Guildery, an e-commerce company that’s putting technology to use by offering digitally printed fabrics and other home accessories like pillows, drapes, ottomans, and more, has closed on $2.1 million in seed funding from Forerunner Ventures, Cowboy Ventures, SoftTech and AOL’s BBG Ventures*. The funding comes at a time when Guildery is also expanding its retail presence and is preparing to roll out new online tools that will allow consumers to customize the colors of the fabrics offered on its site.
Founded in late 2013 by Shane Reilly, ex-founder of Decorati, acquired by Gilt Groupe, and Kelly Berger, ex-technical co-founder of Tinyprints, acquired by Shutterfly, Guildery launched to solve a problem that consumers often face when it comes to decorating their own homes. That is, many people don’t know how to put colors and patterns together in order to complete a room.
On the Guildery website, the company offers a range of collections in varying styles that simplify decorating. Using an online editor, website visitors can virtually drape fabrics over individual items to see how they look, as well as place items next to each other in order to see how a particular piece pairs with another. For instance, you could visually see the ottoman, drapes and lampshade you’re interested in next to each other to get a sense of how they would look in your own home. It’s like an online representation of a designer’s color or mood board, basically.
But what really defines Guildery as a tech startup is its backend, which has now been upgraded. In most fabric houses, a company would take in the artwork from the designer – a pattern, a scan, etc. – and then put in a lot of manual labor into creating the actual pattern.
“Since we’re a tech company, we’ve built the whole process for taking in the art file and being able to do all of that work automatically on the backend,” explains Reilly.
“But the most important thing is that in terms of scaling the business, the fact that we can now offer any pattern in any color or any combination of colors – that’s were you get hundreds of thousands of combinations for any single pattern.”
At launch, the company featured 40,000 different SKUs across its product lines, but with the upcoming launch of its custom design tools, that selection, as noted above, will grow significantly. All the combinations won’t be displayed to website visitors, of course – instead, consumers will be able to pick and choose new colors for the fabrics on the Guildery site using simple tools. They can customize the fabrics using the company’s own pre-configured palettes, or can start from scratch using their own colors.
And because colors online may vary from those in real life, shoppers are also able to request customer printed fabric samples, as well as swatch books.
According to Reilly, the company has also expanded the number of designers whose work it licenses to over 100, up from 40 at the time of the site’s debut. As each designer brings many designs to Guildery, that means the product selection in terms of prints has expanded, as well.
Reilly declined to say how many customers have ordered on Guildery or detail its sales volume, but the company’s pricing comes in at the higher end of the market for now – similar in pricing to something like Restoration Hardware. It’s below the cost of a design center, she says, but it’s not cheap, either.
While being able to customize fabrics online is a handy feature, Guildery is also pursuing a retail strategy. The company has launched its own pop-up shop in Los Altos, Calif., where customers can see products in person and coordinate with items they own, or even bring in samples, photos, or paint chips and receive special assistance.
Another retailer in San Francisco, Anyon Atelier, is additionally piloting the company’s wholesaler program by launching a shop-within-a-shop, which will feature Guildery products. The idea is that retailers and boutiques will be able to order from the site at a discount to sell to consumers who shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. But since they have the ability to order custom fabrics, no retailer has to have the exact same selections as another, Reilly notes.
Currently a team of ten full-time, Guildery will use the new funding to hire technical and marketing staff and continue building its platform.
*Disclosure: TechCrunch’s parent company is AOL. Wait…actually it’s Verizon now.