When Andrew Corrie founded Canvas Home in 2008, the British designer and entrepreneur wanted to share his vision of offering home goods that meshed urban chic with a more relaxed country environment.
Although those two design sensibilities would seem to contradict each other, Corrie’s idea has been a success. Early on, many pieces in Canvas Home’s collection were made to fulfill specific needs in Corrie’s home. Once items passed this initial test, they were then developed for the retailer.
In the past, Canvas Home served its shoppers through brick-and-mortar stores in London and New York and online. Today, the company’s efforts are solely focused on e-commerce and it has been able to overcome some challenges during the past year’s pandemic to keep its business humming.
Recently Corrie and Susie Giovinazzo, director of Sales & Marketing for Canvas Home, spoke with Kitchenware Today to share insight on the company’s assortment, its core customers and lessons learned during the pandemic.
KITCHENWARE TODAY: Dinnerware is clearly a focus of Canvas Home’s assortment. How does the company work to differentiate its assortment?
SUSIE GIOVINAZZO: There is a handmade element to everything in the line. We design everything ourselves and then work with manufacturers. Since we look to have that handmade element in our pieces, we work with smaller, family-run factories that have been making ceramics for generations. They are the ones who are able to produce the kind of detail we’re looking for.
KWT: Regarding the factories Canvas Home works with, where are they located?
SG: We work with factories all over the world. We have glassware made in Poland, Germany and China, cutlery from Portugal and Italy and textiles from Lithuania. We have also sourced recycled glass made in Mexico and at one time had an Amish man supplying us with cutting boards.
KWT: How does Canvas Home work with its factories during the product design process?
SG: It’s really a group effort. A lot of our inspiration comes from Andrew and his wife who recognize a need for products to add to our assortment. Once we have their ideas we are off to our factories. We try and meet with them as often as we can and even during our factory tours we can come up with new ideas.
KWT: Who is the core customer of Canvas Home?
SG: We appeal to a wider array of people than one would think. Some of our strongest customers come from Zola registries and younger individuals who want to break away from traditional dinnerware patterns. They want something that is more upscale, sleek and cool. Many today are stepping up their game in the kitchen and with serving and entertaining and they have no interest in having their grandmother’s heritage patterns. We also tend to see a very strong pull from people who live along the east and west coasts of the U.S.
ANDREW CORRIE: Our products are not expensive, but they’re also not inexpensive. Some of our customers may need products for a second home, or baby boomers who want something more sophisticated. We’re also strong with registries.
KWT: How important is wedding registry to Canvas Home?
AC: Our wedding registry business is critical and a significant part of our sales. We’re grateful to have such a good following when it comes to registry. It serves as the first touchpoint with the customer so we know it’s important that we don’t disappoint. Registry allows us to create long-term relationships with customers.
SG: The rule with our team is to make sure the bride is happy and that she gets what she wants. We know that down the road they will be expanding their home or buying a vacation home. If we provide great customer service they are more likely to come back to us.
KWT: What impact did COVID have on Canvas Home’s business?
AC: We hit a bump early on with our warehouse partner in New Jersey, which at the time was the epicenter of the pandemic. The warehouse was closed for an extended period of time and we could not get our goods for a number of months. It took us about six months to be back up to full operations. It was really a challenge but we’re lucky to have incredible partners on the supply side. We were also able to get some PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) funding that helped as well. We have been back up and running for a while now and things have gone better than we anticipated.
KWT: Did you learning anything during the pandemic that helped Canvas Home?
AC: The pandemic gave us an opportunity to be honest about ourselves and see where we hit good notes and hit some less than good notes. We rationalized our inventory and focused on collections that are really powerful. We’re not going to introduce new collections because we think it’s something we have to do. We have learned that we can be smaller in scope with our assortment and have greater confidence in our ability to hit the right notes.