Interview with Trisha Roy, Founder of Barn & Willow: From Product Manager to Entrepreneur
After discovering firsthand how difficult it is to get custom drapery and curtains for her home, Trisha Roy of Barn & Willow decided to do something about it.
Barn & Willow Living Room CREDIT: Courtesy Barn & Willow
Trisha Roy, founder of Barn & Willow, comes from a textiles manufacturing company, but she never thought she'd be in the business herself. Until she began the process of finding custom-made curtains for her new home and she experienced how painful (and expensive!) the process was. It was then she realized there was an opportunity to make a laborious task easy and pain-free.
LM: Let's start by giving me a snapshot of you and the company.
TR: I am from India and my family is into textiles manufacturing. I never thought I would also one day have a textile-specific business. I came to the US for my education, worked as a product manager with eBay and Paypal before launching Barn & Willow. Although I loved every bit of my tenure as a product manager and a techie, I realized product designing is where my true passion lies.
Barn & Willow is changing the way people shop for window draperies and shades. With our tech-driven and middleman-free approach we offer the finest custom-made window coverings at accessible prices, delivered within 10 days. The industry average is 3+ weeks. Our mission is to make home decor shopping more accessible - both from a convenience and a price standpoint.
LM: Why did you start this brand? Where did this all begin for you?
TR: My husband and I had just bought a house and wanted to buy new window shades and curtains for the house - mainly for privacy, light control and to match the decor. Our search began at the local curtain showrooms; salespeople showing clunky, bold fabrics and asking a series of confusing questions about window style and measurements that we literally had no idea about. It was the same story with online stores - overwhelming selection, measurement puzzles and pushy salespeople.
Our budget was a couple thousand, so it came as a bit of sticker shock when, after spending weeks on the process, we started getting quotes of $10,000, $15,000 and so on. All we wanted was simple, high quality curtains and shades without any of the drama. But we couldn't find any.
That's when I realized that there was work to be done and an untapped opportunity. Barn & Willow was born from the simple philosophy that shopping for custom products, especially window coverings, should not be complicated and should not cost a fortune.
LM: What is your favorite part about starting this company?
TR: I started Barn & Willow to solve a problem that I experienced myself and what excites me most is hearing from our customers that they absolutely love the simplicity and elegance of our products and that it was easy to buy from us.
LM: In terms of e-commerce, how is this different than online marketplaces?
TR: We're different because we're a vertically integrated brand and every curtain/shade is custom stitched for the customer and shipped directly to the customer within 10 days. We believe premium quality and custom-made should be more accessible and so we work directly with the best textile mills across the world who give us the best. Starting from textiles sourcing, custom stitching to delivering it to you within 10 days; we manage it entirely. This helps us offer a seamless experience.
LM: Discuss the aesthetic/branding of the company.
TR: Our style is clean and minimalist and that's why we offer a carefully edited palette of solid neutrals. We offer premium quality of certified linens sourced from some of the largest mills in Belgium and we're soon going to be launching an exclusive collection of organic cottons and some cotton-linens. We believe less is more and our online store also presents some of that simplicity - no overloading of features.
LM: What is your take on the future of selling luxury products at an affordable rate?
TR: There are a couple of emerging trends in the affordable luxury space which I think would define the future of this industry. Firstly, a common trend which we see getting more ubiquitous is the direct-to-consumer model. Being able to control the entire supply chain end-to-end continues to be not only beneficial for the companies, but for raising customer experience standards too - I feel it's a win-win situation. Just in the last five years, the number of direct to consumer luxury brands have grown exponentially.
Secondly, technology will continue to be a huge enabler for launching and growing brands. The next wave of online shopping is going to be AR/VR driven, specifically in the home decor space where visualizing the product in context of your home would be a huge enabler for making quick decisions.
I think we'll also start seeing more shifts in the high-end luxury brands space with brands like LVMH (includes wine & spirits, fashion & leather goods, perfumes & cosmetics, watches & fine jewelry brands such as Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Celine, Bvlgari, Guerlain, Givenchy, Makeup Forever, Fenty Beauty, Christion Dior, Fendi, Veuve Clicquot, Chandon, and Dom Perignon) and Prada embracing some of these newer AR/VR technology, and maybe even newer models like subscription-based and rent-based ownership of products.
LM: What other brands are you currently into?
TR: If this is about other brands I love to shop from I would say Warby Parker for sunglasses, Allbirds shoes, Boll & branch sheets.
LM: What's next for the company?
TR: New products, exciting partnerships and maybe a new logo.
I'll be keeping an eye out for the new product launches and partnership announcements!
BY Thomas Koulopoulos