Blackband Home and Design
Interview with Greg & Wendy Blackband
Owners: Greg & Wendy Blackband
Store Name: Blackband Home and Design
When did you open your store?
Greg & Wendy: We opened our first retail furniture store over 10 years ago. Our retail business has grown, and at the frequent requests of our customers so has our interior design and renovation services. We also work with builders and realtors to “Showcase” (home stage) high-end houses that are on the market.
How did you get started in the business?
G & W: We both come from a corporate marketing background and wanted to own a business together. Wendy’s mom is an artist and a professor at UCLA in Design and Architecture, while her dad is a custom home builder. Both parents have been a great inspiration from early on. We have always been interested in design, and have even “flipped” several houses. This process led to the creative design services that we now provide to our interior design clients.
What do you love about owning the shop?
G & W: We get to work together every day and create beautiful spaces, both in our retail store & showroom, and also for our clients on the design and renovation side of our business.
What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of the business?
G & W: There are not enough hours in the day! Keeping a good balance between work and home life seems to be our biggest challenge. We love what we do and it is difficult to turn it off!
“I always tell our team, ‘Be kind. Stay enthusiastic. Do great work. It’s that simple!'”
Tell us about your team members.
G & W: We are fortunate to have an extremely talented team. We have seven full time designers, and two showroom designers. They are hardworking, smart, and use a fresh approach with every customer and design client. Our team is hip and cool, and they all have great style in both fashion and interior design; they keep us current and relevant!
What is the importance of customer service to you?
G & W: Customer service and satisfaction are our two most important goals with every client and customer interaction. The majority of our business is either referral-based or began with a customer walking into our store. It brings our team great joy to see our clients thrilled with our design work and loving all of our customized products. All of our clients have referred us or have come back for more-that tells us we’re doing a good job.
What is your favorite entertaining or design tip?
G & W: Keep things simple! With respect to our favorite design tip, we generally suggest to clients to start with a neutral palette for large pieces. This way, you can add layers through custom drapes, pillows and accessories while still maintaining a clean look. We absolutely love fabrics!
From an entertaining perspective, we like to serve meals that are delicious, fresh, and uncomplicated. We entertain every weekend and love Sunday night dinners with our family. We encourage our family and friends to bring their favorite dishes, and to help us out in the kitchen. People love to be a part of things, and we love the help! This optimizes our time with our friends and family and makes for a comfortable evening.
Do you have any favorite pieces in the store right now?
G & W: Custom reclaimed dining or coffee tables are some of our favorites right now. We have many custom and cool handmade pillows in our store; we especially love the indigo and batik pillows! We are featuring interesting artwork and photography from local artists and unusual one-of-a-kind items.
What is something you have learned in the business that you didn’t expect?
G & W: The importance of a great space plan, and how drapery can completely transform a room.
What items are your best sellers?
G & W: We are selling a lot of reclaimed wood furniture pieces; we have an English roll arm sofa that is popular, as well as our bobbin occasional chair. We’re selling loads of indigo and batik pillows. The Asian inspired blue and white lamps also sell well and complement most rooms and color ways. We have beautiful throws in many colors and lots of unique and fun accessories. Come see for yourself!
What sets your business apart from online shopping?
G & W: Our showroom is designed to showcase our products in vignettes similar to what you would see in a home. It helps customers see the finish, the size, or the scale of items they are considering for their home. We feature bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, and sitting areas.
We encourage both our retail customers and our design clients to spend time in our store, to sit on a sofa, a chair, lie on a bed, and experience the comfort and design of Blackband. It also lends credibility to our furniture and design as clients can see first-hand the quality and integrity of our work and our product. The tangibility of seeing it and experiencing it first hand is something you just don’t get online.
Do you have a favorite customer story?
G & W: A customer once asked if we would mind coming out to her home to place a few accessories. It was a small request which ultimately led to designing three separate homes, along with multiple referrals from those homes. You never know where a smaller project can lead!
Are there any restaurants or other local shops in the area that you like to visit?
G & W: We are located just off of Main Street in an industrial warehouse space near John Wayne Airport. There is an Indian restaurant, Vishnu, which serves an incredible Indian lunch buffet. We love the food there; it is truly amazing!