Retail Profile: The Kellogg Collection
October 27, 2014,
For more than 30 years, The Kellogg Collection has been a Washington, D.C.- based destination for fine furnishings, accessories and textiles – many of them European-inspired, some of them handcrafted, all of them selected by owner Pamela Kellogg Green for their exceptional quality, modern sophistication and timeless appeal.
Washington Post Home and Garden Writer Jura Koncius recently wrote of the store, “Many pieces of the quintessential Washington power look can be assembled at The Kellogg Collection: sink-down sofas and club chairs, cozy throws, painted furniture, rugs, gilt mirrors and chinoiserie lamps.”
Along with home accessories, lighting and gifts, The Kellogg Collection offers designer upholstery, pillows and fabrics; custom window treatments and bedding; silk lampshades; gilt and painted mirrors; reproduction antique furniture; English ceramics and antique pine furniture; prints and engravings; original oil paintings and watercolors; and rugs – handcrafted needlepoint, Aubusson, Oushak, Soumak, cotton flat-weaves and rag rugs.
It was rugs, in fact, that led Green to launch her company, in June of 1982. An article she read in House Beautiful about “fresh looks in classic-yet-comfortable interiors” featured dhurrie rugs. After a local search for the rugs proved unsuccessful, Green, a practicing attorney at the time, embarked on a buying trip to India. Upon returning, she put her legal career on hold and opened The Kellogg Collection’s flagship store on Wisconsin Avenue, offering the area’s first hand-woven dhurries. Soon after, the business expanded to include furniture and accessories.
Today, in addition to its Northwest Washington location, The Kellogg Collection operates retail showrooms in Baltimore, Richmond, Va., and the affluent D.C. suburb of McLean, Va.
Each store offers professional design services and has its own personality, but all are consistent with “the Kellogg look” – soft pastels and neutrals, clean classic lines, a lot of texture, well- crafted and/or painted hardwood furniture, fine ceramics and accessories, subtle pops of shine and color. Buying for the stores is centralized, but store staff members can pull from the company’s 10,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in Maryland as they see fit.
Kellogg’s store vignettes, many of them physically defined by hanging rugs, evoke images of a lifestyle rooted in tradition yet appreciative of 21st century comfort. It’s high design meets under-stated elegance.
The sales staff, who work on salary instead of commissions, are people who “want a career, not a job, in home furnishings,” said Green. They are knowledgeable and personable, and the environment is warm and welcoming.
While Green prefers not to discuss her clients or vendors, she and merchandise manager Stephanie Horan agreed to share a little more information with Home Accents Today about The Kellogg Collection and high-end retail and design in the nation’s capital.
How much of your business is interior design? About 20%
What makes you different from the competition? The sales staff, for sure. Most of them have worked here for more than 10 years, and they strive to give excellent customer service. Our interior designers are very talented and stay very busy. And we carry a lot of stock so customers may take items home to try ... and return them if they don’t work.
How many people are on your staff? 33
Describe your average customer: Somebody who wants to live in a beautiful environment that’s comfortable and inviting.
What categories of home accents do you carry? Accent furniture, lamps, rugs, wall décor, decorative pillows, throws, mirrors, permanent botanicals, garden décor, tabletop, fragrance, decorative accessories, bedding.
Are rugs still a key product category for you? Yes. Rugs are displayed on rug racks, in room vignettes and on walls. And lighting is a key category – sconces, table lighting, floor lighting and chandeliers. We are proud to be known in the D.C .area for having a great selection of lighting.
What’s hot in home accents for your market? We maintain a timeless, classic style, so we don’t really follow current trends. However, I do think it’s interesting how well our Chinese blue and white porcelain continues to sell.
Does business pick up when a new presidential administration moves into office? Absolutely! When an administration changes, those leaving the area often want to take things back with them and those coming in need to furnish their new D.C. area homes. We also have a lot of well-traveled clients through the many embassies, the State Department and the World Bank.
About the products used on the House of Cards set – did your staff know when these items were being purchased and what they were being purchased for? Yes, the House of Cards set designer who shopped with us was up front about making purchases for their various scenes.
Did they get it right? They do a great job of mixing traditional Washington, D.C., with a bit of Hollywood glamour that’s perfect for television.
I love the wood accent furniture pieces that I understand are made by a family of woodworkers in Western Maryland. What can you tell me about them? We have worked with this particular source for over 15 years. They have manufactured over 50 different case good styles for Kellogg in various species of woods. Some of the furniture designs are copied directly from antiques and some are designed in house by our talented staff.
Do you offer other private label or custom lines? The Kellogg Collection has several private-label lines of wood and painted furniture and many upholstered frames that are exclusive to Kellogg. We support local artisans and offer many Made in the USA products. We also work closely with vendors who develop product tailored to our needs based on what we think our customer wants and what we think we can sell. This has been a very successful relationship for the vendor and for us. Many of the items that we have helped develop have turned out to be the vendor’s best-selling products. It’s a win-win for everyone.
In your opinion, does high design always carry a high price-tag? High design does not always mean a high price tag. We have hand-selected well-designed and well-crafted product from more than 200 manufacturers.
Please name a few of those manufacturers. We love our vendors – they know who they are – but we try to keep our resources internal because this is our collection that we’ve built over three decades. We pride ourselves on being confidential when it comes to our clients, and we certainly don’t want to give away our company’s best-kept secrets.
How do you reach your customer? Mailings, social media and occasional print advertising. We made an effort this year to ramp up our social media efforts. Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram are the most important platforms for us because they are so heavy with visuals. We are also active on Houzz and Twitter.
Are you experimenting with any new technologies? We have iPads, and we like using a shared Picasa account among the stores to stay on top of everything we offer and can order for customers.
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a retailer these days? The internet. Now we are competing with online products and sites that don’t have brick-and-mortar stores. Some may not even carry stock, nor offer customer service.
Is showrooming (snapping photos, then going online to buy) a problem? We take pride in the fact that our staff gives personal and attentive customer service. Our customers walk away with tear sheets, photos, dimensions, fabric samples ... whatever they need to help make their decisions. They see the product in person at our shops, can take it home on approval, get feedback from an incredibly talented sales team – all things you can’t do when shopping online. We believe that building relationships with our customers is the most important thing we do each day, and that it keeps them returning to buy local.
What are your hopes/plans for the next 12 months? Continue to reach new customers, carry more one-of-a kind products, and further develop our private label and custom product lines. I think the niche we will continue to serve are the shoppers who are overexposed to Pinterest and online-everything; they buy it but don’t know what to do with it. The business direction is becoming more and more about putting things together in the home instead of just selling. It’s easy to create a hodgepodge of things, but it takes experience and talent to put it all together to create something beautiful. That is the Kellogg staff ’s greatest strength.
Location and size of your stores: 5215 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. (5,000 square feet); 1353 Chain Bridge Rd., McLean, Va. (2,000 square feet); 6241 Falls Rd., Baltimore, Md. (4,000 square feet); 6227 River Rd., Richmond, Va. (2,000 square feet)
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