Emily Morrow Finkell is providing her customers with American-made hardwood flooring with a very personal touch. With the launch of Emily Morrow Home, she has infused her life-long love of interior design into a series of made-to-order flooring collections that both tell stories and bring her unique life experiences into customers’ homes.
This life experience includes more than three decades as an interior designer and flooring expert, including serving as Shaw Industries’ Director of Color, Style, and Design.
“I’ve worked with a lot of wonderful people who taught me a lot. I’ve learned so much about curating products into a collection and launching a brand. I’ve learned the importance of knowing how to tell a story and how to make it easy to understand,” explains Morrow.
Morrow’s first step to build her story outline was in-depth research. To do this, Morrow traveled the country, visiting with friends and flooring experts to seek out their input on what they wanted to see. She came away from those conversations knowing that they wanted something unique…something that could not be found at big box locations.
“Those I reached out to wanted a brand that spoke to quality. However, they also wanted something they did not have to inventory, but rather work with sources that know the art of working with the design trade,” says Morrow.
In addition to a brand that met these criteria, Morrow says she knew she wanted to speak to the idea of social responsibility and giving back. It’s a story that she has been able to tell through Emily Morrow Home’s manufacturer, American OEM’s unique set up, where the hardwood flooring is made-to-order in a plant located inside of a medium-security prison in Tennessee.
“Working with American OEM not only helps these men become reformed citizens, but they also become trained skilled craftsmen,” says Morrow. “By the time they are released, not only have they been paid, but they are frequently able to get jobs with us after they are released. It’s a program my husband, Don Finkell, developed in eight plants during his career in manufacturing hardwood flooring.”
From a practical perspective, Morrow also believes this unique manufacturing process leads to stunning visuals.
“It gives us so much design flexibility, and when so many dedicated hands can come together on a product, it allows us to do amazing things with wood. For example, some of our designs feature heavy scrapes, with black rubbed into the scrape. That said, for customers who have refined tastes, we also provide more traditional looks,” says Morrow.
The unique manufacturing approach provides her collection to designers in a somewhat non-traditional way.
“Rather than having to inventory all of this in their warehouses, because the team can turn orders quickly, buyers don’t have to commit a lot of capital for truckloads or freighters,” explains Morrow.
As another way to make her brand unique and stand apart from others on the market, Morrow says it was vital that she told personal stories with color, style, and design.
“It’s important that every style has a personal story behind it,” says Morrow.
As one example, she was even able to gain color inspiration from her family trip to Kenya.
“I was enjoying being unplugged, in the middle of the Serengeti plain, and was filled with inspiration by the great migration of wildebeests. From the two weeks on safari came our color of the year for 2019, Tusker Taupe, as well as our other newest colors, Great Migration, Moon River, and Serengeti Spirit.”
SPREADING THE WORD
For Morrow, the final piece of her brand’s puzzle would be how she communicates her brand’s story to the world. In addition to creativity and finding inspiration from life experiences, Emily Morrow stresses the importance of digital marketing as a way to share her brand’s unique story.
“Social media is essential, and everyone should be engaging with consumers through it. My advice with digital marketing is that we should make it personal if at all possible,” explains Morrow. “Today, there are so many ways to reach out to not just retailers and designers, but end-users to create demand and brand recognition. Ultimately, everyone has to do it their way and do what makes the most sense for their customer base, but everyone should try to find a way to tell their brand’s own unique story in as personal a way as possible.”
Bollinger and Finkell. The next generation of industry legends.