Interior designer Emily Morrow Finkell, CEO of Emily Morrow Home, hosted her company’s first Designer Summit in April, bringing together leading designers from Tennessee for a hands-on primer on the engineered hardwood flooring that Morrow Finkell markets and her husband Don Finkell manufactures.
“Our two-day event probed the best creative minds of the state regarding their flooring needs,” says the designer, “and also deepened their knowledge of the made-in-America solutions of Emily Morrow Home’s engineered hardwood. Our goal for the summit was an honest and insightful exchange of information.”
The event kicked off with cocktails at Nashville’s Hotel Indigo followed by dinner at Puckett’s. The next morning’s collaborative sessions had the designers sharing the challenges and opportunities they encounter as they work with their clients. Morrow Finkell sought insight on trend and sample boards for her next wave of introductions. But attendees concur that the summit’s highlight was the visit to the Turney Correctional Facility’s prison mill where the Finkells’ flooring is made – a visit that distinguished this gathering of creatives from more typical conferences and trade shows.
“Seeing the inmates at work is something these designers will forever carry with them,” says Morrow Finkell. Unlike a more conventional Q & A approach to product, the prison visit was literally hands-on. “Our guests all remarked on the special feeling they got when allowed to hand scrape the boards with the men, inmates who were incredibly respectful to them and knowledgeable about what they were doing,” she explains.
American OEM’s hardwood mill at the medium-security prison outside Nashville, employs 200 inmates and has a long waiting list. Don Finkell launched American OEM four years ago with the prison labor force as the win-win basis of his business model. Emily Morrow Home finished wood flooring is made at the American OEM prison mill. Prisoners who meet the strict guidelines for employment are paid for their work and consider it a great privilege for work for American OEM.
“When prisoners are released, they are highly employable thanks to the work experience and skills learned while working for OEM. Don’s socially responsible business model uses a voluntary Prison Industry Enterprise (PIE) program to employ incarcerated individuals to help manufacture flooring products,” explains Morrow Finkell.
Her business dovetails with American OEM. She recently launched Emily Morrow Home, which offers a curated home products line including flooring, lighting and upholstery. Interior designers appreciate Emily Morrow Home’s easily installed 8-ft-long engineered hardwood planks, which are tongue-and groove constructed and 7″ wide. Made entirely in the USA in Tennessee of American hardwood, the flooring is sold to designers and the trade only. Her 2019 line is in development and will include some of the new looks previewed and discussed during the Summit.
“After the success of this first Designer Summit, we’re looking forward to the next event,” says Morrow Finkell.