Found Object’s Fresh Face

Found Object is always on the hunt for talented people. So, this past summer when Jude and Salvo ran into their cousin’s daughter, Gaby, who had just finished her studies in interior design, they were thrilled to have her join the team for a three month stint during the busy holiday period.

As luck would have it, the deal worked equally well for Gaby as she faced the decision between a Master’s degree and an internship.  The choice was not really that difficult since at this early stage in her career she was craving the practical experience that only working at a company could provide.

Gaby of All Trades

When she arrived in New York in November, Gaby remembers her fond first impression upon setting foot in the warehouse – the size of the space as well as the large quantity of goods.

She initially worked with Jude on patterns, textiles and colors, matching fabrics to pillows and jewels to chains, with the goal of creating a collection for sale. Although Jude and she have distinct ways of looking at design, they soon discovered that their differing aesthetics complimented each other favorably.  Because Gaby understands the lifestyle genre and color palette, in addition to being well traveled, she has become a great asset, especially when it comes to bouncing ideas around. In fact, in some ways she has become Jude’s right-hand woman.

During this three month period, which is quickly nearing its end, her primary role has evolved to the area of photography, an area crucial to a business so geared to image and design. If an item doesn’t “pop” on the screen, it just won’t sell as well. Gaby uses her keen eye to stylize photo shoots, as well as edit, and crop, cut or silo every photo that is part of the Found Object realm, from flash sales to the scrapbook on the company’s website.

From time to time, she also works with Salvo on computer design projects.  She has developed invitations to events, created patterns for porcelain, and put together a catalog for a line of kid’s furniture.

A Fresh Set of Ideas

Gaby brings a certain kind of freshness to Found Object. Over the course of the past three months, her training and aesthetic have blossomed. The types of textiles – ikats, suzanis, swatis, and bukharas – were completely foreign to her and the vast array of products, colors and designs has really opened her eyes to new ideas.

It doesn’t hurt that she is also living in New York City, a world capital in art and culture. The wealth of fascinating museums and captivating architecture provides a stimulation that cannot be beat.

Before coming to Found Object, Gaby had worked at an interior design office, mainly in computerized drawing. The experience at Found Object is vastly different than a traditional office job because there is the opportunity to gain a glimpse of the complete life of a small company. She witnesses first hand everything coming full circle, from creating a collection, to imaging and sales. She doesn’t do just one job, but many and she has thrived in the fast paced, high energy environment.

At just 22 years of age, she is part of the younger generation that is naturally computer literate, able to quickly adapt to new applications and technologies – a boon to a company that thrives in the online world. And she has learned the workings of Found Object in the blink of an eye. With no prior background in photography, nor any knowledge of the mecca of flash sales, Gaby now works side-by-side with Kristen to set up the myriad and plentiful images required for everything sold by the company.

Plus, everyone in the office adores her. With only a couple of weeks before she returns home, Gaby wishes she could continue working at Found Object a bit longer. So do Jude and Kristen.  She has been a valuable and appreciated talent and everyone will be sad to see her go.

The Found Object Showroom Is Open For Business

Found Object’s move this past August to the Brooklyn Army Terminal has provided the company with 30,000 square feet of raw space, 2,000 of which Salvo and Jude have recently configured to become a photo/video studio and exclusive design showroom. They now have the opportunity to service the wholesale and designer markets, both of which were previously much less accessible due to the lack of an appropriate display venue. 

When boxes and packages roll in, which they do on a very regular basis these days, Jude unpacks them, gets each item photographed, and then stages the pieces to showcase the juxtaposition of different design elements. Jude’s strong background in style and design coupled with a constantly rotating range of products, allows for a multitude of display opportunities.

