In the fast-evolving world of window furnishings, TWO Australia is making waves with the latest addition to its product range – curtains. We had the privilege of sitting down with Ange Melas, who heads the TWO curtain program, to delve into his remarkable journey and explore the captivating world of curtains.
Ange’s journey spans the curtain industry, from commercial and retail to trade and manufacturing. At the helm of TWO’s curtain operations based in Victoria, Ange is thrilled to bring a unique blend of modern technology and traditional craftsmanship, ensuring that each curtain embodies quality while meeting the demands of contemporary living.
Ange, can you share with us your journey in the curtain industry? How did you get started, and what has kept you passionate about curtains over the years?
I am a second-generation curtain manufacturer with 25 years of experience. My journey in the curtain industry has been a fascinating one. I’ve worked across the entire spectrum of the curtain business, from commercial to retail, trade, and manufacturing. But my true passion lies in manufacturing. I love streamlining processes, finding ways to make them more efficient, and keeping costs down for our customers while maintaining a high-quality product.
Since joining TWO, I’m thrilled to be able to focus 100% on operations. My belief in combining modern technology with traditional techniques sets me apart. While the industry often leans toward one or the other, I’ve found that blending the two allows us to achieve a level of capacity and quality that 100% traditional methods can’t handle.
With your vast industry knowledge, what do you envision for the future of window furnishings, especially in the Australian market?
We’ve seen a significant shift back to curtains in the Australian market. Retailers who have never traditionally sold curtains now realise the need to do so. This resurgence isn’t limited to a particular type of curtain; it encompasses a wide variety, including S-Fold linen-look sheers, lined solid fabrics, triple-weave solids, and silk-look textures. I’m genuinely excited about where the market is heading.
Why must a manufacturer like TWO offer a diverse range of window furnishings, including curtains?
Retailers, in general, prefer a one-stop-shop supplier. They want a supplier they can rely on for quality, lead time, and ease of ordering. This way, they can dedicate more time to selling. Our diverse range of window furnishings, including curtains, fulfils this need, ensuring that retailers can meet their customers’ varied preferences and styles.
In your experience, what challenges have you faced in manufacturing curtains, and how have you overcome them?
The impact of COVID-19 hit our workforce and made us reevaluate our operations. We had to find ways to become even more efficient with limited staff, ultimately reducing customer costs. One significant challenge in the industry is the need for more skilled workers and operators. Expertise and knowledge have always differentiated between established suppliers and newcomers attempting to enter the curtain industry. Overcoming these challenges requires having the right skilled people to assist in various areas, from sales to marketing and installation training.
Curtains have an enduring popularity. What do you think contributes to their timeless appeal among consumers?
The timeless appeal of curtains lies in the warmth they bring to a room. Curtains have a unique ability to soften a space and add a touch of drama. I often say that the curtain industry is a part of the fashion industry, as it plays with your emotional chords, making curtains a vital element of interior design.
Could you enlighten our readers on which window treatments complement curtains and how retailers can showcase these combinations effectively?
Curtains can be a great addition to a wide range of window treatments, such as roller blinds or plantation shutters. By adding a sheer or blockout curtain over a roller blind or plantation shutter, you can achieve both functionality and warmth. The possibilities for dressing up these combinations are practically endless, providing retailers with the opportunity to offer customers versatile and stylish solutions.
For flooring store retailers looking to expand into selling curtains, what potential revenue opportunities can they expect?
Curtains are a higher-ticket item, which means there is the potential for higher margins. Homeowners generally understand that curtains are more expensive, setting the expectation for a premium product. This opens up revenue opportunities for retailers looking to diversify their offerings.
As someone deeply involved in the industry, how would you recommend upselling from flooring to curtains for retailers who want to offer a comprehensive home solution?
Selling curtains isn’t just about providing a functional product; it’s about adding value to a property. Curtains aren’t just a necessity; they’re a piece of home decor that can transform a space. It’s essential to emphasise the emotional connection curtains can create with customers. Show them how curtains can add warmth, value, and a dramatic touch to their homes, and then guide them through fabric and colour choices.
And finally, given the dynamic nature of design, what are the current trends in curtains that retailers should be aware of to stay ahead in the market?
S-Fold curtains have been a long-standing trend and will likely remain popular for years. They offer a contemporary and minimalistic look that is easy to manufacture. Poly and poly/linen blends for sheers have also gained popularity for their versatility. Polyester, nowadays, is comparable to natural fibres, offering durability, ease of maintenance, and cost-effectiveness. Plain linen looks and matte natural finishes for sheers and blockouts are also in demand. Staying informed about these trends will help retailers stay ahead in the market.
TWO Australia manufactures their curtains in Victoria and delivers them nationwide through their in-house freight teams. For more information on TWO Australia’s products, visit www.two-australia.com.