E-retailer Interior Define, looking beyond couches, adds former Crate and Barrel president

March 24, 2015 12:45 PM

Rob Royer, founder of custom furniture e-retailer Interior Define, says he wants the company to “own the living room” by expanding its product line beyond custom couches.

The year-old, youth-oriented retailer took what it thinks is a major step towards doing just that by hiring former Crate and Barrel president Marta Calle as its new executive chairman. Calle was president of Crate and Barrel, No. 77 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, from 2012 to 2014.

Calle was brought on board largely because of her extensive experience managing multiple product lines, Royer says.

“Marta has built an assortment of multiple home goods categories beyond sofas, which is the core of our business,” he says. “We’re now going to add complementary products to that core category and we’ll be releasing those in the next 4-5 months.”

For Calle, joining Interior Define, which has raised $3.2 million in funding to date, represents a return to her roots.

Prior to taking over as president of Crate and Barrel in 2012, Calle spent nine years working on building Crate and Barrel’s youth-oriented home furnishings retailer CB2 from the ground up. After leaving Crate and Barrel in mid-2014, Calle says she was looking for something that allowed her to build a business, not simply maintain something that someone else had built.

“As much as it was a wonderful learning experience for me to be at Crate and Barrel as the president for almost three years, I love being in new businesses, I love surrounding myself with people who teach me as much as I teach them,” she says. “A billion-dollar business is wonderful to participate in but it’s not as agile. I really love things that move quickly.”

Interior Define is a company brimming with potential, Calle says.

The company started as an e-retailer selling sofas online before opening its first showroom in Chicago’s trendy Wicker Park neighborhood. The point of the showroom is to give customers a chance to physically experience the company’s products, not sell them something they can take home that day. All sales are completed online.

Before making the move to Interior Define, Calle did her homework to make sure she was making the right move.

Calle tells Internet Retailer she visited the showroom and checked out the website, wanting to experience the brand as a shopper first to determine how she could use her own experience to help the company grow.

“What I saw in Interior Define was quality,” she says. “Rob has positioned this brand in this timeless modern point of view where you can buy a piece that you will have in your home for 10 years.”

From Calle’s perspective, physical showrooms are important for the e-retailer and key to growth. Right now, Interior Define has one location in Chicago, but the company plans to open more showrooms outside that market, starting in New York, then San Francisco, followed by Los Angeles.




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