The wide assortment of goods can now be displayed in ways that were impossible prior to the creation of the new showroom. Now similar styles can be highlighted in a singular space. For example, there are over 200 suzani products and 500 velvet ikat pillows, all of which can be viewed at once by prospective buyers.In addition, the new location has turned out to be a added perk for the business. Brooklyn is by far the most chic of the NYC boroughs, and the Sunset Park/Bay Ridge area in particular has become increasingly popular for the design community. In fact, it’s often cited as the new hub for designers, small industry and manufacturers.

Brooklyn Army Terminal

Visits are by appointment only. To schedule a visit, call Jude at 212-254-1515. Found Object welcomes wholesalers, designers, buyers in the hospitality arena, such as specialty product groups and boutique hotels, as well as the occasional intrepid retail buyer.found object’s first official showroom shoppers

Found Object’s First Official Showroom Shoppers

Found Object’s First Anniversary: Managing Growth

It’s hard to believe only a year has passed since Found Object opened for business. So much has happened during the past twelve months. And it’s not just increased sales, which have grown from just two flash sales to approximately 20-30 each month.

Product lines and inventory have expanded exponentially, encompassing so many more tastes and styles. But so have expenses. Business is booming, but it’s not been without many expected and some unforeseen growing pains.

Product and Sourcing Expansion

In the beginning, Jude and Salvo were focused on Suzani textiles and ways in which to convert them to a range of products. Creations included poufs, pillows, bolsters, ottomans and cubes.

Over the course of the year the product assortment has expanded to include jewelry, furniture, apparel, accessories and more. Found Object has also extended its sourcing destinations, encompassing almost every inch of the globe, from Turkey, India and China to Peru, Morocco, South Africa and many countries throughout Europe.

The newest line, just out this month, is weekender luggage made of cowhide leather sourced from India. Leather poufs, pillows and cubes are other innovations, and Salvo and Jude have been working with suppliers to develop a line of leather iPad covers and journals.

Other fresh items include Indian Chakra jewelry and African inspired pillows, as well as olive based soaps from Morocco, peshtemal towels from Turkey, and beautifully detailed wooden candlesticks from India.

Found Object always strives to stay true to Jude’s aesthetic as Salvo points the way and watches trends. These days the duo is traveling a lot more, but the buying has become much more focused. No longer are they going to the markets and simply looking at what’s available, but rather they go directly to the source – the network of suppliers they have built over the year and which continues to grow – and specify what they want to develop, based on past trends and future forecasts.

Riding the Learning Curve

Another decision-making matter relates to determining which lines sell best on the myriad flash sale sites. Certain sites are more geared to home décor, while others focus on apparel. Some cater to luxury lines while others are tailored to lower priced goods. Needless to say, it’s been a huge learning process recognizing how the many different communities respond to each line of product.

From Simple Hobby to Complex Corporation

Probably the most difficult issue has been dealing with the wealth of changes that result from transforming a hobby that simply embraced the love of shopping to a company that now has a responsibility to growth.

In the old days Salvo and Jude would travel to a country with a couple of empty suitcases.  Now, shipments arrive regularly by courier, air and sea freight. Last week 29 boxes of fabulous wooden candlesticks were delivered to the warehouse.  All of a sudden the business has to deal with customs clearance and freight consolidation, as well as duties, tariffs, and freight forwarders, namely all the intricacies of global trade.

With the increased inventory also comes increased expenses – warehousing, shelving, packaging and shipping supplies, and staff, to name a handful.  Found Object has gone from three employees – Jude, Salvo and Leslie – to a full-time staff of five, as well as a host of part-time sewers, upholsterers and shippers.

New On-site Showroom

One additional facet – what to do with items that aren’t offered in online sales – has led to the formation of an on-site showroom at the company’s warehouse in the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Customers and curious shoppers can now make an appointment to see many items, some offered online and many exclusive to the brick and mortar showroom, in a coordinated retail setting. It’s a great way to truly experience the Found Object aesthetic, as well as the wide range of products for sale.

If you’d like to explore the Found Object collection in person, please call 212-254-1515 and speak with Jude to arrange a visit.

