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Susan Dickenson

Retail Profile: Nyla Simone Home, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Nyla Simone Home, a home furnishings and custom furniture boutique in Scottsdale, Ariz., was founded in 2007 by Maria Bailey Benson. Nyla Simone Home
     Benson grew up in Atlanta working in the family's furniture and upholstery business where her father, Arthur L. Bailey, has designed and built custom furniture for more than 40 years. An innate understanding of how things work, which she says she inherited from her father, led Benson toward a career in engineering. She earned both a bachelor's and master's degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech, but in 2007 left the field for "a more creative outlet, as an upscale furniture and accessories store owner."
     A lot has happened in the four years since, but 2011 has been an exceptional one for Benson and Nyla Simone Home, marked by several milestones including the store's relocation to Scottsdale from a neighboring suburb. "Our original location was in a newly developed, retail-oriented design center," Benson said. "The concept for the center never materialized as planned, so it was pretty vacant for the four years we were located there. It was a hard decision, but we are very happy. Our clients are excited about our new location and fully embraced our move."
     Earlier this year, Benson was one of 22 entrepreneurs selected nationally to participate in the inaugural retail "Workshop

Arthur Bailey, 
Nyla SimoneNyla Simone Home's inventory includes custom upholstery and headboards designed by Arthur Bailey, the father of shopowner Maria Benson.
at Macy's," described by Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren as an example of Macy's "commitment to support and grow certified minority- or women-owned retail vendors." Benson spent a week at Macy's headquarters in New York networking, attending seminars and presenting Nyla Simone's Arthur Bailey line of headboards and upholstery to Macy's executives and other vendor suppliers.
     Fueled by the positive reception it received, Benson and Bailey took their furniture line to the Dallas and High Point markets. "We had a fantastic market and will be showing again in April," Benson said of the High Point Market, the most recent. "My dad is absolutely overjoyed. His High Point debut in Market Square (Salon) was 40-plus years in the making, and we could not have imagined a better response."
     "Wearing two hats is getting interesting," she added. "I think my experience as a retailer definitely gives us an edge as a manufacturer. We're very small store, and designer-friendly: No minimums, COM is welcome, and we are open to customization."
     Nyla Simone Home was named to Home Accents Today's Retail Stars list in 2009, and Benson joined its Retail Advisory Board this past September.

Describe your store: Our store is divided into four sections. We have a small showroom area, a furniture gallery to display our exclusive products, a fabric and finish library, and an office/administrative area.

How's business? By the end of the first quarter of 2011, we exceeded our 2010 numbers. The design services portion of our business has grown tremendously. We are now approximately 60% design and 40% retail.

What makes you different from the competition? Our biggest differentiator is the fact that my family's business manufactures the majority of our upholstery. This allows us to offer unique American-made products that can't be found anywhere else.

Are you exploring the use of new technology in your store? I've implemented a number of innovative tools to help us. We use iPads to support sales - access vendor information, check inventory, order fabric, etc. We are piloting a device Nyla Simone, 
Scottsdale, Arizonathat allows us to swipe credit cards through our cell phones, and I use Dropbox and a VPN to access and share information with my support team.

Describe your average customer: Our customer base is primarily female and very discerning. She is 32 to 60 years of age, subscribes to the top shelter magazines, and takes a lot of pride in her home. She is the consummate hostess and loves entertaining.

How do you reach your customer? Our approach to reaching our customers is very interactive. We host an annual Red Dress Cocktail Party benefiting the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women. We also host workshops and are looking to participate in a community art walk this fall. We love Facebook and Twitter, and both have yielded great results for our business. We post photos of new products, upload video messages and advertise sales and promotions through social media. Our customers love it and share the information with their friends.

Any emerging or "hot" trends for your area? I think the Phoenix market is finally transitioning out of Tuscan. A number of our clients have asked for assistance with un-Tuscanizing their homes.

What's the best idea or change you've made recently in the way you operate or market your store? We became certified WBE/MBEs, which has opened up a number of doors for us. It has led to a host of referrals through our local Nyla Simone Home, 
Scottsdale, Arizonaaffiliates, and most importantly it has opened the door to a manufacturing relationship with Macy's.
What is your outlook for 2012? I feel really good about 2012 and am definitely expecting an improvement.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job? I love being surrounded by beautiful things. I really enjoy working in an environment that truly stimulates your sense of touch and sight (and in our store, smell and hearing as well).

Approximate size of your store: 1,200 square feet

About what percentage of your sales are home accents? 30%

Tradeshows/markets you shop: Atlanta, High Point, Dallas

Who are some of your favorite home accent vendors? Tammy Roy Salvage Art, Creative Accents Rugs, Archipelago Botanicals, Dante Yarbrough Art Work and, of course, our very own Arthur L. Bailey & Co.

Address: 6934 E. 5th Ave., Scottsdale, Ariz.

Website: nylasimone.com

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