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  • Susan Dickenson

Portrait: Mary Wilson, Studio A

Studio A has arrived - in a big way - as in a High Point showroom that's tripled in size since the spring market, and Mary Wilson, Studio A, Home Accents Today, October 2013where the company this month is presenting its growing line of handcrafted, design-driven accessories, furniture, lighting, mirrors, sculptures, barware, textiles, mirrors and wall décor.

Mary Wilson, who, with husband Bill Wilson, founded the company (as Eastern Breeze Home Collection) in 2005, puts the number of new fall intros at around 250. Included in that presentation are Studio A's first rug introductions and expanded offerings in furniture and lighting - including some new uses of linen, and the addition of table lamps to the company's Roger Thomas Collection - accented here and there with artifacts, natural elements and shine.

She describes Studio A's products as textural and sophisticated, organic, sometimes quirky. "One can tell our products are handcrafted because of the complex finishes, detailed workmanship and attention to detail," she said. "We have gathered interesting and unusual artifacts to complement the line and add a layer of interest to the interiors in which they are placed."

It's a high-design look from a highly talented team, but it doesn't necessarily come at a high price, Wilson noted. "There is a big difference between high perceived value and high prices. Because our design team does such a masterful job at merchandising our beautiful showrooms, I've often wondered if potential customers are reluctant to come in, fearing sticker shock. We're very careful to offer a wide range of price points - which can start as low as $5 - for our customers."

Several years ago, the Wilsons made the decision to partner with Dallas-based Global Views, their Americasmart Atlanta showroom neighbors with whom, over the years, they had become close friends. "In 2010, we wereMary Wilson, Studio A looking for an opportunity to grow, and Global Views was a very good fit on many levels. Aesthetically, the understated, organic nature of Studio A beautifully complements the more colorful, trend-driven point of view of Global Views. It's a very good marriage."

Wilson credits the company's success to a steady flow of hundreds of product introductions, the uptick in the economy, and Studio A's design talent. "Our designer, Steven Yarbrough, really understands the Studio A aesthetic and has been instrumental in developing the magnitude of beautiful, new product which we need to continue growing." But, she noted, Studio A is still a young company in many respects, "so we still have a long way to go in market penetration and customer awareness."

What is your role in the company? I'm a principal in Studio A along with owners David Gebhart, Lois Del Negro and Frederick Rayner. A passion and joy for me is participating in product development and helping to guide the creative point of view of the company. This past year I've been focused on building the brand. I've also spent a lot of time on the road with our sales team to educate them and help build customer relationships.

How did you get into the home furnishings business? I have degrees in journalism and business administration from Valparaiso University and went to work for an international advertising agency in Chicago right out of college. Eighteen months later, I was awarded a graduate fellowship to study in Europe for a year. I had planned to come back to Chicago but, in fact, it was 15 years before I returned to the United States to live. I worked in Munich in international advertising, met my husband of 32 years - a great guy from Abilene, Texas - and eventually began working in his industry so we could be together more.

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