Industry Views - August 2012

Nancy Koltes Reinvents

Eleanor’s Ribbon linens (above) were selected by interior designer Michael Smith for the White House master suite. The Obamas were so pleased that they ordered Eleanor’s Ribbon linens for their Chicago residence as well. (Nancy Koltes, 800-643-1755, nancykoltes.com)

Nancy Koltes began her luxury linens company of the same name in 1984, opening an office in N.Y.’s Flatiron District at 900 Broadway. Recognizing the need to adapt to changing times, in 2012 she reinvented her business, adopting a made-to-order model with the cut-and-sew done in Chicago, and relocating to a showroom “on the beaten path” in Suite 1906 at 230 Fifth Ave.

Q: Why did you change your business model?

“The market has changed. The retail customer base isn’t begging for inventory, but for goods as needed. Retailers are more cautious now.

“In Europe, they sell only sheet sets with no open stock and they only have two sizes. In the U.S., we have five sizes. Before I changed the model, I had 27,000 skus with all the combinations and cross merchandising. Our new business model is more efficient and gives longer life to my raw materials.

“You have to be flexible, nimble and retain a sense of humor to roll with the punches.”

Q: What is your design direction today?

“I’d been in a serene state the past couple of years. My reaction to the traumatic economic times had been to create understated designs with spa-like colors. Today, I’m incorporating more color, with deep chocolate and touches of pastel for the New York Home Textiles Market. I’ve reworked old favorites, such as the acanthus pattern (shown at top), with different colors and they’ve been well received. My collections last a long time, so it’s more a matter of layering in some new things each market. We offer a broad range of products with varied color stories and price points.”


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