Metalware designer Beatriz Ball understands that home should be a source of warmth and comfort. Accordingly, her handmade creations express an appealing, organic sense of flow, and that ease and elegance is matched by their durability and utility. These pieces are certainly not just for show — they can go in the oven and fridge, they don’t tarnish — but they do call out to be prominently displayed.
The young women who buy her pieces, Ball says, have busy lives and want “fewer and finer things” that serve multiple purposes. “There’s a relaxed, user-friendly element to my designs,” says Ball, who started her company in 1991. “Young women see one of my pieces and think their mothers had something like it, but this is their own version.”
The human touch
That sense of familiarity stems in part from the production process: Using techniques that date back to ancient times, the artisans at Ball’s foundry in her native Mexico City cast the designs in sand, making molds that are then filled with a premium aluminum alloy. After they cool, the pieces proceed through three levels of hand polishing.
“We tried to introduce machinery to our manufacturing process, but did not like the results,” Ball says. “We found that our pieces lost their soul.”
Ball, who calls New Orleans home, has exhibited at NY NOW since 2003, when she started out “literally up against the back wall.” The show, she says, “is like having a flagship store on Fifth Avenue, where we can display our products to the best buyers from around the globe.”
Up till now, she’s worked exclusively in metal, but this summer at NY NOW, she’ll introduce her first designs in glass, wood, and ceramics. It’s just one more example of how she makes her customers feel taken care of.
“The challenge is to remain relevant,” Ball says. “We are very much aware of how our customers’ lifestyles change, and how they live and entertain, and we constantly reinvent ourselves.”
Like its founder and CEO, Finell doesn’t follow anyone else’s lead. “I think all companies should be developing their own new ideas. I don’t look at trends,” says Rebecca Finell. “Instead, I design what I think is the future of modern.”
Finell founded her namesake lifestyle brand in January 2013, after selling two previous companies, including Boon, which has grown into a respected player in the baby gear industry. The hallmarks of all of her ventures have been her products’ utility and pared-down aesthetic.
For those who care about quality
“They appreciate design, and the simplicity of a thoughtful product,” Finell says of her customers. “Design is the first thing people notice about the brand. The second is our unique functions and use of materials.”
Price points for the Finell brand range from $55 to $895, covering a wide range of demographics, from upwardly mobile twentysomethings to established consumers with higher incomes and multiple residences. She notes: “Although the houseware and handbag categories are generally thought of as designed for women buyers, we have a strong male demographic, even with the handbags.”
New classics and old favorites
This summer’s show will be the brand’s fourth appearance at NY NOW. “We love being a part of the curated Accent on Design section,” Finell says. “It helps the design-driven buyers find us.”
The company will introduce its fine dinnerware line at the show. “We really wanted something made from fine materials that could also be used as everyday casual,” Finell says. “We wanted to keep the design sleek and classic, while offering our unique utility.”
And of course, its best sellers — Orb serving bowls, Join place mats, the aforementioned handbags — will be on exhibit, too. “They offer a utility that no other product in the market does,” Finell promises. “They could stand alone as beautiful design objects.”
As a jet-setting Ford model and a fire-eater with Penn & Teller, Carol Perkins had accomplished plenty. But it was in 1997, after brain surgery following a debilitating battle with Cushing’s disease, that she truly found her motivation. “Dogs were the only things that had made me happy during my illness,” she says. “They don’t judge you; they love you unconditionally, even when you are sick.”
While recovering, Carol meticulously hand-sewed exquisite textiles into distinctive dog beds, toys, and robes. She simply found it therapeutic, but when a national magazine published a photo of the toile bed she’d gifted a friend’s pug, her phone began ringing off the hook with orders. Relying solely on her talent and advice from an entrepreneurial friend, Carol grew her new business from her Manhattan loft to a manufacturing base in Savannah, Georgia. Today, Harry Barker — she named her beloved Sheltie for the company, as well — has evolved into a multimillion-dollar business selling treats, toys, and accessories in 17 countries.
Carol’s passion goes beyond drool-worthy doggie goods — she’s also dedicated to sustainability. Harry Barker products are made from repurposed materials and, she notes, frequently find a home alongside second-chance pets. Carol also nurtures community partnerships with organizations like Canines for Veterans, the International African-American Museum, and the Hope Center of Charleston, where Harry Barker dog treats are hand-packed by people with disabilities in a skills training program.
Toys on trend
The company’s top sellers include toys made from tug rope, canvas, and rubber, and the Bark ’n Go collection. Functional, affordable, and beautiful, Harry Barker has been a hit at NY NOW since 2006. “The buyers, market editors, and exhibitors are world-class, dynamic influencers who are on trend and not easily impressed,” Carol observes. With that in mind, she’ll introduce several unique products at 2015’s summer market, including a Matisse-inspired paper-cut dog biscuit tin. Naturally, a portion of the proceeds from the paper-cut collection will go to the Charleston Animal Society no-kill shelter.
The centuries-old art of candle-making has inspired Craig Davies since 1996, when he began designing unique candles — which he calls a “great functional handmade craft.” After his first company, Tahoe Candle, sprawled beyond the confines of his kitchen, Davies made the leap into retail, while maintaining a personal touch by creating candles on the premises, in full view of his clientele. In 2011, his wife, Amy, came on board and they poured their collective passions for the environment, animal rescue, and design into Rescued Wine.
Rescued Wine candles are crafted from 100 percent soy wax, hand-poured into repurposed wine bottles, and infused with luscious, wine-inspired fragrances. Customers love the distinct packaging and uncommonly appealing aromas. “Our Cabernet candle is our best-selling candle,” Davies says. “The fragrance is a combination of flavors and aromas of dark chocolate and sweet cherries with a rich finish of herbs.”
Craft blended with responsibility
The Sauvignon Blanc candle evokes cool citrus notes and lingering hints of cut grass, while functioning as a beautiful example of artisanal upcycling. The wine bottles Davies uses are always collected, cleaned, and cut by hand.
And although he’s thrilled to fill homes with fragrance and light, he is equally enthused by his company’s commitment to social responsibility. Davies donates a portion of all sales to animal rescue. He and Amy also bring their dog, Coco, to the studio and encourage employees to do the same with their pets.
The scent of success
Clearly, the formula is working. Rescued Wine recently moved into a much larger studio, boasting more room for people and pups, and expects to expand its retail footprint soon.
2015 marks the third appearance for Rescued Wine at NY NOW. Davies looks forward to engaging with retail opportunities on both a regional and national scale. In addition to classic scents — crisp Chardonnay, woodsy Pinot Noir — Rescued Wine is excited to debut a new seasonal candle at the summer market. “It’s truly a candle that anyone will proudly display in their home for the holidays,” Davies promises.