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Previews, Show Recap

Hilary Farr's First Rug Collection: Why Kaleen's Customers "Love It"

The making of a celebrity designer licensed rug collection can range from tacit approval to hands-on nitty-gritty -- and Hilary Farr's mega rug launch with Kaleen falls into the latter category.

By Carol Tisch
Male and Female Standing Together
Monty Rathi of Kaleen and licensing partner Hilary Farr of Hilary Farr Designs meet with VIP buyers and designers at the exclusive High Point Market launch of their inaugural rug collections.

HIGH POINT, N.C. -- The making of a celebrity designer licensed rug collection can range from tacit approval to hands-on nitty gritty -- and Hilary Farr's mega rug launch with Kaleen falls into the latter category.

So says Monty Rathi, COO for Kaleen, telling, "I've worked with many celebrities over the years, but Hilary is different. She is hands-on. She created the looks she wanted, and came to Dalton [Georgia] three times to work with my design team as the collection progressed."
A cross-merchandised display of Hilary Farr Designs products at Kaleen's showroom featured a wool Knotted Earth rug on the floor and two Critter Comforts jacquard designs on a rear wall.
The star of HGTV's Love it or List It, Farr created original designs that resonated with customers -- with Rathi reporting a 50 percent increase in buyer traffic to the High Point showroom at the October market. "We were also very pleased to see a lot of her fans, interior designers, design students and even North Carolina state legislators all wanting to meet Hilary," he said "Our customers really responded well to her designs. Her collection brings something very unique and exciting to Kaleen and the rug industry as a whole.
"I'd say the collection is 99.99 percent influenced by her. She gave us her vision, and our designers interpreted the vision into finished rugs," Rathi explained. Coming to the rug design process without any preconceived limitations was an advantage for Farr, he said. "The designs are outside the bar. You won't see them anywhere else in the markets."
At her home, Hilary Farr reviews rug samples from her machine-woven Global Altitude collection by Kaleen and decides she loves them all. The blue, gray and white glacial colorway was a best seller at market.
Farr's Must-Haves
As an interior designer and HGTV host Farr understands the balance between client wants and needs. But as a licensor, she too had a wish list: "She likes a good quality heritage look that will last. She spends a lot of time outdoors, so she wanted rugs that are easy-care: easy to clean and  easy to maintain," Rathi continued.
"Hilary didn't want to place her brand with just any rug manufacturer - she is extremely passionate about sustainability, the treatment of factory workers, and animal rights. Our like-minded passions played a huge role in us working together," he explained. 
Fifty members of the North Carolina State Legislature visit the Kaleen High Point Market showroom to meet the designer for a preview of the debut collection of rugs by Hilary Farr Designs.
"Sustainability was a key point when selecting the vendor that I wanted to work with on this project," Farr recalled. "Kaleen Rugs also shares this passion of mine and was able to create my outdoor rugs from yarn that is spun from fibers made out of recycled plastic bottles.
"I was also very pleased to learn that Kaleen's factories keep their carbon footprint low by using water recycling plants, solar energy and lead-free dyes. Social responsibility was also a major concern of mine when it came to producing my collections. 
Hilary Farr Designs does a hand-tufted PET Flora Fantasies rug in a brown and grey colorway the designer likes its camouflage look in masculine rooms.
"I only wanted my designs produced in factories with clean and safe working environments along with fair pay and treatment of their factory workers. I found peace of mind in knowing that Kaleen adheres to some of the strictest guidelines such as ISO 9000 and SA8000, which protect workers' rights and ensures factories are operated using best practices."
Kaleen's Targeted Price Points
"We are covering all the distribution channels with four different products -- from a machine-made indoor collection, to a jacquard collection, a PET indoor-outdoor hand-tufted collection, and finally a hand-knotted wool collection," Rathi explained. "There is something for everyone in Hilary Farr's collections."
He said the line is geared to the full complement of High Point shoppers: furniture stores, both regional and national, designers, brick and mortar stores and e-commerce. 
A winner with High Point shoppers, the wool Knotted Earth collection by Hilary Farr Designs for Kaleen updates Persian motifs with hip fashion colors.
While Farr wanted her rugs to be affordable for a broad swath of consumers, Rathi and the Kaleen team went a step further. "We wanted her price points to hit the sweet spot for each distribution channel and construction as well," Rathi said. Machine-mades [Global Altitude] retail at $199 MAP and come with the added value of serged edges and a backing that makes them look like handmade rugs; the jacquard weave collections [Critter Comforts and Forever Fauna] are $299 MAP in blended polyester and chenille; the indoor-outdoor hand-tufted PET rugs [Peranakan Tile and Flora Fantasies] are $399 MAP, and the hand-knotted wool [Knotted Earth] rugs are $999 MAP.
The elegant tapestry look of the jacquard weave Critter Comforts collection by Hilary Farr Designs for Kaleen is unique in the market.
Top Sellers
Rathi said that overall, all of the Hilary Farr Design collections did well, and as expected, a few stand-outs emerged within each line. "Hilary's hand knotted collection called Knotted Earth definitely won over some customer's hearts with traditional design done in a modern, slightly muted and distressed color palette. 
From the Peranakan Tile collection, this saturated deep red colorway is one of celebrity designer Hilary Farr's favorites in her debut line for Kaleen.
"Another huge hit was her machine-made Global Altitude collection." he reported. "The ultra-soft, high and low pile combined with the three colorways really seemed to be popular with customers. The Glacial colorway was a hit, and we were pleasantly surprised by the response to the Desert colorway."
Farr also had favorites in each collection -- from the brown palette of the Flora Fantasies design with its masculine camouflage look, to the unexpected acid green traditional Persian medallion design in the Knotted Earth collection; to the unique high-end tapestry effect of jacquard weave insect and animal patterns, and deep saturated colorways in her Peranakan Tile designs.
The soft Desert colorway in the Global Altitude collection by Hilary Farr Designs was well received in High Point for its upscale look at opening price points.
Impact on Sales
"Based on orders of Hilary's collection that have already started to come in, the program will have an immediate impact on our 2020 revenue," Rathi said. "Moving forward we are working with Hilary on expanding her line and growing future sales. Since Hilary has come aboard, we have seen a significant increase in our media exposure and online brand presence which has ultimately contributed to an increase of sales for the fourth quarter," he added.
Monty Rathi of Kaleen and Hilary Farr pose with Steve Winterson and Hilary Repa of The Rug Merchant in Rockland, Massachusetts, at a Kaleen showroom packed with fans during High Point Market.
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