Zak Profera explains why Zak+Fox stopped selling to consumers

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Zak Profera lived many lives. He grew up in the music industry watching his mother work at the old Shots magazine, studied photography and then conceptual art at the San Francisco Art Institute but left just before graduation, worked in data entry at Sony Music before the streaming revolution, got into carpet design and even dabbled in writing for One Kings Lane – all before he turned 30.

Profera and ShinjiCourtesy of Zak+Fox

Throughout a busy start to his career, Profera nurtured a dream: to go all out in his own business. It wasn’t until he was made redundant from One Kings Lane that he finally took the plunge and launched the Zak+Fox textile brand. “You start to realize the potential of things, and you start to see what’s possible and to dream a little bit,” Profera told the host. Denis Scully on the last episode of The Home Business Podcast. “I have high hopes, but I’m pretty down to earth and realistic when it comes to what’s possible and what I believe is possible. … And here we are now, 10 years later .

Named after Profera and his beloved Shiba Inu, Shinji, Zak+Fox started with 10 “eclectic and worldly” designs, all printed on linen. At the start of the business, Zak+Fox joined the New York showroom Studio Four, but Profera soon decided to pull out of the showroom and sell Zak+Fox on its own. Although he had limited experience with textiles when he started his business, he sees this as a strength.

“I’m really grateful for being so naive, because I can be an anxious person,” says Profera. “If I have a lot of fear hanging over me, or a lot of people telling me everything that can go wrong, it’s going to linger. So not really [knowing] everything was great, because it allowed me not to be afraid.

Despite the influx of digital options dividing the industry, Profera lands firmly on the side of in-person experiences. The ability to feel the soft fabric, admire the details of a wallpaper up close and physically immerse yourself in a carefully decorated showroom gives way to a personal connection that a virtual experience cannot provide. That connection, says Profera, can be diluted by a screen. “We work in a truly tactile industry; there’s no getting around it,” he says. “We’ve become much more comfortable and nimble with all the digital resources we had at our fingertips over the past two years, but we’re creating a tangible physical product, so you have to experience it in person. “

While the pandemic has underscored the benefits of an in-person experience, it has also given Profera time to reflect on its business priorities. He re-evaluated some of Zak+Fox’s business practices and decided that Zak+Fox would stop selling to consumers; instead of balancing both commerce and retail, the brand would focus solely on commerce. “Our audience is commerce, and we want to support that,” says Profera. “I like the fact that it’s a niche; I love how community driven it is. It’s nice to be in a little bubble sometimes.

Elsewhere in the episode, Profera shares plans to build a new Zak+Fox studio, teases an expansion of the company’s product categories to include rugs and cushions, and explains what sets Zak+Fox apart from the competition. “I think people come to us because things seem layered, rich and full of stories,” says Profera. “We do a mix of more artisanal stuff, and we certainly work with more weavers and commercial printers, but that doesn’t diminish the heart and soul that goes into both. I think people come to us for the texture and the nuance and the insane detail that I bring to things.

Listen to the show below. If you like what you hear, subscribe on Apple podcast Where Spotify. This episode was sponsored by Modern material and Highlight Market.

Home page image: Zak Profera | Courtesy of Zak Profera

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