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Susan Dickenson

Donny Osmond Home Collection: The interview

December 11, 2013

In less than a month, Donny and Debbie Osmond will be making their home furnishings industry debut at Americasmart Atlanta. The Donny Osmond Home Collection, a "family and home" themed offering of transitional, quality, Donny Osmond, Greensboro, N.C.moderately priced goods, is a project these multi-tasking parents/grandparents have been conceptualizing for three years - and one they are enjoying and excited to be bringing, together, to market.

This week, Donny was here in Greensboro for the sixth stop on a 15-city tour of the Donny and Marie Christmas Show that wraps Dec. 21 in Minneapolis. Several weeks ago he agreed to an interview with Home Accents Today, to take place a couple of hours before the December 9th show, in which he would share some of his thoughts about this new business direction he and Debbie are taking.

After a lot of coaxing and arm-twisting on the part of my co-workers, I agreed to do the backstage interview with Donny. I had, after all, been under that same Greensboro Coliseum roof with Donny once before - on August 27, 1971, as a screaming 10-year-old fan attending her very first concert. Every woman reading this who has ever lived through a crush on Donny Osmond (or Justin Timberlake or Justin Bieber or Paul McCartney...) will totally understand why this will go down as the most deliciously satisfying interview of my career.

The complete story will run in the January national issue of Home Accents Today, which will also be available on the racks at Americasmart. Once published, we'll also post it online at www.homeaccentstoday.com

But there are a few observations, personal opinions and behind-the-scenes moments I'd like to share in this more casual blog venue, beginning with this personal video clip.  (See video at bottom of page.) If you can overlook the shakiness (my husband's video work with my little Olympus digital camera was a last minute addition), you might like hearing Donny talk about "coming home" as a young pop star and how having eight siblings drove him to wear purple socks, and enjoy his reaction when I handed him my first Donny Osmond record album, complete with a 10-year-old's worshipful signature of ownership on the front, for an autograph.

Monday night was Donny's birthday, his 56th and, trust me - he doesn't look (nor dance) like it. Those of you who know Donny Osmond, Greensboro, NCme well know my husband Tim is a beekeeper, so we brought a jar of his honey to the singer as a birthday gift. We parked by the backstage entrance, followed the road manager inside, and were asked to wait for a few minutes while he checked to see if Donny was ready for us. About that time, and unexpectedly, the 10-year-old in me surfaced and I became very nervous about meeting my childhood idol. I told Tim, "When we walk in, I'll give him his birthday gift right away, and then you immediately start talking about honey and beekeeping with him so I can get myself calmed down." Sure enough, when we were escorted into Donny's dressing room, all I could manage was a weakly "Happy Birthday," while handing over the gift bag to him. A few minutes later, I felt like I was talking to an old friend. Three words to describe him: Smart, funny, warm.

Donny's career spans five decades, and because of the variety of projects he's been involved with - music, television, movie voices, radio, Broadway, Las Vegas, etc. - some with his brothers, some with Marie, some on his own, his appeal and popularity spans generations. He told me about a young boy he met recently who had became a Donny fan after

Donny Google GlassI bet no one else in the world can say that Donny Osmond has photographed them through Google Glass.
watching him on Dancing With the Stars (Donny won the title in 2009). After hearing Donny give a singing performance, he walked up to him and said, "I didn't know you knew how to sing, too." He also talked about a recent encounter with a group of college students in a Las Vegas parking lot - Donny heard his Captain Shang song from the Disney movie Mulan coming from a van, walked over and knocked on the window and introduced himself. The surprised group, somewhat in recovery from a weekend of partying, said the song was their get-up-and-go-song - it starts out, "Let's get down to business." There were a lot of Baby Boomers in the audience Monday night in Greensboro, slightly more women than men, representing a variety of lifestyles. The first three audience members Marie randomly chose to banter with said they had traveled from Virginia, Wilmington, N.C. and Greenville, S.C. to see the show.

I learned that Donny is very tech-savvy. He's the computer geek behind all of the interactive show's lighting, special effects, and video stories. On his mobile device, he's using a growing collection of Dropbox folders to share home furnishings photos, concepts and feedback with Debbie, the design team and their manufacturing partners. He compared the launch of this new business to the numerous entertainment projects he's been involved with over the years, all of them - the shows, tours, recordings - basically launched and managed like new start-ups.

I brought my Google Glass for him to try, and he put them right on and began swiping, tapping and giving "OK, Glass" commands like a pro, even though it was his first Glass moment.

He also shared some digital photographs of his growing family - he and Debbie, married 35 years, have five children and six grandchildren. They will begin their life as empty nesters next year, and look forward to "finally being partners," in this new business venture. "We've been talking about this for a long, long time," he told me. "We're very serious aboutDonny Osmond Home Collection it; we're jumping in full force ... And it's not like we're creating an image here, its organic. That's what we are -- we're all about family."

That brings me to a final observation or, perhaps, a prediction: When it comes to selling a successful home furnishings brand based on home and family values, Donny and Debbie Osmond may be just what a lot of retailers have been waiting for.

Donny and Debbie Osmond will be meeting and greeting buyers in the Donny Osmond Home Collection showcase at Americasmart Atlanta, Bldg. 2, Floor 14, Jan. 9, 2014, beginning at 11:30 a.m.

Current licensees include A & B Home, Anji Mountain, Lamp Works, Arte House, Deco-Breeze, Pearl Mantels, Achim Imports, Ellison First Asia, Copper Creek, Bougainvillea and The Willowbrook Company.