Bradley-Hughes, furniture showroom, Atlanta, Georgia.
Michelle Bradley, owner of the design company Bradley-Hughes was recently named to Atlanta Homes magazine "Twenty Under Forty" - their yearly list of the younger movers and shakers in the design field. What's amazing about Michelle is that she has accomplished all that she has and is STILL under forty! What an inspiration she is. The company she started five years ago is multi-faceted: specializing in furniture design, Bradley-Hughes also works with concrete - there is a line of sinks, countertops and even colored stains for concrete floors. Then there is the glass division that designs framed mirrors. Additionally, Bradley-Hughes has patented an acid solution that turns sheets of mirrors into aged, antiqued works of art.
Michelle Bradley doesn't work alone, though. Along the way, she has brought artisans under the Bradley-Hughes umbrella: Heidi Pierce designs hand painted wallpapers that are available in either a texture or a geometric or damask print. Another artist working with Michelle is Donna Hughes who produces beautiful oil canvases. At the recent show in High Point, Hughes' art work was totally sold out! The newest member to the team is Phillip Barlow who brings an edgy, rock n roll feel to Bradley Hughes.
The showroom is located in Atlanta, Georgia, but things are happening for Bradley-Hughes. Calls from dealers and showrooms are coming in daily asking for territory rights. And especially exciting for Texans, the Dallas showroom, I.D. Collection is now representing Bradley-Hughes. Most fulfilling for Michelle is the large amount of positive press for Bradley-Hughes, proof that her hard work is finally paying off.
Despite her hectic schedule, Ms. Bradley graciously agreed to sit down for an interview with Cote de Texas:
The young and attractive, Michelle Bradley, owner of Bradley-Hughes.
1. Tell us about yourself - where you grew up, where you went to college, your age (if you dare!) what your early dreams for your life were.
I am originally from New York City and grew up in the nearby suburbs of Connecticut. ; ) I studied art and design in London and Atlanta and received my Bachelors of Fine Arts from the American College of Fine Arts, majoring in Interior Design with a minor in art history. I worked for Interior Designers or Interiors showrooms while in high school and college. During my last two years in college, I worked as an intern with a very talented group of designers and architects in one of Atlanta’s top design firms; our specialty was very high-end commercial spaces with a few high-wealth residences sprinkled in; but mainly prestigious law firms, corporate offices and lobbies.
Gradually, my home-based business grew to the point where I was forced to hire a few employees and find a space to open a showroom and design center. In 2003, I opened our first Bradley Hughes showroom on Miami Circle in Atlanta; and since then we have expanded that space twice; this is still the headquarters for Bradley Hughes, but manufacturing and warehousing are done at other locations in metro Atlanta.
2. How did you get into furniture design - what was the road that lead you here?
I love all aspects of interior design, architecture and art, but my passion has always been furniture design. I view furniture design being part artist, inventor and visionary. As I worked on design projects over the years, I always looked for opportunities to design and fabricate custom pieces for my clients. In the early years of Bradley Hughes, I was fortunate to have a couple of very flexible clients that trusted me enough (and had the budget) to let me design one-of-kind pieces for their homes. I found that for many of my high end projects, the clients were really drawn to the notion of having a custom or a first-of-its-kind furniture piece. This process worked great for me, since the clients were funding the product development and I already had a sale before cutting any fabric. As the collection of designs grew, it enabled me to develop a style of my own and manufacture the line on a small scale so I could bring the price point down to a level below high-end custom.
We now have over 100 different pieces in the Bradley Hughes furniture collection, which includes upholstered furniture, occasional tables, concrete products, lighting, mirrors and accessories. We are also developing a line of case pieces that will have our exclusive pearlized hand-applied lacquer finish that really sets them apart.
3. Tell us about your business - do you own it alone or with partners? Has the economy been good for Bradley Hughes or is that a concern?
I am the founder and sole owner of Bradley Hughes. But Bradley Hughes is made up of a very dedicated group of people that help us deliver world class furnishings to our customers around the world. In addition to our full time team of professionals that work in our Atlanta showroom, we also have an eclectic group of artisans and manufacturers that hand-craft all of our products right here in the USA. Our brand seems to be gaining popularity around the country as we continue to add independent dealers that carry our line in their showrooms in major design centers. We have recently exhibited at High Point Furniture Market InterHall as well as the HD Boutique Furniture Show in Miami. I definitely have the typical ‘creative type’ personality, but our rapid growth has forced me to also focus on the other aspects of running a business like: customer relations, accounting, HR and manufacturing. I tend to work well with other designers, artists, and even people who are linear thinkers (think yin & yang) and I view everyone that I work with as a partner in some way.
Building a business is never accomplished by one person; I definitely believe in the power of synergy, and utilizing other people’s strengths to compliment mine. This philosophy has been the reason why Bradley Hughes keeps growing and evolving, even in our turbulent economic times. We are keeping a cautious eye toward a large slow down in the economy, and specifically the real estate market, which could trickle down and impact the furnishings industry. But so far, for our company all indications appear to signal more growth and expansion for us this year.
4. What drew you to specialize in concrete design?
I was drawn to the beauty and versatility of concrete. Concrete can look either old-world and traditional, or very new, clean and modern. I was lucky enough to meet a local artisan who developed a concrete blend that could be custom formed into custom slabs and countertops and even bowl shapes for integral kitchen and bath sinks and had an aggregate base. The fabrication of Bradley Hughes concrete is a true art form.
We started with just one sink design in a handful of colors. As its popularity grew, we continued to add colors to our pallet that we knew would appeal to sophisticated designers, while also improving the quality and durability of the product. We then introduced the concrete product into our furniture line and architectural products like fireplace surrounds, bath vanities and floor tiles. More recently we have been placing our concrete products in luxury hotels, restaurants and high rise condominiums. It’s a huge hit with architects and designers who work in the hospitality and luxury high-rise construction market.
Very soon, we will be launching a nation-wide marketing effort for our water-based concrete floor stain. Geostain is an environmentally safer alternative to acid based stains and much easier to apply. We have installed this product recently in larger projects like the W Hotel and other commercial and residential spaces. We use a certified installer for high profile commercial projects, but we will be offering it as a bottled product for small contractors and DIY projects.
5. I love your upholstery - many of your pieces have an architectural quality to them - is this conscious?
I agree, our upholstery designs are very clean-lined and orthogonal. I generally do not like cording or tons of trim on upholstered pieces. I like my sofas to be sleek, deep, and comfortable. We want our pieces to have the understated appeal of a classic architectural element, yet be stylish and trendy enough for people to want one (or two) for their home. I am glad you love them too!
6. You work with a lot of famous designers - can you tell us about that without breaking confidentiality?
I am proud and flattered to work with some of the most talented designers and architectural firms in the country. Our firm is known for working with young, cutting edge designers like Heidi Pierce, Christy Dillard, and Wendy Blount. We also supply product to top renowned designers Suzanne Kasler and Susan Ferrier. It is especially satisfying to see our pieces featured in national magazine articles showcasing their incredible award-winning work. We view it as a great compliment when top designers call us to bounce around their latest custom design concepts or when they just want to specify one of our standard designs.
7. Your company has gotten a lot of press and seems poised for a big break out - is that exciting or frightening?
I would say our rapid growth has provided many exciting moments and a few sleepless nights. We have received a lot of positive press lately, which I view as an indication that our line is being accepted by designers and clientele nationwide. Dealers and showrooms are calling us every week to carry our line or to try to get exclusive territory rights in their region. The most exciting part of this venture for me is being able to share my ideas with other creative people to create stylish furniture and accessories. Our work helps designers, architects, and homeowners connect to create beautiful living and working environments.
8. And lastly, what do you see for the future of Bradley Hughes - how large do you want to become, what are your future goals, what is left for you to conquer?
As far as future growth, we are constantly working toward improving our company infrastructure, business processes and manufacturing supply chain so that we can continue to offer the same level of style, product quality, and customer service that our customers have become accustom to. These are the values that got us here, and we plan to do whatever it takes to continue to keep our customers happy and coming back for more!
Bradley-Hughes as presented at trade shows like High Point.
The new Phillip Barlow skull fabric line, which will be showcased at the ID Collection in Dallas.
A collection of Bradley-Hughes products. Heidi Pierce's hand painted wallpaper covers the back wall.
A favorite of mine from the line: a large, tufted ottoman.
I love the way this chair is upholstered with its loose skirt.
An armchair from Bradley-Hughes. The spare, clean lines lend a contemporary edge to the traditional wing chair.
This tufted sofa has wonderfully shaped arms and a beautiful curved back.
This dining table on an iron base is topped with concrete and rests on oversized casters which gives it a Belgian feel.
A concrete sink on an iron base makes a unique addition to the bathroom.
Bradley-Hughes: concrete mantle, interior design work of Suzzanne Williams of Atlanta.
Above this fireplace, panes of mirror are treated with Bradley-Hughes' acid solution which gives the mirror an antiqued appearance. Picture: Interior design by Wendy Blount of Atlanta.
An atmospheric oil canvas by Donna Hughes can be seen behind the armchair. Examples of Hughes art work, along with all Bradley-Hughes product can be seen on it's web site here.
If you want information on how to contact Bradley-Hughes, please visit their web site for the information. I hope you've enjoyed learning about this exciting company and it's dynamic owner. And thanks especially to Michelle for agreeing to share her thoughts with Cote de Texas readers!