Keeping the Art of Suzani Alive

Some of Found Object’s favorite finds are vintage suzanis – intricate, hand-embroidered textiles made in many of the countries along the Silk Route in Central Asia. Jude and Salvo have been admiring and collecting pieces for many years, often reworking them into pillows, ottomans and furniture.

A couple of weeks ago, Found Object received a beautiful collection of about 60 suzanis that were custom ordered. Approximately 18”x18″ in size, they are being refashioned into exquisite, sophisticated decorative pillows for an exclusive sale on Gilt.com on October 11.

The idea was conceived last April on a trip to Turkey when Salvo and Jude saw some very small vintage suzanis they fell in love with. They decided they wanted to create a unique pillow line. Rather than searching for individual vintage pieces for pillows – a very time-consuming process – they negotiated with local sellers to develop a line of suzani embroideries in the size and colors they preferred.

An added benefit of ordering the custom work is that it encourages an artisan tradition that is slowly disappearing. Over the last 20 to 30 years most of the female embroidery workers have moved to the cities to take higher – paying jobs. A variety of charities and NGOs have stepped in, helping to set up cultural production centers to keep the women sewing and this art thriving.

Jude actually thought she had ordered the pieces as finished pillows, but the suzanis, sewn on solid blue, black, gold and natural silk backgrounds, were delivered as individual textile pieces. So, Jude made an impromptu trip to the garment district in New York City to source silk dupioni fabrics that would form the backing of each pillow. She bought gorgeous silk plaids, ginghams and stripes that would add to the unique look of each finished piece. 

Sewing has started, and zippers, feathers and down cushion inners have been ordered.

Photography has also begun and will continue as the pieces are completed and made ready for sale.

Custom-designed Suzani Pillows will be available on eu.fab.com on October 7.

Found Object at NYIGF: Introducing Velvet Ikats

The New York International Gift Fair (NYIGF), which runs August 18 –August 22, is one of the largest of its kind, offering an enormous range of product from 2,800 companies across the home, lifestyle and gift spectrum. The event, held twice annually in January and August and open only to the trade, draws 35,000 attendees from all 50 states and more than 80 countries.

Found Object is excited to be part of the program, exhibiting a new collection of velvet ikat products, including pillows, fabric by the yard, cubes, ottomans and bags.

The Fair is a crucial event for Found Object as it is a time to make lots of valuable, new contacts and also to take new orders for product. At the event six months ago, suzani products were the focus and were a big hit. New customers included Calypso and Wynn Hotels.

This time around Jude called upon her son, Lucas, for assistance. Work began at the crack of dawn Friday as they waited to rent a truck to haul their goods to the Javits Center. The time consuming task of setting up the assigned Found Object booth took the better part of Friday and Saturday. Because the event is very tightly regulated, union workers had to be hired for all their needs – lighting, tables, chairs, even waste baskets.

The booth happens to be in an odd location – prime for visibility, not so prime logistically. In a corner near the back loading dock, set up and break down are a nightmare as dollies and forklifts constantly run through the booth. On the other hand, the booth is in the center of the Fair, very near the food court.

Finally, the booth was arranged and stocked, ready for opening day, Sunday.

Found Object’s booth is open Sunday, August 19 through Wednesday, August 22 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York, New York. Our booth number is 7885.

Warehousing: from BtoB

-From the Bronx to Brooklyn-

Probably the biggest reason business keeps buzzing smoothly at Found Object is because of its bustling warehouse. This nerve center, with more than 20,000 square feet nestled in the Grand Concourse section of the Bronx, is truly the company’s lifeblood.

Now the business is moving. Due to issues beyond control, (the landlord sold the entire building), Found Object is relocating to a different borough. Their new home will be based in a warehouse space within the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Bay Ridge – only a blip away on a map, but an eternity when truckload after truckload of goods are involved.

