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License Partners, Show Recap

Nicole Curtis Tells All – How the Rehab Addict Star Finally Got into Licensing

RugNews.com meets HGTV design expert Nicole Curtis at High Point Market to uncover the backstory to her successful new licensing program with Nourison for rugs and pillows.

Carol Tisch
Rehab Addict star Nicole Curtis sitting in front of washable rug display at high point
HGTV celebrity design star Nicole Curtis visits High Point Market to introduce her area rugs, decorative pillows,
and accent rugs for Nourison.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – Fans of HGTV star Nicole Curtis had lots to see at Nourison’s High Point Market showroom, where the design expert met with market shoppers to show off her three new area rug collections, a complementary decorative pillow line and accent rugs.

Now starring in Rehab Addict Rescue, a spinoff of her series, Rehab Addict, Curtis has traveled across the country to overhaul old houses that don’t meet her clients’ modern-day needs, transforming them into dream homes. “Nicole’s passion for restoring old homes and her design philosophy make for a strong partnership,” said Julie Rosenblum, Nourison VP of licensing. “The program reflects her DNA – and we made sure to hit key retail price points that consumers would respond to.” Indeed, Curtis's favorite rug in her Series 1 washable collection carries an MSRP of $166. in the 5'3" x 7'3" size.

Julie Rosenblum, Nourison VP of Licensing, and HGTV star Nicole Curtis at the Spring 2022 High Point Market
meet and greet event.

Most notably, Curtis’ washable rugs by Nourison have struck a chord with her followers. “The response to the launch of the Nicole Curtis 57 Grand partnership has been encouraging,” Rosenblum told RugNews.com. “Nicole has a very loyal, supportive consumer following and a retailer following that add to the growth in sales. Our Series 1 Washable Rug collection and our decorative pillows are retailing very well, and we look forward to what the future brings.”

In this exclusive Q&A interview in High Point, we discuss with Curtis her goals for the licensing program, her approach to design, and her penchant for homes that can be beautiful but lived in.

Among Nicole Curtis' favorite rug designs is her machine washable updated tribal style SR-102

What were your criteria for a licensing partner? Why Nourison?

: I wanted to wait for the perfect opportunity with the rugs. One of the things that’s important to me is that if I wouldn’t put it in one of our houses, then I don’t want it in my collection.

The reason we waited so long to do a separate focused line with my brand is because everything we do is historical, and everything is handmade. It’s important that anything we do looks authentic to what we have in our houses. Other companies that approached me wanted to do something modern -- designs that I would never use.

Nourison understood that in the homes I design I buy everything antique, or I make it – and that’s how I want my products to look. I would come up with these visions of a rug that was 100 years old, and we would all collaborate on the design.

What were the must-haves you communicated to Nourison?

NC: The rugs had to be easy care and stand up to kids -- I’m a mom but because I’m a designer and I’m on TV, everyone expects me to have a picture-perfect home. But we’ve always had homes that are lived-in.

We’re messy. Life is messy. I have a kindergartener and I have a 24-year-old. Our house has always been the house that everyone comes to. Everyone hangs out in our house. Everything gets ruined. And that’s why we couldn’t have nice things … But with our Nourison rugs, now we can.

Easy care was important to Nicole Curtis when creating her line with Nourison, and the line
withstood the demands of her busy household.

How involved were you in the production approval process?

: The line was designed and developed during Covid, so we couldn’t go and see the rugs being made because of travel restrictions. All the rugs came to our house, and I used them in our house to see how they performed. I actually washed them. I’m very conscious of our brand. You could have 100 people say nice things and then one person says one bad thing. I definitely didn’t want to roll out a line and have someone say ‘this is B.S. It doesn’t wash well, and it doesn’t hold up.’ It would have crushed me to have something with my name on it that didn’t hold up.

What was it like working with Nourison?

NC: It was fun working with Julie and the team because they brought new ideas that I might not have considered. I’m very stuck in what I like. Every single one of our houses has a similar look. So, working with different colors was out of my comfort zone to be quite honest. I’m a creature of habit. I wear my flannel and my jeans, and even in our house design, there are certain colors I work with. So, it was fun exploring those different options with Nourison.

Do you have a favorite rug?

NC: The red one is my absolute favorite. It looks like a rug that I found at a crappy estate sale years ago that was hanging on by a thread. That’s where we came up with these patterns. Because it’s very typical for me. I love the performance aspect of this: If you have kids and pets and you spill something on it it’s OK. And I love its design.

The Series 2 collection of rugs by Nicole Curtis for Nourison features a slightly raised texture of tufted design, handmade
from wool with silky rayon accents.

What about price point?

NC: I’m very conscious of price point. I was a house cleaner and a student teacher, so every dollar has always counted in my designs. That is the backbone of our brand and why our show is so successful. We don’t do a $100,000 dollar renovation on a room. We do an $800 renovation, because it’s reasonable and real people can do that. That was very important too. I was afraid to do expensive rug line because I wouldn’t buy one. In our house, we’d ruin it in like 30 minutes.

From the Nicole Curtis Series 3, SR303 is hand-woven of soft-to-the-touch polyester.

Have your followers on social media given feedback on the collection?

: What I see is that people find me on Instagram. I know they’ve bought one of the rugs because they’ll message me. I just got a message saying, ‘I didn’t know you made rugs – I bought this rug and saw the label with your name on it when I opened the package.’

Licensing is a no brainer for anyone going on HGTV today.

Speaking of HGTV, how did you get your start?

NC: I went to school to become a teacher; I have a degree in elementary ed. While student teaching I had a cleaning business on the side. I saw how much the people I cleaned for were paying their designers. Honestly, the designers put materials in the homes that you couldn’t clean and couldn’t keep up with. It gave me the idea to sketch my customers’ rooms. And I would leave my sketches with them. I was already redesigning my own house, so I put my personal experience to work.

Then I got into in real estate, and someone from HGTV saw a real estate photo of mine online and asked me to be a real estate expert for a one-off show about a house renovation someone had done.

The renovation was so horrible, horrible. These people had gutted a 1925 bungalow and I was supposed to say how great it was and how it raised the real estate value of the home. My face usually tells what I’m feeling. I told them: I can’t say that. This is terrible.

And they asked, ‘well who are you?’ I told them that I actually design homes.

This is 2008, when every design show was the same. And here I am with no makeup on, tearing this home apart. Someone made a joke and said ‘maybe you should have your own show.’ And I said yeah, because there isn’t anything out there like me.

Why do you think the show became so successful?

NC: When I appeared on that one-off, I had no makeup on [I really wish I had put makeup on]. It was a hit right away. They didn’t want me to talk about my mistakes [in home renovations]. It was supposed to be a one-off because they thought no one would want to see a home that had mistakes in it. But people need to understand you sometimes screw up.

Why did you slow down on the TV side of your business?

NC: We cut the TV down a lot because I wanted to be home more. We shot in Detroit and in Minneapolis for 10 years, so I’m very frugal with my time now. Now the TV is part time, and the building is full time.

I build and design. That’s it. I own the construction company; I own the houses I remodel. I build the house and sell the house. I do that all the time.

Everything in our builds to this day is done by me; everything on our shows is done by me and touched by me. I sign off on all of it. It may not be the most efficient way to run a business, but it works.

Nicole Curtis Series 1 rugs are a hit with shoppers for their updated tribal styles and washability.
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