Selling five Chesterfields yesterday (October 29) alone, Ruth Olbrych – our US sales manager responsible for selling furniture via our US site – has certainly been busy of late. Ruth, owner of Antiques by ZAAR – a retailer over in North Carolina selling Chinese antiques – regularly makes connections with and sells our stunning handmade furniture to Chesterfield fans over in the US. From our workshop here in the UK, we ship one container comprising 20 to 25 pieces of furniture every five to six weeks. In short, business from our US base is booming – and it shows no signs of letting up, says Ruth.
Here in a lighthearted Q&A, Ruth tells all about her role as US sales manager. Enjoy…
Distinctive Chesterfields: What’s the best thing about your role as USA sales representative for the brand and what’s been a personal highlight for you so far?
Ruth: When I agreed to serve as US sales rep for Distinctive, I was unaware of the traction the company already had with their well-crafted, and easy to find website. Having my phone ring off the hook for people excited to have landed on us, is a continual highlight for me. And to part one of your question, I get extreme pleasure representing a product of integrity and high value, working with the fine people in the UK that create and represent the brand.
Distinctive Chesterfields: What do you think it is about the Chesterfield brand that appeals to the American market so much?
Ruth: I think it is due to its classic look that a Chesterfield offers is appealing to many Americans. An added element is that this British born product is actually being produced in the UK, its birth place. That is very cool. It doesn’t hurt that shows like Downton Abbey are such a big hit with the American population as well. So many of us want a bit of that old world feel in our home. I also think it’s a really cool thing that each piece is crafted uniquely for each customer. That in and of itself is something special.
Distinctive Chesterfields: If you could describe the Chesterfield in just three words, which words would you pick?
Ruth: Classic. British. Substantial.
Distinctive Chesterfields: You’re due to take delivery of one of our hugely comfortable sofa beds, I hear. But which other Chesterfield pieces, if any, do you have on your wish list?
Ruth: Oh yes I am, and I am very excited, but not as excited as my husband is as he has ALWAYS wanted a classic leather buttoned sofa AND a library to go with it. Little did he know that when I decided to move my office upstairs that I would free my old office for him to have what he always wanted. So, buying this piece was easy as he knew what he wanted – traditional as they come in deep red, and we needed a sofa bed, so that narrowed the choices…thankfully.
If I had a choice I don’t know what I would do, as I love so many of them, but have to say that I am always, always drawn to the Drummond in Devil Arabica (pictured below), as shown on the website. It simply appeals to me at all levels. Elegant, warm, soft and yes, classic.
Distinctive Chesterfields: How do you see the brand evolving over the coming months/years?
Ruth: I’ve been with Distinctive a full year now and I can’t believe how the activity toward the product just grows and grows. On average I’m posting 20 catalogues/leather swatch samples out weekly. Calls in daily and emails out daily. One container on the water and filling another before it even leaves – just rolling along in a beautiful rhythm. Distinctive has certainly created a niche for themselves in the US market and I’m very excited to be participating in this.
Distinctive Chesterfields: Tell us a little about your own interiors tastes. How would you ‘style’ a Chesterfield in your own home?
Ruth: My home reflects the places we’ve lived, with items from the faraway places of residence being prominent, that being Haiti, Thailand and Taiwan . My style I would call personal, eclectic, and colorful. Case in point I am in the process of having my walls painted in my home and colors such as black raspberry, citrus burst, sterling forest, umbria red, balboa mist, Chicago and varsity blues, ALL will be found on my walls soon. Furniture, heavy on the Asian which is personal on so many levels and I simply continue to be drawn to the genre.
As far as placing a chesterfield in my home…answered above. It will be the center point of our new den/library, which also houses a baby grand piano we can’t seem to give up. This room will serve as a retreat. A place to curl up with a book, write a personal (handwritten) letter, listen to music, sip on wine…yes, it will be a great room for that, surrounded by books, plants and family photos.
Distinctive Chesterfields: Finally, what’s in the pipeline for Distinctive Chesterfields in its USA base? And for your own business, Antiques by Zaar?
Ruth: If I were to put my two cents in, I would like to see a steady flow of product coming into the High Point Showroom, and just as steadily going out, which is what we anticipate promoting as the “quick ship” program. Personally I am excited to be part of the growing momentum the brand is experiencing. It really juices me up, to represent a company that puts out great product AND to have as many happy customers as we get…not to mention all the folks at Distinctive are so great to work with. Simply a win, win, win.
In addition to fostering the continuing growth of custom pieces being produced for individuals, I would like to see the “quick ship” program blossom, with continual flow of pieces coming in and going out.
Antiques by Zaar, my business of the past 13 years, is based on similar premise of Distinctive. Bring good value direct from the source to the customer. Keep overheads down so you can offer niche pricing. You can do this by using a website as your store front (built with intention of selling, not just presenting) that represents you well and a voice that supports that. Antiques by Zaar and Distinctive offer me products that I can passionately present and sell and be that voice for. My life is full and exciting for the work I am so privileged to have with Distinctive and ZAAR alike.
Want to order a Chesterfield for delivery in the US? No worries; simply head to our US site and view our range.
A big thank you to Ruth for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions!