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Up Close & Personal With The Owner of Isabelina

Over the past year, companies have continued to ‘pivot’ and change with the times to meet the needs of an ever-evolving global community. At Isabelina, these changes have brought about opportunities to stay ahead of the curve and provide custom solutions within the local design industry. We recently caught up with the co-founder, Judith Matthews, about the latest trends and evolution of the brand in South Africa.

Judith Matthews

Isabelina has grown from a wholesaler of décor and furniture, to a retailer and now moving into the online retail space. As the founder, can you tell us how you have managed to evolve the business? 

Changing with the times has been essential. I would say we have evolved the business model whenever it has reached the organic growth limits of our market and stretched when necessary.

We’ve spent a lot of time monitoring opportunities in the industry and pursued a vision that brings with it great success at times but also great failures at others. It’s important to us that we stay true to our original vision and maintain a high-quality product and interior design service without compromise.

As the founder with experience in the clothing industry and a clothing design consultancy background, the décor industry was a natural progression – I love and believe in the products and interior design services we offer and we are constantly focusing on design and innovation.

As we tackle pandemic restrictions, emerging trends and competitor innovations, our alliances and relationships have grown to include excellent local manufacturers and exclusive suppliers where possible, an in-house Interior Design Division handling anything from single room makeovers to full turnkey projects, and most recently to offer online shopping of a small range – which will also grow as our capability to supply does.

Quality over Quantity?

I can see that you believe in quality over quantity and luxury without skipping out on any of the comforts. Tell us more about this?

Well, the question comes to mind: “How many decor accessories or furniture items do you need?” The answer is probably less than you have at present – and if you buy less overall, you can concentrate on high-quality products – which with proper care and maintenance can last a lifetime. While discount décor is available, cheap textiles are rarely so well made that they last longer than a few years. So the idea of ​​saving money by buying cheaper items doesn’t work; you are more likely to pay more because the new item needs replacement sooner.

Those who buy high-quality décor and furniture and care for them properly actually save a lot of money in the long run. Not to mention environmental problems and pollution caused by the production of cheap textiles. Those who buy our products also support companies that respect fair pay and environmental standards that have a significant and active influence on the industry. Quality rather than quantity helps against exploitation and pollution. We work with local manufacturers, where the owner is still personally in the workshop and can answer all our questions about the product. In addition, it supports small and medium-sized companies, which are the lifeblood of the SA economy. Quality instead of quantity is an integral part of the Isabelina lifestyle.

What makes the range of products at Isabelina unique and distinguishes you from the competition?

Our showroom offers a visual experience, every product is designed or curated to posit luxury – people are always commenting on how they love visiting Isabelina as each item is meticulously placed – to create décor stories that enthral and inspire, and people can say “wow! I need this in my life!” We have also identified talent in our employees, investing in them to ensure excellence in client relations and design alike. Furthermore, we have migrated all our furniture and mirror production to South African manufacturers, lending itself to customization and bespoke finishes to offer clients exactly what they desire.

Do you have any new exciting pieces that you have recently launched or anything in the pipeline?

We certainly do! We will be releasing a brand new collection by the 9th of July – people may visit the website to sign up for our newsletter – all our new releases are showcased there, as well as on our social media accounts.

New trends?

People are working and spending more time at home since lockdown.  Any interior trends that you’ve noticed?

Definitely, the home office comes to mind as people have needed a dedicated work space, and the challenge has often been to repurpose existing rooms to accommodate this function. Particularly wallpapers in bold colours and designs have overtaken the neutral walls of old, as the use of colour to create visual interest and inspiration in these personal workspaces has been important.

Bringing the outdoors in, with vertical gardens, hanging gardens and high-quality silk flower arrangements have become a design feature. We have noted the inclination to adorn the home with wood, rattan, raw textiles, leathers and feathers, as well as the desire for window dressings that are sheer or sometimes non-existent.

There has been a prominent design choice shift to give a space the feeling of being outdoors, and have a great library of options in our arsenal to execute them. As we know, international travel has still been very restricted and therefore our Interior Design Division has been busier than usual with renovations and turnkey projects that include entertainment centres and home bars as their main features.

Shop the latest curated decor pieces online at Isabelina. Here you can also find out about their Interior Concepts Division and bring a designer look to your favourite spaces.


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