Backyard Bliss – Helping Customers Turn Outdoor Areas into Beautiful Spaces

Sunset West was featured in the Patio & Hearth Products Report in the November / December 2018 issue.

by Cherise Forno, Patio & Hearth

Sunset West has developed a broad line of patio furniture that appeals to a diverse consumer base looking to elevate their outdoor spaces with high-quality, fashion-forward pieces.

“Each collection that we bring out appeals to a different customer,” says Wes Stewart, co-founder. “We do a lot of things well in a manner to allow people to get a custom solution. People are really starting to see us for this ability.”

Founded in 2004 as a distribution company reselling patio furniture under a different name, Sunset West has grown into a well-respected industry leader. After a few years, Sunset West began importing its own products and designs, and has continued to expand and fine tune the company during the last decade. “What started as a two-man operation has grown to 30 employees on-site,” Stewart says.

Sunset West has also taken ownership of various aspects of its furniture, including the formation of a sewing operation, and expanding its experienced dealer network throughout the United States. “We’ve been very successful this year in adding dealers in the Midwest and East Coast,” Stewart says. “We’ve done about 98 per-cent of the sewing in-house this year.”

Sunset West has also focused on steady growth, allowing the company to maintain a high level of quality craftsmanship and customer service. “We try to bring in two collections a year,” Stewart says.

“We don’t want to grow too big, too fast.”

In an effort to stay a step ahead of ever-changing design trends, Sunset West released the Milano collection this year, which features an acrylic rope material for a finished look that is eye-catching and sophisticated. Pieces such as a club chair, ottoman, and cushionless chaise are crafted with comfort and performance in mind. Stewart says the look, feel, and utility of this premium all-weather material has been very popular. “People have thought these are really interesting and exciting,” he says. “It’s really starting to catch on this year.”

Other flagship collections include the Coronado, which captures a casual yet upscale aesthetic with its driftwood resin wicker. The pieces in this collection showcase the company’s commitment to comfort, quality, and timeless style. “Our Coronado, Laguna, and Provence are all doing well,” he says. “I think the style is there, the comfort is there, and the value is there.”

Another recent collection that pairs exquisite design with unparalleled value is the Laguna which features sleek lines and a driftwood finish. This pairing of aluminum and driftwood make these pieces ideal for any location, from modern homes to backyard decks. A luxurious design is achieved with Sunset West’s Provence collection, which evokes the elegance of Rome coupled with the comfort of high-end furniture featuring sleek, clean lines in its dining and seating products.

Stewart emphasizes that Sunset West is committed to offering products that deliver true value with the highest level of quality. The company has exclusively used Sunbrella’s performance fabric since its inception, but Sunset West also allows customers to supply their own fabric to create a truly customized piece of furniture. The furniture’s frames are made in Asia, and cushions are produced domestically, which Stewart notes is a large advantage. “Because we make them domestically, we can get custom cushions to customers in 4-6 weeks,” he says.

Collections from Sunset West stand apart from other outdoor furniture sets because they were designed to complement each other, all while offering distinct styles for different customers and locations. Stewart explains that they are craft-ed so that customers can take several pieces from one collection such as the Laguna and add a piece from another collection, such as a Majorca club chair, which is woven in a textured resin wicker, to create a one-of-a-kind furniture design.

“One of the things I really think has been catching on is mixing and matching items together,” Stewart says. “Different textures and pat-terns can go together for a complete, finished look.” While purchasing an entire set still dominates the market, this ability to pair pieces from different collections provides dealers and customers limitless options to take their patio furniture collection and outdoor areas to the next level. “To differentiate ourselves, we have different collections that work together to create a lot more visual interest for a more custom solution for customers,” Stewart says. “We also have a very keen, clean scale, and the designs are on point for each look we are trying to achieve. Dealers have opportunities to offer curated packages to make a backyard have a better, higher-end look.”

