Interview with Christabel Biella, Cult Furniture.

Ever wondered what it would be like to be a buyer for a chic online furniture store? We spoke to Christabel Biella, Head of Buying at Cult Furniture – to find out what her job entails and where interiors trends are headed this year.

What is a day in the life of a buyer like?

It is an all encompassing job, we live and breathe products. My buying team are constantly on the lookout for the best on trend products at amazing prices. My job varies from designing and briefing new products, managing suppliers, controlling quality and flow of stock coming in, managing and analysing the existing products to planning future ranges.  A buyer sources the most relevant and desirable products to their target customer for the best possible value, using insights from market trends, product analysis and benchmarking with competitors. They need a good eye for detail, be a good negotiator, have a passion for product, and be relentless in their search for always wanting to find the best products.

Where do you source most store items from?

We source products from suppliers all over the world. We look for good suppliers who have the right work ethic, understand our design and quality standards and are pro-active. We are working with a great set of suppliers, some who have been working with the business since the beginning.

Cult Furniture

What are you looking for?

The product journey starts with the buying team looking for the latest interior and furniture design trends due to come into the market in the next year, as seen at design and trade shows, online, and in magazines. We then plan out the most relevant and important trends and what new products to source that fit in with our own themes. I will plan a seasonal budget for new products and give range direction, whilst also managing out older products no longer selling well. 

What makes Cult Furniture so different?

I believe we have the best choice, value and prices for trend led furniture in the UK, particularly in chairs and stools. We offer a designer look, trendy products for amazingly affordable prices and you’ll always find something a bit more brave and bold at Cult. It won’t be cookie cutter, boring flat pack furniture. We want customers to not be afraid to try new furniture, to update or revamp their space – as it won’t cost a fortune.

What is the story of Cult Furniture, how did it all start?

Our founder Fiaz has a few bars in London. He was looking for some stools for his bar and couldn’t find anything he liked. He bought a shipping container of stock, took some for his bar and sold the rest on eBay which sold out quickly. He knew then he had accidentally started a furniture business without meaning to! The business is 10 years old this year and is going from strength to strength. We have had our furniture featured on tv shows such as the X Factor, Channel 4’s George Clarke’s Old House New Home and on the Great Interior Design Challenge on the BBC.

We are continuing to grow amongst tough retail market conditions, and now everything we do is refining ourselves to enable more growth.

This year we are refining our brand handwriting in our product ranges, designing even closer to trends you see in magazines and widening choice in our main product categories. We are working on stronger product launches, and working with more diverse suppliers. The company started selling mainly chairs and stools but now we are managing more product categories with lots of room for range expansion.

What is currently trending for 2020 – 2021?

We are seeing a lot of curves and sculptural architectural forms in everything, from accent chairs, sofas, lighting, storage and tables. The colour palette is going more muted, earthy and organic. Moss green, midnight blue, burnt orange, ochre, caramel brown and off whites are set to become bigger in the next year. There has been a lot of talk around the colours of the year from Pantone and the paint brands. Classic Blue, sage green and neo mint, which are expressions of nature in various forms, from the sea and sky, plants and botanicals to earthy soil and clay colours. The hottest materials at the moment are anything ribbed or fluted in wood, glass, stone and textiles. Keeping natural palettes with cane /rattan – in lighting, accessories, furniture. We are very excited to be designing some amazing new collections around these. For fabrics, velvets are still going strong, but other soft textural fabrics are now coming in – I am currently obsessed with boucle and faux sheepskin and corduroy is also having a moment.

Where do you find interiors inspo – mags / podcasts / online resources

Most of our inspiration comes from trade shows, magazines and social media. Our customers and social media influencers give us great insight into how our customers live and use our products and what they are getting excited about in the world of interiors. I am obsessed with the Great Interiors podcast hosted by Kate Watson-Smythe and Sophie Robinson, they are amazing women and have created a really fun, informal, relatable show. I follow a ton of amazing interior designers and influencers on Instagram. My all time favourite magazine is Elle Decoration, it’s a treat to read with a good cup of coffee on a weekend morning. Living Etc, Dezeen and various interior design Blogs in the US and Australia are also great. The Australian interiors brands are nailing it with interior trends and are way ahead of us in the UK.

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