Accessory (& CYH) Launch Party!


I’ve posted previously about the installation of our new Complete Your Home (CYH) department here in our showroom. Last week, we partnered with Seattle Magazine to hold an event celebrating the Fall additions to our accessories collection and the new CYH space.

Some highlights were:

  • Four local designers each “reworked” one of our room settings in their personal style using new Room & Board accessories along with pieces they brought in on their own.
  • Delicious snacks catered by Ravishing Radish served along with sparkling wine, cider, and beer.
  • An Instagram contest to win a gift card for showroom photos posted that evening and were tagged #roomboard2014sea.
  • One of our Design Associates (Anthony Toledo), who also is a DJ, provided a soundtrack for the evening.
  • There was also a tower of Room & Board branded cupcakes made for us by Trophy (pictured above) that were quite a hit!

Our brand team along with other members of our staff worked tirelessly to organize and pull off the festivities. We had over 200 customers join us for the event and a good time was had by all!

New Complete Your Home Department

Our new Complete Your Home department has been in for just shy of 2 weeks now and it is amazing. In my brief tenure at Room & Board, each time we have made a change, they always seem nice. Not so much with this department.

Each time a Design Associate walks into the department for the first time, their mouth just drops at how beautiful it is (me included). Our customers walk in and get very quiet. If you watch them, their eyes just roam and try to take everything in. For Oakbrook, not only is the department really beautiful, but we have seen an almost instantaneous jump in our pillow, frame and linen sales.

What I love about Room & Board is that we’re constantly asking questions and because of this we’re always refining. If you talk to a Design Associate who has been with the company for a period of time, they will mention that this is a second go around for an accessories department. However, this time we seem more dialed into our own identity. Because of this we have a much sharper focus on what we believe is going to work for customers when they are shopping for their own home. However, we are integrous enough to also really want feedback as to what is working and what is not.

I’m looking forward to more changes and more refining as the years come and go. Who knows where we’ll be five years down the road. I can’t wait to find out.


A Reason to Look a Little Deeper

This past weekend we hosted another excellent event in the store. We doubled up the introduction to our newest accessories and redesign of the accessory shop with a book signing by James Beard award winning cookbook author Amy Thielen. She also has a program on the Food channel for the Midwest table.

It was a gorgeous autumn day in Minnesota with the Fall temperatures and colors creating a reason to be out and about. We had our favorite ice cream shop [Sebastian Joe's] make a poppy seed streusel bar from Amy’s book for our guests. It was a fun and festive event for our store over the whole weekend.

We have an excellent team of Design Associates who keep coming up with great ideas for celebrating various events throughout the year. I always feel this creates energy and enthusiasm around our beautiful store and gives our customers another reason to look a little deeper at our offering.

Fall Challenge

So. I don’t work out. I grew up a dancer, but once it became obvious I was too short to dance for the New York City Ballet, I settled in and focused on the other form of exercise I love. Sitting.

Fortunately for my health, I work with very active and supportive exercise enthusiasts. We have a fitness center at our Central Campus that offers complimentary classes, yoga & Pilates instructors, a personal trainer, and a full workout facility.

This fall, I signed up for the Fall Fitness Challenge. I needed a personal goal structure to get back into a gym routine after working from home during the remodel here this summer. I expected it to be an individual activity, but we were quickly assigned to teams.

Flashback: I grew up a dancer for a reason. I wasn’t what you would call an asset to any athletic based “team”.

I suspect that there may be a few moments here and there when my new teammates will wonder how it’s possible for someone in a fitness challenge to earn so few points. After all, you can earn points by getting enough sleep at night. But even though I don’t know my teammates very well, here is something I do KNOW. I know they will be kind. I know they will be supportive in the face of frustration. I know they understand that not everyone’s personal challenge includes a 6 minute mile (for some of us, it’s drinking enough water) and still include me in their own personal successes.

Maybe I’ll have a breakthrough and commit to a regular Pilates class moving forward! That’s what a dancer would do.

Please Press 1

Customers who dial Room & Board’s 800 phone number are prompted to Press 1 for customer service or design help. With that selection on an average day, they’ll be connected with one of ten or so Design Associates working within the Shop From Home department.
While we all share a passion for design, a knack for interacting with strangers, and the business sense to manage the multitude of tasks that come across our desks, no two of us Shop From Home Design Associates are alike. We don’t fit any mold in terms of our education or background. Among us there are art school graduates and degrees in English and Education and Interior Design. We have been small business owners and school teachers. We have managed retail stores and corporate departments. We have designed jewelry, ceramics and baskets. We have worked in art museums and we have sold real estate. We have veteran staffers with over two decades of experience here at Room & Board and new employees still in the midst of training who won’t answer a call for quite a few months yet.
From our diverse backgrounds we come together as one cohesive group, a group in which individually any one of us can pick up where someone else left off. We share with one another: The parents and the pet owners among the group are always vocal about the most durable fabrics and tabletop materials. We know which sofa and chairs our shorter and taller peers prefer in terms of comfort and fit. And it goes on. We complement one another, each of us a unique piece of the bigger puzzle, the team behind Press 1.

Planning for 2015

2015 Planning

Now that our Complete Your Home department has been successfully installed in our showroom, the Triangle Team (Visual Associate, Inventory Associate, and Retail Merchant) can really get an in-depth start on our 2015 floor change. I’m excited to be transitioning into the Retail Merchant role for our store, which means that I’ll be involved in this project. There is so much preparation that goes into creating our showroom journey! At times, I am anticipating that it may feel a little overwhelming for me as I’m learning, but we have a great team here who has done this before so I know that there is a lot of support.

The photo above is a quick snapshot of a wall in our conference room where our Visual Associate keeps the floor plan for our showroom along with other tools and inspiration. As it is still somewhat early in the process, she is using sticky notes to mark where items will be placed for 2015. This allows for flexibility as we add more layers into the room settings and the placement of items around the showroom is adjusted. She also has fabric swatches for major upholstery items tacked up on the wall and rug swatches down on the floor for reference. Additional lists and calendars are also kept here so we are aware of the various dates that different pieces of this project will be due. This week is when we’ll really start working together as a team again to determine more specifics about items, finishes, and placement.

One of the things I hear customers comment on quite frequently is that our showrooms are very calm and relaxing to be in. I love that people enjoy our space so much, and it is great to be getting a better understanding of what it takes to create and maintain this type of environment for our shoppers!


Complete Your Home Installed!


I posted a couple of weeks ago about the construction for our new Complete Your Home (CYH) department that was taking place in our showroom. Well, earlier this week, we had an incredible team of people who came together to install this new department. The photo from my last post is the same view as the photo above. Instead of the temporary aisle with walls of plastic sheeting from construction, we now get to welcome our customers into this new, bright, and inspirational space!

After we closed the showroom this past Sunday, there was a team of four from our store (including myself), along with a separate team of seven from our Distribution Center who worked to bring all of the fixtures and furniture into the CYH department. Then, on Monday morning, a crew of Visual Associates, Design Associates, and partners from our Central offices descended to install and set everything in place. The bulk of the work was completed on Monday, with some smaller projects being completed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Many people have been involved in the planning and execution of this new space in our showroom, and their hard work has clearly paid off. The CYH department looks beautiful and our staff members and customers alike are super-excited by the new changes!