Malene B: The Business Of Artistry
By Wanda Jankowski
After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Brooklyn, NY-based Malene Barnett began her craeer as a fabric designer, later became Nourison’s first in-house designer and in 2005 launched the Malene B brand (203-247-6337, maleneb.com). Her design studio specializes in globally inspired creations that invite one to “Be Worldly. Live Boldly.” (Below right: Malene B. Photo by David A. Land. Below left: A rug by Malene B. Photo by Rayon Richards.)
What product categories does your brand include?
“Our current assortment consists of custom carpets, wallpaper, cement tiles, decorative pillows and, most recently, we’ve added ponchos. I’m also developing travel and entertainment collections. In between collections, we design and manufacture custom carpets, wallpaper and tiles for hospitality, residential and commercial spaces. To produce our designs, we work with artisans from around the world, but all the designs are available at our studio in Brooklyn, NY, and the Amy Dutton Home showroom in Maine. We also have a licensed collection of custom carpet with Kravet, available at select Kravet showrooms nationwide.”
What are keys to developing a successful brand?
“There are many, but I will share three that have really helped me in my journey:
- Be confident about your work.
- Be clear and consistent about your message.
- Dare to do something different.”
How have you kept up with changing times?
“My initial goal when I started Malene B was to create a lifestyle brand. I started by designing carpets and I let that be the focus for a few years. I knew it was important to diversify our product selection in order to grow, so two years ago, I started to introduce new product categories.
“I also developed an eguide series called ‘Malene B Essentials’ as a way to help creative entrepreneurs develop their own creative businesses. The four-part series is a blueprint detailing how to source product, market it and sell it.”
What does the future hold for your brand?
“I want to collaborate with more brands to expand in different categories: dinnerware, furniture, lighting, bedding, bath and sportswear. I also look forward to creating a space in the Caribbean designed for people to visit and experience the work in a way that they can’t in a showroom. Lastly, I want to engage more with creative entrepreneurs. I enjoy sharing my experience in the hope of inspiring, so more speaking engagements are definitely on the horizon.”