Buying new drapes or shades is not, generally, one of the more exciting parts of decorating your home. Most of us think of window treatments (if we think of them at all) as a functional product, one that keeps light out at night and nosy neighbors from looking in.
But a new direct-to-consumer startup, Barn & Willow, wants to make buying custom window treatments delightful, affordable, and fun. The brand first hit the market in beta 2017 with just curtains, but in 2020, it has expanded its product line to compete with the top curtain brands on the market. This year, it launched roller shades, along with curtain rods and rings, and it has even expanded into a line of throw pillows and blankets in the same fabrics as curtains, so you can complete the look of your room.
Founder Trisha Roy has taken a page from other brands that have disrupted sleepy, boring categories, like Warby Parker did with glasses and Away did with luggage. “There hasn’t been any innovation in the world of window covering for decades,” she says. “And there isn’t really a go-to brand that people think of when they’re in the market for curtains or shades. I wanted Barn & Willow to be that brand.”
[Image: courtesy Barn & Willow]
When it comes to outfitting your windows, there are generally two options. If you go the cheaper DIY route, you’re headed to a hardware store or Ikea, choosing off-the-shelf options and praying you’re competent enough to install them once you get home. On the other end of the spectrum, you can get custom drapes from a specialty store. Here, you’ll have many colors and aesthetic options, but it could run you thousands of dollars. “This tends to be the option that interior designers choose,” says Roy. “But many people want to decorate their homes themselves and don’t really know where to start. It’s a very opaque process.”
Barn & Willow wants to offer all the benefits of the high-end approach to windows, but with a much easier decision-making process. And importantly, the brand offers products at a lower price point than brands of comparable quality, thanks to its direct-to-consumer business model that also does away with the overhead costs of a brick-and-mortar store. At Barn & Willow, you can get custom drapes for an entire room for less than $1000, which is about 30% less than competitors of similar quality, like The Shade Store and Smith & Noble. On the brand’s website, there is a chart that lays out the various costs involved with selling custom window treatments, and estimates that other brands mark up their products by about 250% while Barn & Willow only marks them up by 60%.
[Image: courtesy Barn & Willow]
But part of Barn & Willow’s appeal is its simplified user experience online. The website is designed to demystify each step of the process, which can get fairly complex. It involves picking the style of drape or curtain, picking the fabric and color, measuring your windows, then installing the window coverings. So far, Roy has found that the bulk of her customers are millennial home owners in major metropolitan cities, including New York and Atlanta. “…….