Brand Loyalty – A Method to the Madness

April 8, 2019

In our April issue, KBB interviewed several designers to find out how they source the products for their kitchen and bath projects, as there are a variety of ways in which they can do so. Here is an addendum to that discussion, which includes three more designers’ input.

Tina Ramchandani, Tina Ramchandani Creative, New York City
According to the designer, she and her team have developed a curated list of products they love to use, find interesting and of which they appreciate the quality. Whenever they discover a product or brand that meets these criteria, it is added to the list.

They find these products and learn what is new to the market by attending major trade shows, showroom openings and brand launches. Ramchandani also finds trade magazines invaluable to her line of work.

“I love seeing what other designers are interested in, their top product picks and what’s trending in areas outside of New York,” she added. “They are also a great place to learn about hardships in the industry in an honest and insightful way.”

The designer and her team value supporting brand and vendor relationships that have proven themselves over the years in terms of product quality, customer service and attention to detail.

Top-notch customer service goes a long way,” she said. “There are so many moving parts in any given project, and something will inevitably go wrong. Having someone on the vendor side who can help when this occurs is priceless, especially when going to bat for clients who are spending big money for things to be right.”

This and the photo above are from a kitchen Weiss designed. She specified a sink from Blanco, Thermador appliances, Top Knobs hardware, a Kohler faucet and floor tile from Flaviker.

Meredith Weiss, Merri Interiors, Commack, N.Y.
The designer typically attends industry events to stay on top of trends and new product lines, and she loves to read trade magazines and follow hashtags on social media. She says while she orders most of her kitchen products online, she prefers to visit showrooms when selecting plumbing fixtures.

“I am my own dealer for cabinetry and countertops but will go to showrooms with clients to assist in their selections of tile, plumbing and lighting,” explained Weiss.

She says her vendor relationships have allowed her to help her clients procure the best products for their projects, adding that she receives more flexibility from the rules of regular customer since her buying power increases because of quantity.

Just like my clients, I want knowledgeable staff to teach me and keep me out of harm’s way,” said Weiss. “They can also give me pointers to share with my installers of a specific item so they are on the cutting edge of proper installation.”

For this bathroom project, Freitas chose Lunada Bay and MSI tile, a sink and toilet from DXV, cabinets by David Law Cabinetry, cabinet pulls from Atlas Homewares and Possini Euro wall sconces.

Roseann Freitas, Archipelago Hawaii, Kialua, Ha.
Because of her location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Freitas sources and purchases her major appliances and plumbing fixtures through local trade vendors; without them she says it would be impossible to coordinate the shipping.

“With limited land space in Hawaii and the high costs, there are very few vendors who stock product on an island,” she explained. “Because products and materials are brought in by ships, this increases the delivery time to the island. For appliances, it can be a six- to eight-week lead time, and shipping costs can sometimes be more than the product itself. This requires the design team/contractor to plan in advance and work with the longer lead times to determine when the contractor can start construction.”

To the designer, the most important qualities of her vendor relationships include customer service.

“Our showroom rep goes the extra step for us to get all the information we need,” explained Freitas. “We send her the plans for the house, along with our choice of brands and styles, and she figures out where everything will go, including all the rough-ins. She truly makes our jobs easier.”

Freitas attends industry events and reads trade publications to get a leg up on new products before they are available in the showroom.

Lisa Davenport, Lisa Davenport Designs, Middlefield, Conn. & Naples, Fla.
The designer plans to build more brand relationships this year and says the most important quality of those is their support of the design industry. She attends industry events to learn about new offerings and occasionally uses a buyer’s guide.

Davenport purchases products and materials almost exclusively from brick-and-mortar locations because she enjoys supporting local businesses and giving her clients the ability to “kick the tires.”

“Client feedback is invaluable to our success, but that doesn’t mean I won’t push the envelope and share with them new products,” said the designer. “Those choices depend on success with past products and customer service, which only makes my job easier and feeds to the success of my reputation.”