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Follow-Up File: Chameleon Home finds comfy niche

Name: Camay Arad

Job: Owner

Business: Chameleon Home

What she said then: In March of this year, the Follow-Up File reported that Chameleon Home of Arroyo Grande was expanding to open a second store in Pasadena. “I’m splitting the inventory that I have here,” said Camay Arad, who owns Chameleon with her husband, Winton Tullis. “It’ll be a great additional revenue source.”

Chameleon also manufactures its original line of sturdy sofas and other furniture that uses snuglyfitting slipcovers. Its retail shop sells fabrics and home décor, and offers upholstery services.Last spring, Arad was negotiating with P/K Lifestyles, which distributes fabric brands such as Waverly and Tommy Bahama. Chameleon hoped to supply furniture for the company’s showrooms in New York and North Carolina — plus new slipcovers every six months.

Arad also had designs to release a DVD with her flexible design philosophy and to pitch a line of fabric designs to P/K Lifestyles.

What she says now: Chameleon has shipped six pieces of furniture to High Point, N.C., that will be on display from today through Wednesday at the International Textile Market Association’s trade show.

It’ll be swathed in cloth from the Iman Home collection, and Arad confessed she’s hoping to meet the supermodel.

“Donna’s Interiors helped us so much because we’d never shipped furniture before,” Arad said.

Mission Community Services Corp. connected her with an expert who helped Arad prepare presentations — including ones to P/K Lifestyles’ president pitching her fabric line.

P/K balked a little at the upfront furniture costs, Arad said. Accustomed to shipping traditional sofas to be re-covered every year, they asked Chameleon for a discount when the initial cost was about four times what was budgeted.

Arad didn’t come down on price, but offered terms instead. P/K could pay the budgeted amount up front, try out the furniture and pay the balance later.

If successful, the fabricmaker should save on freight and re-upholstering costs in future years. Arad said they can order new slipcovers twice a year for the same cost they paid to re-upholster annually.

At the company’s request, Chameleon designed a new piece: a button-tufted, slip-covered ottoman. It debuted to the public a month ago in the Arroyo Grande store.

“Our furniture is definitely taking off,” Arad said. “I hesitate to say the recession’s over, but people are chomping at the bit. Since September, our furniture sales have tripled and it’s back to almost normal levels after two years of dismal sales.”

The store in Pasadena is going “pretty well,” Arad said. “Not as well as I hoped, but better than I expected.”

With no other designer fabric stores in the city, it’s found a niche with those who don’t want to travel to a neighboring city or into downtown Los Angeles.

Chameleon hopes to film the DVD in January, sharing design tips similar to the ones Arad developed in her shop’s classes.

To boost upholstery business during the annual holiday lull from Dec. 20 to mid-January, she offered a 20 percent discount to those who read her store’s newsletter.

“Within 20 minutes, I had all five slots booked,” she said. “We’re booked through the end of January. This really hasn’t happened before.”

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