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Betsy Burnham debuts, manufactures, distributes new collection
Aug 15, 2016

Launching her first collection of upholstered furniture, Betsy Burnham of Los Angeles-based Burnham Design offers a collection of sofas, lounge chairs and dining chairs. The 11-SKU collection includes three sofas, four lounge chairs, three dining chairs and one ottoman. What’s most surprising about the launch? Burnham is creating, manufacturing and distributing it herself. She sat down to chat with EAL about the ins and outs of her new venture.

Where did you find inspiration for the collection?
I found inspiration in vintage pieces that have passed through my office on their way to clients over the years, and I combined those design details with clean lines and modern proportions. My hope was to create beautifully tailored, comfortable, classic pieces that will both anchor a room and give it high style. For the fabrics, I found inspiration in my own closet. We’re offering the collection in chambray and denim, twill, linen and heather gray wool, all fabrics I love to wear and that look great together.

What are the benefits to manufacturing and distributing the collection on your own?
The short answer is control. It’s a huge responsibility overseeing the manufacturing myself, but at the same time, I can keep my hands and eyes on every part of the process. Since this is my first product line, it made sense to keep it small and keep it close. I can oversee production and either I or someone from my team can personally inspect each piece before it ships.

Do you have any advice to share with designers seeking to create their own collections?
Work with a category you know. In my case, this was upholstery—I’ve been building custom pieces for clients for as long as I’ve been in business, so I had a solid understanding of proportion, comfort level, and of what sells and what doesn’t. From there, make sure you have the groundwork set for production… I used a factory here in Los Angeles that I’ve been working with for years. I know they produce quality merchandise and are reliable and affordable. 

Then go out into the market and see what’s out there, what lines you want to position yourself alongside, and also what price points are like. Do you want to sell at retail, through a showroom or to the trade? Then just hunker down and get creative; put a line of prototypes together and fuss over them, get to work on your branding, and by all means, hire someone to help you with it. The process can be overwhelming!


Betsy Burnham

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