The already hectic pace of business has now become chaotic as the team works diligently through the early morning hours, avoiding the daytime traffic. It’s been a mini-nightmare, to say the least, but the light at the end of the tunnel is now visible, and soon things should be back to normal.

So, what is “normal” business at Found Object?

The busy warehouse receives shipments from all over the world on a regular basis. Product arrives by air, sea and even hand courier from India, China, Turkey, Morocco, and any other place Jude and Salvo visit on their frequent travels.

At this stage in the game, Found Object is up to 20 flash sales a month, up from four or five per month at the onset of business almost a year ago. Sales run the gamut from home décor and unique kids’ products, to jewelry and accessories, such as bags and scarves. Newest to the sale roster are pet goods, with an upcoming sale of doggie beds from Morocco.

Prepping for Sale

Each shipment arrives at the warehouse and is unpacked by Jude and her team; each piece is examined and counted. Every single item for sale then must be photographed. First, the piece is cleaned or ironed, then prepped, styled and propped to show its features. A professional photographer, Andrey, often works all day shooting piece after piece. Multiple shots of each item are needed to highlight specific details, such as a unique embroidery stitch or artistic trim, offer an accurate representation of size, and create a sense of lifestyle usage for the item.

Organization, organization, organization

After the photo shoot, each image is downloaded into Found Object’s internal network system. Images are then individually edited – cropped and silo’ed, whitened or lightened, and sized to scale based on each particular website’s image parameters. Images and actual items are both labeled, assigned a fixed stock number and then each piece is repackaged for sale and shipping.

Then Kristen takes over. Kristen creates the item sheet for each sale. She downloads images to the sale website and includes specific details for every single item – exact dimensions, shipping dimensions, material content, such as silk or cotton or bronze or wood, item weight, shipping weight, item description and history, product care, and more. Kristen then sends the spreadsheet to the appropriate partner. One can clearly see the importance of organization and attention to detail, and Kristen is very organized and pays great attention!

Once an item has been sold on a site, it gets pulled, packed and shipped within 48 hours by a team of conscientious staff. Orders come in daily from multiple sales, some of which last for days, many of which overlap. Ana Maria, the warehouse manager, oversees all incoming deliveries and ensures the smooth operation of all outgoing shipments.

And the cycle continues…

Product is constantly coming in, and Jude and Salvo regularly travel the globe for new ideas and product. Recently, Jude received a shipment of beautiful hand crocheted children’s rugs. It was quite a surprise when she opened the package as she had completely forgotten about the order, which had been placed over five months ago. Only recently had the intricate work been completed. Now it’s time to start photography and item cataloging again…

Upcoming Found Object Sales

TheFoundary.com – Kantha Blankets & Throw Pillows, August 15, 2012
Gilt.com – Apartment Therapy, August 18, 2012
Fab.com – Turkish Towels, August 18 2012
Fab.com – Rose and Stone Jewelry, August 18 2012
Fab.com – Kantha Scarves, August 18 2012
Fab.com – Ikat Bags & Totes, August 21 2012
Fab.com – Man Cave, August 23 2012

Jasper & Salvo in China

At Found Object, the entire family is involved in the day-to-day business. Even the kids. Recently, Salvo decided to take his twelve-year-old son, Jasper, with him on a trip to China, exposing him to the business world and an exciting new culture.

The intent of the trip was to visit established suppliers, catch up with an overseas buyer, as well as to uncover ideas for new and fun products.  Meetings had been planned in both Hong Kong and Shanghai. Since Jasper had been studying Mandarin for the past two years and was off for the summer holidays, Salvo, the good Dad he is, thought it would be a great learning experience, possibly for the both of them.

On the United flight to Hong Kong the duo caught up on all the movies they had missed over the past few months. When the flight is 15 hours plus, it’s probably one of the best ways to kill time.

