and, before long, their lives and families became intertwined and so dear. Emily was there for Mollie’s wedding 10 years ago as well as the birth of both of her daughters. Such a special friendship was formed, rooted in the love of family and design.

Like Emily, Mollie is crazy about black. And we just knew Mollie’s design inspirations would include a piece of her signature Mackenzie Child’s Courtly Check. Many of the pieces in Mollie’s vision board can be found in her personal home, like the legendary Artichoke Lamp from Stray Dog Designs. When asked about her pallet, Mollie explains what she loves about matte black. “Not only is it forgiving and durable for busy homes like mine, but it’s just so darn chic. It will never go out of style, and I love it with a pop of red or magenta. My favorite look is when a client is bold enough to do black walls and black trim. Now, we’re talking!”

Mollie’s favorite floor: https://www.emilymorrowhome.com/product/authentic-luxury/

Authentic Luxury is my favorite Emily Morrow Home hardwood floor. The sliced white oak plank is distressed by hand for a true craftsman’s finish. I’m a huge fan of wide plank floors and Authentic Luxury is 7” wide and up to 8’ long. The natural graining and detail of the floor is accentuated by the finish, and it fits with many different design styles. I’m completely in love!! (And don’t you adore those leopard Kate Spade Keds?)

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Emily Morrow Finkell for NWFA Magazine: What’s Your Herringbone IQ? Designs in Hardwood Flooring

Why we love herringbone? Emily of Emily Morrow Home Hardwood explains

Looking through all the endless iterations of hardwood flooring, hardwood “looks” and all the porcelain tiles can cause one to get inspiration overload, especially if you’re looking at it from “outside” our industry. Even professional designers sometimes are overwhelmed by the variety and need some guidance to what’s hot. Let’s test your knowledge on the various designs in hardwood installations that are trending today.

For instance, did you know that the herringbone was used a far back as in Roman times as road pavers? I’ve referenced in previous design articles that the Palace of Versailles fueled my love and appreciation for the herringbone floors as it speaks to the timelessness and classic beauty of not only hardwood floors but also of herringbone hardwood floors. In researching for some of this material, my husband and in-house expert of hardwood flooring Don Finkell questioned what I meant by my claim that “herringbone” was stronger than other types of installation types. He, an architect, and I, an interior designer and part of a multigenerational family commercial construction business, decided this was a fair statement and did a deep dive into the reasons “why”.

Herringbone is a very stable installation type to use for hardwood floors (or road pavers) by design, wherein each of the sides push against the others at an angle and allow for expansion and contraction under weight or traffic. For example, the length of the wood “paver” was not overly large and easier to cut and work with than large planks for laborers or skilled artisans. There’s even more reason why herringbone and other parquetry was used. Practical reasons oftentimes explain the presence of certain things found in historic construction of homes and buildings. The angular installation of the herringbone allows for uneven subfloors or earthen road beds. It can undulate over the highs and lows with little concern for trip-hazards. Today and always, herringbone floors speaks to elegance or pattern play and always makes an interior feel extraordinary. We can find it and its “cousins” chevron and double herringbone all around us, in backsplash tiles, in textiles, inside fireplaces and more.

 

Parquet patterns - collection of most popular flooring samples with names - isolated outline vector illustration on white background.
Parquet patterns – collection of most popular hardwood flooring samples

With that in mind, here we are with the low-down on all that and more. Hardwood flooring has never had so much “sex appeal”, and curb appeal, as it does today. Every type of material is mimicking the lovely “bois” pattern…and patterns that are similar to wood grain, such as zebra, chevron and watermarked, are very much in vogue in both interiors and fashion. We can’t help ourselves when it comes to zigs and zags in wood and fabric. Herringbone for instance goes back to ancient Egypt where woven twill fabrics were discovered (Herringbone: Dropping Knowledge | GQ ) and its impossible not to notice the herringbone wood in iconic architecture like The Palace at Versailles. Currently there are endless herringbone and chevron flooring designs in VCT, rigid core product, porcelain, laminate and of course hardwood itself. For the winning look, hardwood takes first place although the other look-alikes offer consumers a high-end look at a great price point.

Why are we seeing so many interior designers and homeowners install herringbone hardwood? It is an excellent way for designers to set their projects and portfolios apart from the other designers, and homeowners love the look. Herringbone hardwood flooring makes a large design statement of elegance and timelessness at first glance… it’s certainly not a “spec house” look found in all your neighborhood’s other homes. Furthermore, herringbone floors are just busy enough, especially in open floor plans, that they create depth, dimension and visual excitement. In small spaces like entries and foyers, the zig-zag design visually leads the eye across the threshold into the desired space. What professional designers and skilled installers know is this, herringbone flooring can add to the value of the home, and depending on the quality of the product itself and the direction of the installation, it can actually wear better longer due to the fact that the traffic is going over the strongest parts of the board.

“These classic parquet floors are always in style” by,“For a twist on standard hardwood flooring, try a classic chevron or herringbone pattern—the parquet styles have been around for more than a century. Choosing between the two comes down to personal taste: Chevron planks meet in perfect points like a long string of arrows, while herringbone planks look slightly staggered. Often found in formal living rooms, dining rooms, and entrance halls, both of these elegant zigzag designs elevate a room from the ground up.” 24 Elegant Chevron and Herringbone Flooring Ideas Photos | Architectural Digest     

In looking at all the most beautiful herringbone installations published in shelter and design magazines, it’s apparent that the installers are genuine artists in how they are using depths of color, lightness and darkness, and direction to make the installations fit the style of the interior. From a traditional English manor home, a Bel Air, California residence to a modern Scandinavian apartment, the floor’s metamorphosis is inspiring. The creative magic happens because you can intermix the planks and produce any style or pattern dependent upon your installer’s ability.

One important thing to make note of when looking at floors as a life-long career, you’ll see all levels of quality of flooring. Ask yourself why carpet got a bad wrap or why people covered the hardwood floors in the 70’s only to uncover them in the 90’s…American consumers love change and are far too quick to trash something that would be cherished and well-maintained in Europe, so we’re losing that sense of what “quality” flooring looks and feels like. We have, generally speaking, opted for cheaper imports simply for the sake of something new when we could have spent just a little more money and or time, invested in superior American-made hardwood flooring that can last a lifetime, or multiple lifetimes, if you so desire.

It’s easy to be captivated by the wide range of installation configurations in hardwood but, without doubt, the biggest story is in the herringbone and chevron. I’ve observed design influencers around the world being wooed by the opulence of well-made, well designed hardwood boards, oftentimes getting down on their knees to feel the wood grain’s texture, contoured edges and overall finish. Listening in on design professionals discussing how they could include hardwood boards in their design plan makes it all worthwhile and gives me hope that hardwood will never go out of style. The look, the feel, the sound and especially the scent of hardwood can’t be duplicated by any other type of flooring in the world.

 

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