Lori Sumner created her business, SL Grange, in a way that’s relatable to us at Chairish—by turning a personal passion into a full-time career (and yes, we started the same way). Lori transformed her passion for collecting from a side hobby to her main business just two years ago, and she hasn’t looked back since. With a wide array of eye-catching small items ready to ship, she carries a selection of pieces that are incredibly on trend right now, including majolica, blue-and-white ceramics, and colorful glassware.
We spoke with Lori about the evolution of her business as well as the products that are flying off the shelves these days. Read on to learn more about her, and be sure to shop SL Grange’s full offering on Chairish.
You started SL Grange as a side business, but made it your full-time work in 2020. Tell us about that process — how did you make it happen?
It was a gradual shift, but a complete about-face in terms of direction. I’d spent 20 years in IT consulting, rode all the waves, and needed something new! I’d been dabbling on Chairish very early and recognized that was where my passion was, where the fun was for me. There came that point where it was both feet in and I had to sink or swim. It is so much fun and some hard work as well, but every day I wake up so excited about what I’m doing!
Most of your pieces are smaller items that are easy to ship. How did you decide on that focus?
Starting off with smaller pieces made it possible for me to ramp up faster in the beginning. Investing in vintage decor pieces was less risky and an easier “on ramp” for me. I love both the hunt and the feedback from buyers who enjoy finding a sustainable decor piece that will become an heirloom.
How was sourcing affected by the pandemic, and how did it affect SL Grange overall? Did you pivot the way you work as a result of changes in the industry over the last two years?
I benefited from having worked in a dynamic industry where pivoting was expected and anticipated. With the pandemic, we’ve all experienced delays and had to adjust our expectations about how business is done. Thankfully, I find the world has become more patient and more empathetic to others and their unique situations. It’s fun seeing the older generations learn to shop online and join in. It’s just expanded our market and added so much.
Do you get most of your customers through digital methods like Chairish? Do you see that having an effect on how designers shop for vintage, in particular?
Yes, most of my customers are through Chairish or digital methods. Frankly, the idea of brick-and-mortar didn’t feel relevant with the pandemic, but I can see value in having some physical presence. On the other hand, I think with the online vintage market explosion, it’s opened up endless possibilities for designers and likely changed how they approach their creative process. I love working with the trade designers, knowing they have hand selected pieces to fit into a highly choreographed space.
What types of pieces do you see moving these days? What are the patterns in terms of what’s selling right now?
The nostalgic florals are selling well and I adore vintage chintz and chinoiserie patterns. Majolica continues to grow in popularity, and understandably, because the color palettes are so delicious! I love stocking smaller sets of tableware that help you layer and vary your look. Colored and etched glassware really make your table pop and are selling well. Beautiful repurposed pieces that originally fit a formal table—and discovering new functionality in our casual lifestyle—is big right now too. I also love animals, and placing them in an unexpected spot like a centerpiece or bar is so fun.
Do you see any upcoming trends in terms of what’s next for the design world? What types of pieces do you hope to stock next?
What is great about today is there’s such freedom to really mix styles and blend to create and capture your individualism… and with that, I think I’m a “more is more” gal! I love the bold bright florals, faux finishes, and natural curiosities. Beautiful vintage rattans and split bamboo are still really strong and in as many fun and rare shapes as possible! I’m currently adding in a lot of vintage lighting paired with metal tole shades, and love to find one-of-a-kind vintage and see it updated.
Are there any styles or trends you’d like to see disappear in the design world right now?
Although I grew up in the ‘80s, and I love the art, I’m not the biggest fan of the Memphis Design style. I love a little, but not a lot. Although a-ha’s “Take On Me” video still remains my favorite and I want to see the Fiorucci angels come back!
Who are some of your favorite makers or designers, in terms of your own inspirations?
What’s a dream piece you’d love to have for yourself?
All photos by Fred Keinz