Once they emerged from the plane, groggy and foggy, they were hit with sweltering 98 degree heat and 100% humidity. Already Salvo had decided to skip the fun fair that was probably Jasper’s primary reason for making the trip. It would be business as usual – in air conditioning. The two were picked up by their cousins and whisked away to their home for two days on Hong Kong Island.

The next day, Salvo and Jasper explored the downtown area and Soho. After hours of strolling and still numb from the jet lag, they decided a foot massage was in order.

One of Jasper’s favorite things about Hong Kong was the food, especially the Shanghai style soup dumplings and Peking duck. He really didn’t practice his Chinese when ordering though, because the food was quite different than anything he had ever eaten in New York.

After Salvo concluded meetings with clients, the dynamic duo left for Shanghai, the city where buildings are as tall as the eye can see. Since land is scarce, the solution is to build ever skyward.

This time around, Salvo decided to bring Jasper along to the scheduled meetings, hoping to show him the ropes. Jasper listened, took all the information in, and explained to Salvo what he should do in each situation. It appears that twelve-year-olds have very strong business opinions.

The last leg of the trip was to a furniture factory in Guangzhou, where Salvo hoped to get some ideas for new designs. Recently he has been working on the development of a kids’ furniture collection for the fall, and he and Jude have been upholstering classic seating in vibrant ikat and suzani fabrics.

After the short flight from Shanghai to Guangzhou, Salvo and Jasper were picked up and given a lengthy tour of the factory and showroom.

Later, they were dropped off at the ferry port for a boat back to Hong Kong. Here, the young, female Chinese ticket agents made a big fuss over Jasper, telling him he was beautiful with his blond curly hair and blue eyes. They told him he looked like Justin Bieber and wanted to take photos with him.

 

Exhausted after a 2 a.m. arrival in the port of Hong Kong, they headed to their hotel and crashed. The next day they boarded their flight back to New York and Jasper slept the entire way home.

Just one week of travel, but a worthwhile one at that. Jasper’s eyes were opened to the colorful Land of the Dragon, as well as the inner workings of the business world, while Salvo received some “useful” tips regarding his next steps.

 

Make sure to check out our upcoming events:

7/25/2012 Fab.de Found Object Kantha Scarves
7/27/2012 RueLaLa London Calling – Flour Sacks
7/28/2012 HomeSav Found Object Suzani Cubes
7/29/2012 Foundary Found Object Kantha Bags

Bridgehampton Show

Found Object was excited to be part of the Bridgehampton Antiques & Design Fair, which ran three days this past weekend, Friday through Sunday, July 13-15 at the Bridgehampton Community House, 2357 Montauk Highway, Bridgehampton, NY.

The Fair hosted 25 quality antique and design dealers from the U.S. and Europe with offerings covering mid-century modern, Asian, Art Deco, African, and Americana, and featured fine art, textiles, lighting, jewelry, and unusual furniture collections and decorative objects.

This event marked the very first time Found Object brought their wares to the Hamptons! Items for sale included furniture, such as suzani covered cubes and ottomans, silk and velvet ikat pillows, kantha throws, hand-made jewelry with many objects Jude has collected over the years, as well as hand-embroidered pashmina scarves and leather trimmed silk ikat bags. The team worked non-stop for the two weeks prior to the show preparing new offerings.

Salvo and Jude left the Bronx early last Wednesday with a large truck loaded with goods for the show. Set-up was chaotic as the duo unpacked and organized the Found Object booth. Having very good friends in the Hamptons proved a big benefit, as another set of hands to help carry the bags was much appreciated.

Thursday was another day of arranging and organizing, but ended with a special preview cocktail hour in the evening.

The show went even better than expected.  During the set-up stage, even before the show had started, a friend of a friend came by, filled her entire car with suzani pillows and took them all home to test out. She ended up buying five pieces and a scarf – all before the show even started!