This innovative mindset extends to selecting color schemes, patterns, and materials that are trending or will be popular in the near future. Stewart notes that Sunset West strives to stay ahead of industry trends. He says driftwood (included in the Coronado and Laguna collections) has been very popular for the last few years. For the future, he notices the colors in high demand shifting to classic white and gray tones. “I see us stepping into gray/slate gray color trends in the next year or two,” Stewart says. “I think white is going to be a very important color in the next two to three years.”

The inventive, thriving company wants to continue to look ahead and be on the forefront of innovation. Stewart explains that Sunset West wants to avoid being behind any style, fabric, and color trends. “If you are on-trend or slightly ahead of trends, you can create more interesting showrooms,” he says. “I think we’re going to get sharper at staying a step ahead.”

To download the full article, click here.

Seeing opportunity through change in the outdoor industry

Wes Stewart, Managing Director and Founding Partner of Sunset West, wrote and editorial for Casual Living Magazine which was featured on December 12, 2018.

New channels of distribution and new competitors force existing business models to change. Why else would someone choose to disrupt a perfectly good and profitable model?

Change is a frightening word for most of us, myself included. Changing routines, changing jobs or changing business practices can all induce anxiety. It disrupts the comfort of our daily routines and forces us to reconsider what we do on a regular basis; however, with change comes opportunity.

Increasingly, traditional furniture manufacturers, online stores and catalog companies are all showing interest in casual furniture. Why does there seem to be more competition? The simple answer is because there is a tremendous amount of business to be had for both retailers and manufacturers.

OUTDOOR IN DEMAND

Today, the architecture of new homes almost always includes an outdoor living area, whether that’s a covered back patio, a front porch or a beautifully integrated indoor/ outdoor entertaining space with disappearing doors. Sometimes, homes have all three spaces, and as research points out, home buyers and those remodeling existing homes are demanding these outdoor spaces.

The best news about these relatively new entertaining hot spots is that they happen to be focal points of the home. And homeowners tend to spend more money while furnishing these focal points.

Now that we’ve established there is opportunity to furnish these new spaces, how do we continue our dominance in the channel?

As a manufacturer, we continue to look for ways to differentiate ourselves from the masses and overly available product, not just in comfort, quality, design and value, but also in how we present and support our offerings— hence our Color Stories at Sunset West were born.

SOMETHING SPECIAL

This is not just a collection, but a compilation of several collections in different materials and textures that all work together to form different color palettes. I believe the color-palette approach allows our retail partners to offer something special and different vs. the standard matched set that is available through too many other channels.

No longer will our partners ask: “What material are you looking for? Aluminum, resin wicker, wrought iron, wood, poly-wood?” The idea of color stories allows the questions to evolve into: “What is the style of your house? What style do you prefer?” The customer may not be able to answer the first question, but they will certainly be able to answer the second one.

The color-palette approach can challenge the norm in the retail store, but when executed correctly, the ticket averages increase, and the customer is more satisfied with a “stylized” solution for their home. Our retail partners can offer something that big box stores and the Internet cannot—a bespoke service/solution for the discerning client.

Through spending time on the road, talking with customers at trade shows and sharing ideas at industry-sponsored roundtables, I have had the opportunity to meet creative thinkers who continue to modify their traditional retail model to succeed in ways that big box stores and the Internet simply cannot.

IDEAS FOR SUCCESS

  • Store gatherings centered on education or televised sporting events, not just discounted sales.
  • Constant contact with customers via email to share new installations, local news or even holiday recipes.
  • Offering in-home consultations with a lead designer/salesperson.
  • Providing furniture on loan so the customer can have something for their party, but still order exactly what they really want.
  • Barbecuing lunch for shoppers at weekend events.
  • Sending “thank you” cards after a purchase, sometimes with a gift card to come back to the store.
  • Donating a product or a gift card to a local school auction (ask us; we’ll participate).
  • Any activity or contact that can create a personal connection between the community and the company.

NO ONE IS IMMUNE

By listing suggestions on how to successfully retail outdoor furniture, I know I just opened myself up to a list of suggestions about what I can do as a manufacturer to succeed in the industry, as well. I welcome those emails and look forward to the conversations.

