Sibling Success: Softline At 10
By Wanda Jankowski
|Rodney and Jason Carr, co-owner/director of sales and co-owner/ president, respectively, of Softline Home Fashions. View their lines at the Softline Home Fashions showroom in 230 Fifth Ave. during N.Y. Home Fashions Market Week.
Jason and Rodney Carr discuss how their relationship as brothers and business partners has contributed to Softline’s success as their company celebrates its 10th anniversary
Since they were young boys, Jason and Rodney Carr had been working in a family fabric business. In 2001, they left that business to begin their own: Softline Home Fashions. Jason, who is two-and-a-half years older than his brother, manages the operations and bookkeeping, while Rodney heads up the sales efforts and works the trade shows. Both brothers share their visions with the creative team that develops Softline’s product lines.
After 10 years, the company has grown in product categories, volume of product produced and number of customers. Based in Gardena, CA, the company boasts showrooms in Atlanta and New York, with an office and showroom in Quebec, Canada. This interview with the Carrs sheds light on the secrets to their success.
Q. What has it been like working with your brother?
“We have a great relationship as brothers and as business partners. As brothers, it’s a natural process to talk things over with each other. When achievements happen, we smile at each other because we know what we’ve gone through together to accomplish them,” says Jason. “As business partners, we both have the same vision and goals.”
“When we are not working,” Rodney adds, “since we both have the same kind of passion for sports, such as tennis and car racing, we’re able to put business aside and enjoy doing those kinds of activities together.”
|Softline’s Gianni Collection features lustrous faux silk panels enhanced with intricate embroidery. The grommet finish lends a modern touch to the classic styling. The design is offered in five colors.
Q. How has the company changed from when it was established?
“First we produced fabrics by the bolt, then went into ready-made curtain panels,” Rodney explains. “Over ten years, the number of skus has grown tenfold. We went from offering only standard sizes to a broader available range from standard sizes to designer lengths. We also now offer decorative pillows and shower curtains.”
“We are very aggressive in our marketing and sales efforts,” says Jason. “Today, because of the serious marketing behind the name, more doors are open to us as more retailers are aware of our company.”
Q. How have your relationships with customers changed?
“The first five years, we were growing every week and adding new customers. As the decline in the economy took place, we concentrated on deepening the rapport with our existing customers and expanded the base with each of them,” says Jason. “We are dedicated to being great partners with these companies.”
Q. What are some of your finest accomplishments?
“We are proud of our staff. There has been little turnover. We’ve gone from three employees to almost 100,” Rodney explains.
“We maintain consistency in turbulent times, which has enabled us to grow. Two years ago, we were able to expand the company into Canada,” he continues. “At a time when we felt consumers were going more eco-friendly, we established the Evidence of Evolution line. Now we also have a licensing agreement with Guardin, which offers eco-friendly dye solutions that enable fabrics to be water repellent, fire retardant, stain resistant and anti-microbial.”
Q. What are your future goals?
“Ten years from now we still want to be known as the company to go to for fashion-forward, quality fabrics,” Jason states. “The ultimate reward is seeing customers happy with our products.“I’ve been a competitive tennis player. Rodney has been a marathon runner. As athletes, we are both disciplined in setting and meeting high expectations,” he concludes. “We both love and thrive off what we do.”
• Softline Home Fashions, 800-701-4220, softlineonline.com