Introducing To The Trade, a brand-new blog series that takes you behind the scenes with the suppliers I love to work with (and why). An all around business, attitude and style inspiration– today I have the answers to 5 questions with Allison Andrew-Harris, Director of Designer & Trade and Managing Partner at CF Interiors .
Originally founded in 1979 by Allison’s father, John Andrew, CF Interiors is a Canadian retailer specializing in home furnishings, lighting and accessories, servicing interior design professionals and decor enthusiasts across the country. Today, the company is operated by Allison and her two brothers, Brock and Mike. They have a passion for well-designed, stylish furniture that lasts, and exceptional customer service for interior designers. Exactly why CF Interiors is an important part of our extended team.
Allison is calm, cool, and creating a legacy of positivity for the family business. Read on to find out why she feels interior design is the key to happiness in the home
Question | Tell us about yourself. Who are you when you’re not at work?
As someone who’s worked in the furniture business since I was in my twenties, my love for my job is a big part of who I am, and I absolutely love coming to work. I feel so passionate about what I do, and I love my incredible team. Positivity is very important to me, so I always arrive to work with a smile and a positive attitude, and try to cultivate all the exceptional qualities in my staff with positive leadership. I am a very hard worker, so I expect that kind of work ethnic from my team. One of my favourite things to do is to celebrate life: I love to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and everyone’s life events – so we make sure everyone is seen, heard, and celebrated at work. My team is my family, and I feel very grateful for this passionate career that makes me happy to walk into the office each day. At the end of the day, it’s hard to keep me away!
Question | When did you get started on your design journey, and how did you get where you are today?
I started managing my father’s North Vancouver store in my twenties, which led me to becoming Head Buyer, while attending BCIT for my Interior Design degree. I soon realized that I did not want to work with clients, but loved assisting designers with their projects. By working so closely with designers, I realized that CF was in need of a dedicated person to start to build the Designer + Trade program. I officially stepped out of purchasing and working at a store level at the end of 2019. I now exclusively oversee the Designer + Trade Program and D+T Sales team.
Question | What can our clients expect from CF?
Honesty is one of the traits we’re most proud of at CF. There is a huge difference between a low end piece of furniture that will last ~3 years, and a high end piece of furniture that will last 20+, so it’s important our designers and clients know the difference. We do not hide anything: there is only so much someone can spend on something – but often, it takes education and trust to know that spending the right amount of investment in the right piece of furniture pays for itself.
For longevity and for the life of furniture, I always say, “We are all too poor to buy cheap furniture.” Consumers now understand that, after making too many buying mistakes online, or without a designer assisting in curating a beautiful home and making the right purchase.
Service is extremely important to us and our sales team. Our goal is to give our designers the gift of time, allowing them to have more time for projects, while we help them behind the scenes with everything else. We are a one-stop-shop for designers, assisting with order tracking, ETA updates, receiving, inspecting, consolidating, warehousing and installing furniture in their client homes. Clients have the most wonderful experience with the life of their furniture, lighting and home decor orders. We aim to take away all the headaches that incur when ordering from multiple places, with one order, and one installation.
Happiness. I feel that clients are much happier when they have hired an expert to help them take their home to the finish line with an Interior Designer. Furniture purchasing has been proven to be one of the hardest consumer decisions you will ever make in your life. But, often clients think they can do the furniture and home decor purchasing themselves. If I get the opportunity to convince them differently – they are always so grateful for the push to keep their designer in their life for all the finishing touches. I often say, “Investing in a designer pays for itself; their discounts pay for their fees, your home does not look like a DIY job – it’s curated correctly and beautifully, and they save marriages. Hire a designer. Hire a professional. Hire Megan Baker and her team.”
Question | Share your top three favourite pieces from CF. Why do you love each of them?
The Oakley Chair – I love the lines of this chair. It is such an iconic feature piece floating in a room, and adds movement with its structured bones. It is a timeless, design classic, and a piece you will definitely pass on through the family.
Tolle Cabinet – This beautifully shaped cabinet adds a touch of sophistication and tradition to a space. A gorgeous way to display your most favourite treasures. Love the mix of black, oak and brass.
The Tub Sofa – One of my favorite sofas of all time: The Tub by Eilersen. This is a classic, modern style with a softness showcasing the side pillows for comfort and napping, yet a sleek design on all four sides. It reminds me of a large mug of a hot drink – it just wraps around you when you sit. It looks so good as a large sectional or sofa on its own!
Question | What’s next for CF?
Our direction is definitely growing in the Designer + Trade division. We hope to open more locations across Canada, leveraging our buying power and our volume to expand our logistics and infrastructure to continue assisting Interior Designers with their furniture, lighting and home decor procurement through CF. We also have an extensive Commercial Division, and have now become a procurement agency for large projects. Developers are loving our one-stop-shop and we aim to alleviate all the headaches that typically come from the FF&E portion of large projects.
Bonus Question | What is the best design advice you’ve ever given or received?
Hire a designer. You would never try to do your own plumbing or electrical work, or your own will, yourself; you’d hire an expert to make sure it’s done by a professional! The same goes for design. Hiring a designer is the best advice I can give, and it always results in the happiest clients, who love their homes that much more. Mostly, they are so happy that their home is taken to the finish line; the artwork is hung, the bookcases are curated with accessories and decor. Homes and surroundings are so important for your overall mood, and I’ve found that clients are so incredibly calm, happy and content when a designer has been involved in the process. As we like to say, #ItAllStartsWithHome.