The casual industry is not insulated from the requirement to change. Industries all around us are being forced to change. Grocery stores have enticed customers with Starbucks coffee shops. Now many are adding bars that serve wine and craft beers. Best Buy just announced in-home consultations.

Challenges and competitive forces require us to change, but there also exists fantastic opportunities with change when it is embraced and then executed.

Thank you all for a fantastic 2018, and as we all prepare for the changes ahead of us in 2019, I wish you a happy and a very prosperous New Year.

 

To view the full original article, click here.

Wes Stewart Interview with Casual Living: A chat about design with Sunset West

From Casual Living: “What are today’s consumers searching for when it comes to outdoor design? What constitutes casual elegance? Sunset West USA Managing Partner Wes Stewart talks with Casual Living Editor Waynette Goodson about how his company is responding to the trend of people demanding much more than just a standard outdoor set.” Learn more here.

Wes Stewart Chats with Casual Living’s Waynette Goodson

At Las Vegas Market Casual Living Editor Waynette Goodson chats with Wes Stewart about the company’s growth in 2017, new collections in 2018, and industry trends.

Las Vegas Winter Market Wrap-up

The Las Vegas Winter Market 2018 was an incredible success! We were able to introduce new designs, second generation pieces, and so much more. If you weren’t able to attend market, we’ve got some new and exciting collections that you’ll love. The showstopper was our new collection, “The Milano.” This collection features acrylic rope deep seating and dining pieces that make the outdoors flow seamlessly with the beauty and class of interior design.

We went into market having a substantial 29 percent growth for 2017! And we have high expectations for what 2018 will bring with pieces and collections that allow homeowners to transition the indoor and outdoor entertaining space. From outdoor kitchens to indoor breezeways, creating cohesion between your indoor and outdoor living space is seamless. The style of these collections features beautiful neutrals that allow for curation of mixed finishes, media, and silhouettes throughout the entire line—wicker with metal and teak with wicker.

At the show, Sunset West introduced new designs for the casual market for Spring 2018. From multi-finish teak to seamless bench cushions for sofas in deep-seating collections, metal stone mix occasional tables to second generation fire tables as well as a new take on the traditional resin wicker flat weave in a textured tone that complements any color palette, each of these new designed received glowing reviews for innovation and design by designers and retailers alike.

Customers at the show were impressed with the large, comfortable, spacious seating you typically find in indoor design. Our mission is to create pieces with an indoor look, but the stamina necessary to thrive outdoors. Our furniture is never without the highest quality standards, our entire line—wicker, metal, teak, and fire tables—are built to last and age gracefully.

Whether you love our new product offering or our current designs, Sunset West looks to be your resource for great looks, design, comfort and value.

Below are some photos from our showroom at Las Vegas Winter Market 2018!

The Majorca Collection
The Majorca Collection
The Redondo Collection
The Redondo Collection
Provence Club Sofa and Club and Coffee Table
Provence Club Sofa and Club and Coffee Table
Milano Sofa + Milano Bazaar Club Chair
Milano Sofa + Milano Bazaar Club Chair
Coronado Dining Chair and Bench + Driftwood Teak Dining Table
Coronado Dining Chair and Bench + Driftwood Teak Dining Table
Havana Sofa and Club Chair + Driftwood Teak Coffee Table
Havana Sofa and Club Chair + Driftwood Teak Coffee Table
Laguna + Driftwood Teak Large Console + Rectangle Fire Table
Laguna + Driftwood Teak Large Console + Rectangle Fire Table
Laguna + Driftwood Teak Large Console + Rectangle Fire Table
Laguna + Driftwood Teak Large Console + Rectangle Fire Table
Manahattan Dining Chair + Teak Dining Table + Driftwood Teak Rack
Manahattan Dining Chair + Teak Dining Table + Driftwood Teak Rack
Rustic Natural Teak - Small Console and Rack
Rustic Natural Teak – Small Console and Rack

Curated Collections at Sunset West

Casual Living Editor Waynette Goodson chats with Wes Stewart, managing partner, Sunset West, about the company and its penchant for blending West Coast style with a designerly aesthetic. For more Casual Living videos click here!