Location: New York, NY
FILLING THE NEST
Arlee Home Fashions designs, manufactures and distributes home textiles and decorative accessories. The company launched a pet products division in 2008. “Baby boomers brought forth a huge wave of empty nesters, many of whom with buying powers that far exceed previous generations,” says Sean Frankel, Arlee’s president. Those boomers often bought pets. “This throng of new pet parents also demonstrated a desire and willingness to treat their pets more as members of their family, and to spend more on bedding and accessories than ever before,” thus fueling the company’s growth, says Frankel.
Quick Tip: “If you expect your team to work hard, produce consistently and of high quality, and be accountable, you need to lead by example without taking over for them.”
The primary challenge for Arlee has been scalability. “We created a business model based on the ability to provide every retailer … far greater customization than previously available within the big-box marketplace. However, overseas manufacturing doesn’t allow for such flexibility without enormous carrying costs and high demands on factory production,” says Frankel. In addition, the average retailer pet-bed order does not consume the minimum fabric required by the mills to weave, dye and print. “We elected, where necessary, to buy the fabric directly from the mill,” says Frankel. “This allowed us to negotiate fabric weaving and dying minimums to our advantage and gave us ownership of the fabric, thereby relieving the financial strain on the factory.”