David Ebbetts and Palmer Smith are just set to start a new high-end home brand. They are neither trying to disturb anything, nor there any middleman to cut out. It’s a straightforward plan with a straightforward name: South + English (Smith is from Georgia and Ebbetts was born in London). Both of them are industry veterans who helped grow Julian Chichester and Mr. Brown, are now tapping into deep experience and a playful spirit.
In a statement, Ebbetts said, “I’ve emerged in the ‘buttoned-up Brit’ role, and Palmer is the rather wide-open opposite. I am very process-oriented—I am thinking about ‘how’—vendors, resources, materials to bring the idea to life. Palmer has an uncanny eye for what’s next. … So on matters of gut instinct, Palmer tips the scales a bit—but don’t tell him I said so.”
The debut collection that has case goods, mirrors, upholstery, objects d’art, and fine art reproductions, will allegedly debut at High Point next month with 50 pieces. With a name that has a mix of classic English proportions with a touch of liveliness from the modern South. Most of the pieces are American-made, with a high degree of customization. Also, the pair is funding the venture themselves, targeting designers and high-end boutique retail however.
Ebbetts further added, “[It’s] a really challenging market, and there’s an awful lot of competition. But I wanted to start in an area that I know. And there’s room for a new American brand with a lot of customization, interesting finishes, very designer-focused.”
Ebbetts co-launched Mr. Brown with Chichester in 2010, is now relishing the chance to step out from behind the scenes and put his name on the front door: “The timing was right; I’m at the point now in my career where I wanted to follow my own vision—though of course it’s Palmer’s vision too.”
“You’ve got to be prepared to accept you don’t know all the answers and adapt all the time … and you’ve got to physically try—you can’t just ask people,” he says. “Be prepared to change your opinion. You’ve got to be changing all the time. … It’s an ongoing process. If you don’t have that mentality, then don’t do it, because you’ll waste a lot of money.”
Ebbetts further said, “We believe our designs will resonate with discerning consumers, so web-based DTC is also a consideration. But not imminent. South + English is a clean slate. We don’t stand on precedent. This means the business plan is flexible and fluid. Sometimes that means my answer to a question may be, ‘I don’t know.’ That intrigues me. It’s a process of finding the answers.”
South + English will launch at High Point with 50 pieces!!