Based on the great response, Found Object is going back to the Hamptons. Although the Southampton Souk show was full, Found Object managed to cajole a space for this week’s event.  Hope to see you this Thursday and Friday in the Hamptons!  Your invitation is below.

Finding a Home for Found Objects

Even before she started the business, Jude was already an avid collector of “found objects” she would discover during her day-to-day excursions and overseas jaunts.    Many of these exotic trinkets – wart hog tusks, antique rings, rattan pearls, colorful stones, silk tassels, African glass and bone beads, Ethiopian crosses – all of which desperately needed a home, have wound up in handmade necklaces.

An interesting, global story often lies behind Jude’s discoveries, rendering her jewelry all the more alluring and appealing.

Take wart hog tusks for instance. Jude found the first one on a key chain at a mall in Cape Town. She scoured the city and soon had access to as many raw, hollow pieces as she wanted. However, they needed to be trimmed, filled and capped if they were to be fashioned for a necklace. She tapped a jewelry artisan in Turkey, who was excited to take on this handmade project.

Buddhist sandalwood beads soon became one of the primary vehicles for many “found objects”. Likewise, colorful glass trade beads from Africa. In Turkey, Jude found hand painted silk tassels, which she now has custom made to combine with the glass and sandalwood beads.

Ethiopian crosses made from low grade silver have also made their way onto many necklaces. Jude found Coptic crosses available in all sizes, from tiny pendants to enormous table tops.

A dealer in Turkey sold her enough vintage African bone beads for three necklaces.           To incorporate them into a necklace each bead had to be knotted in between, like pearls, so they wouldn’t rub against each other. That same dealer then cast six replicas of Ottoman seals, which were added to the pieces.

Other great discoveries include vintage and replica Ottoman rings from Turkey. Many are made from oxidized silver and polished brass and inlaid with low grade gems, such as rubies. Wooden Indian Bodhi beads inlaid with brass, as well as sandalwood beads, are often used to display the rings.

Many of Jude’s pieces are available for purchase.

To see a calendar of all Found Object upcoming sales, please click here.

Explosion of Color – Ikat fabrics from Uzbekistan

The Silk Road was once the source for much of the world’s luxury goods, from precious stones and jewels, to spices, gold and ivory. Not to mention, textiles. The stunning ikat fabrics awash in bold colors and vibrant patterns simply awed traders back in the day. From the moment material traveled west, ikat became a major influence on the design world and still does today.

The textiles from Uzbekistan are especially alluring. Thousands of individual threads are tie-dyed in intricate patterns, then untied and woven into fabric on very narrow looms. The finished material is so elaborate that designs are often mistaken for prints. The dazzling patterns have since woven their way into many facets of design and fashion, such as bedding, linens, curtains, porcelain, clothing and upholstered furniture.

Jude has long been awed by these Uzbeki gems, especially ikats made from silk and silk/velvet. Through Found Object, she has created pieces that take full advantage of the wonderful colors and patterns.

Jude and Salvo typically purchase fabric in Turkey from suitcase wielding couriers who they encounter by way of their vast connections. The material is then shipped to the Bronx where workers sew the patterns together to make pillows, cube ottomans and totes.  The process is not simple due to width limitations, especially when crafting larger pieces.

On one family visit to Turkey, the luxurious fabrics were even a hit with Indi, Salvo and Leslie’s two-year old daughter. The trio plus Jude were brought to buyers on the outskirts of Istanbul. In a small building, they passed through room after room until finally they hit on the mother lode – a space full of material exploding in color. Intoxicated by the visual overload, Indi jumped from pile to pile, beaming with delight.

Revel in the world of ikat at our upcoming sales:

ikat and leather bags on Fab.com, starting June 11th

ikat silk and velvet pillows on RueLaLa.com, starting June 20th

ikat silk pillow collection on Fab.com, starting June 30th

ikat silk pillows on Gilt.com, starting June 30th

 

Our recent vintage ikat porcelain sale was a huge hit and pieces sold out quickly!