10 Questions with Joss & Main’s Alison Campbell
The buyer & Curator for Boston-based Joss & Main shares the next big trends in home decor, talks about decorating her daughter’s nursery, and gives details on guest curators like Courteney Cox.
Boston-based Joss & Main is part of Wayfair, the largest online-only retailer for home in the United States. Using a Pinterest-like interface, “mood board” collections curated by interior design professionals are accessible to shoppers and those just browsing for home-design inspiration.
Alison Campbell, Associate Director of Buying and Curation, spoke with us about predicting supply and demand while taking aesthetic chances, she gave us a sneak peek at what we’ll see trending from fall through the holidays—and inexpensive ways to incorporate those trends—and shared the thrill of decorating a nursery for her daughter, who just celebrated her first birthday.
1. You have a finance degree but now you’re in a role that’s half creative and half business. What’s that like?
I originally went into banking, which I definitely enjoyed. But I really also felt like I wasn’t tapping into my creative side. Coming to Joss & Main I’m challenged every day to balance those two worlds. I’m challenged to gut check ‘Is it trending?,’ ‘Are the customers responding to the visuals?’ and balance that with ‘What inventory can the supplier supply us?’ It could be a great product, but is the demand there?
2. What’s a chance you took when curating that you think paid off?
That Bohemian, Moroccan look is something we were doing well in textiles last year–it’s easy with textiles, which are less expensive, to throw in a pillow or bedding and have that look. But we took a chance on the furniture world and marrying the textiles, bringing in the ikats and the Moroccan vibe. We’ve even worked with our suppliers to do some product development. The accent tables and cutout pieces are trending really well.
3. What’s coming down the pike next?
That ‘marbleized’ look is really picking up and has staying power. We’re also seeing an update to mirrored (as seen above), not necessarily high-shine, but an antique mirrored finish. I’m excited about it because it adds a different texture to a room, whether it be a lamp or a piece of décor. Copper is also starting to trend—it’s sort of the ‘new brass,’ we see it a lot in kitchens. And then as we transition into fall, seeing it paired with colors like navy, auburn, rust.
4. Joss & Main’s palette is mainly light blues and grays at the moment—how do you temper your own preferences while considering your audience’s may vary?
I’m a fall person—I just love the seasonal elements that are brought in, when the weather turns a bit in New England. The light blues and grays are foundation colors that work for our customers all year long. As we come into fall, though, it’s nice to pair navy with gray and start to bring in those richer textiles to round out some of those base colors.
5. Did you stick with neutrals, like most new parents are doing now, or employ a lot of color in your daughter’s nursery?
Her room is pretty neutral—I knew I wanted to anchor the room in white and gray, and add little pops of pink. My personal style is very eclectic, so I searched and scoured for months to find the perfect shabby vintage dresser and paired it with a sleek, modern rocker. You don’t have to feel compelled because you have a baby or young child that you have to go ‘all baby,’ and buy only youth furniture. Just give yourself the permission to get what you want and it doesn’t have to be the traditional rocker your parents had.
6. What are your recommendations for the “home evolution process”?
Don’t be afraid to try new things. It’s daunting to move into a new home and feel like you have to fill rooms. Don’t race to do it all in the first month you move in. Give yourself the permission to do it slowly and make it comfortable. Don’t go out and buy furniture and rugs and pillows and accent chairs to fill big, empty rooms. It’s all about trying a few things and starting to layer in things that you find interesting. You’ll come into your own ‘look’ over time.
7. How does Joss & Main’s home curation process mirror what you’d suggest for the homeowner, especially for a couple whose tastes may differ?
I would definitely recommend a mood board, pulling [ideas] into a visual place helps ground the process. It’s all about pulling in a swatch of color, pulling in pictures of rooms that you saw in magazines or online. Pull in pieces that excite you and start building a look around it. You may find a piece of furniture that’s really, really expensive but go ahead and pull it into your mood board and then you can hunt around and find something that is that ‘look’ but could be a better price.
8. What’s your favorite room to curate?
The living room is the heart of the home for me, where you relax with your family and have guests and entertain. Building something that is really comfortable and where you’re going to spend time with others is something I love thinking about. Typically, it’s a central location in the home so if you’re mixing in styles you can put things in the living room that tie in what’s happening in the dining room and kitchen, too.
9. Joss & Main has partnered up with several celebrities for curated collections, including Courteney Cox and Nicole Richie. Is this something we’ll see more of, and what you’re most excited about?
At the end of the day, home boils down to something basic—common ground. Courteney Cox is giving advice and styling a home in the same way that any of Joss & Main’s (customers) would be, and that really translates well. The process has just been really fun.
I’m really excited for the last part of the year during the holidays. You’ll find staple pieces for holiday décor and entertainment throughout the season, to inspire every type of holiday enthusiast. I think home décor pieces can make great gifts, it’s that little indulgence you may not buy for yourself, but if you know someone’s style, it can make a great present.
10. What’s your approach to curation?
The focus is on trying to be more fashion forward and on-trend with our evening collections (most launch at 11 a.m.). Some of it is inspiration from the runway and we’re able to take cues from pop culture, movies, and TV and do some fun things, like a ’50 Shades of Grey’ event. It’s taking a little bit of a risk that’s a treat.
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This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.