In addition to a fresh, new logo , the industry association formerly known as the Accessories Resource Team  (now in transition to be ART – A Creative Home Furnishings Network) is also freshening up by courting its youngest potential members.
Just as the American Lighting Assn.  Young Executives  group gets its own activities in addition to other member programming, ART is creating a series of compelling under-40 events in tandem with major markets to foster the next generation of the home accessories industry.
The first of these events kicked off at the recent Las Vegas Market  with a tour of nearby Zappos  headquarters. Aside from its successful, service-oriented model, the online retailer is famous for its laid-back and creative atmosphere. Even the top executives sit in cubicles among the masses (in an area called Monkey Row) — just the sort of rule-breaking environment that draws Generation Y, right?
As an over-40 interloper who was invited along for the ride, I was concerned that these impressionable 20- and 30-somethings would see the green grass (and free food) at Zappos and become frustrated with home furnishings’ old-school ways.
While everyone on the trip — a count, coincidentally, just under 40 — could appreciate how Zappos retained its small-company culture despite its growth, my informal survey could not find a single participant who would want to work there. “Did you see how dirty it was?” “I couldn’t stand not having a door.” “It reminded me of a frat house.” “No, thanks!”
I was relieved to learn that these Gen Y representatives were just as professional in their mindset and they appeared on the outside in their suits and shifts. Yet they still bring with them a new perspective, new ways to communicate and savvy beyond their years. The more comfortable they are navigating the traditional business landscape, the more effective they will be at revolutionizing it in the long run.
The next ART under-40 outing will be during the January Dallas Market . Stay tuned for details.