Weekly Briefing: Light Touch Has Firm Active in Remodeling

With respective degrees in interior design from UCLA and arts and design from Gray's School of Art in Scotland, Peter Nielsen and Ian Arthur were well suited to run Los Angeles-based Fabby Inc., which designs, manufactures and sells lighting fixtures. Arthur actually began the business as a giftware company in 1984, but within two years, customers started asking for lighting products. Nielsen said he became a partner in 1988 to transform the vibrant business into what it remains today.

"Ian and I design all of the lights. We also do custom work. All of our lighting is ceramic (and) handmade in our factory here in Los Angeles. We make ceramic sconces, ceiling lights and hanging lights, and a pendant light, which is smaller than a chandelier. We offer over 400 styles, ranging from contemporary to Mediterranean, Art Deco and Southwestern and many styles feature our signature cutout motifs, which are perforations in the body of the light fixture.

"We have a total of 12 employees nine in the factory and three running the showroom, including Ian and me.

"Usually people use us when they are remodeling. The (products) enhance the architectural character in a home because they play off the moldings and arches.

"We sell primarily to consumers about 70 percent and 30 percent is interior designers. Half of our retail sales are done through our catalog, which they order by phone, or off our Web site. We are a manufacturer that sells to the general public. Most manufacturers mass-produce and sell through chain lighting showrooms.

"We sell between 10,000 and 12,000 units a year. The sconces and pendant lights range from $100 to $300, depending on the complexity of the design and the size. The hanging lights range are between $150 and $200. The average sale is two to three lights. When people are sprucing up their house, it's at least two rooms.

"Spring, summer and fall are the busiest times although it's pretty evenly spread out. The holidays are not a time for home remodeling. Christmas and tax time are the quiet times."

David Greenberg

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