Meet Alexis Varbero: The Woman Behind the Schwartz Design Showroom
The Schwartz family has been renowned in the industry for the past 77 years, first as a high-end furniture/retail store to the Schwartz DesignShowroom, the trade-only output that they are known for today. Family-run and operated, the Schwartz Design Showroom is renowned for working with high-quality vendors (currently 85!), their dedication to customer service, and their commitment to the designers and their clients.
For the past 15 years, the brand has been led by its passionate president, Alexis Varbero, who is known for creating a positive environment, supporting her employees in every position, and leading them with respect and gratitude. She also has the foresight to see even bigger opportunities for the Schwartz Design Showroom, including their recent partnership with Verellen as well as plans to further expand next year within the lighting category. Read to learn more about this iconic brand and the woman behind it.
How did the company start?
We started as Schwartz Furniture Co and Appliances, but quickly became a high-end furniture and retail store in New Jersey for 55 years. We transitioned the business from retail to trade about 19 years ago by my mother. I’ve been involved for 15 years after I left my career in global marketing and cosmetics where I started learning the business from the ground up from my mother.
What made the Schwartz Design Showroom want to come to Stamford?
Honestly, we responded when designers started driving to New Jersey. They found us online and through our vendor reps and came from Westchester, Westport, and all over Connecticut! We keep hearing that we needed to open in Stamford, and basically responded to that. Designers really needed more options for their vendors and clients, and most importantly, they wanted the level of customer service we were known for in New Jersey.
Do you work with different vendors at both showrooms?
Generally, no. I’ve developed some wonderful relationships with vendors that represent our business in both locations. When I first came to Stamford, I didn’t want to do what everyone was doing and realized very quickly that our designers wanted a more contemporary modern approach to design.
How do you decide on which vendors you will work with?
We find vendors on social, in obscure places, or from the furniture markets (which can be crazy). Mostly, though, we listen to our clients. Most of our newer relationships have come from recommendations from the designer. I love that the designers trust us with these relationships.
Tell us more about your new partnership with Verellen.
Verellen has been around for 23 years and they really weren’t on my radar until we came to Stamford. During one of our trips to Highpoint, we were able to learn more about them and how they’re a lifestyle brand that features a modern Danish cool look. It really fit a need in our vendor profile. We had an initial meeting at market and we really hit off. I think their ethos and how they run their company is very similar to how I run mine in terms of the level of customer service, level of detail, and making sure we provide all options for the client, which they can do as well. It is also about the quality of their fabrics. It is sort of the anti ‘I want my furniture in 2-4 weeks.’ They are not that line. Their furniture is handcrafted and made in North Carolina. I can attest to it by seeing our floor items – their pieces are stunning. They are for a specific client who can appreciate the fabrics, quality of the design, and the craftsmanship.
How do you decide on what lighting vendors to work with?
I look for people who have the ability to customize. I want to make sure that I’m giving them options since designers always ask if we can alter pieces. I also look at the their customer service policies as well as those who are manufactured in the U.S. I also need vendors that I can easily call and support any customer service need we may have.
What are some of your goals next year?
Next year, we are going to have a greater focus on the lighting market. There is a huge need for trade-only resources; specifically so designers can bring in their clients to show them all of the options, especially with the recent closing of Klaff’s. The designers are talking about it in every space. It is their number one need and I’m listening to them. I want to make a greater investment in giving that to them.
Check out the video below featuring Carson Kressley and Thom Filicia at the Schwartz Design Showroom.
Learn even more about Schwartz Design Showroom.