Emdee International was established in 1994 by two women entrepreneurs, Manju Vaswani and Deepa Dharamrup. Since launching the company, the pair set high standards by providing quality textile products and premium service to its customers and have maintained those values for over 25 years.
Under their ownership, Emdee has grown to be one of the leading distributors of unique home textiles in the U.S. market. The company’s products are globally sourced and includes products made in India, China, Belgium, Italy, and the United States. Emdee’s largest category is drapery panels and they were the first company to bring 10-foot, ready-made drapery panels to the U.S. market.
Emdee International became clients of the Atlanta Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Advanced Manufacturing Center in 2017, intending to optimize operations and scale their textile business. The Atlanta MBDA team provided technical assistance and work sessions for Emdee to help them discover the resources and opportunities that will enhance their business and processes. After a round of meetings and goal setting, the MBDA Center staff drafted an action plan for Emdee.
In 2018, the owners were introduced by MBDA Center staff to Georgia Tech’s Southeastern Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (SETAAC) (www.setaac.org) to help them achieve their business goals.
Emdee was seeking funding to (1) enhance its online and e-commerce client experience and account management, (2) increase sales, and (3) scale its operations. After partnering with SETAAC, Emdee secured funding, aggressively enhanced its marketing tactics, increased its product visibility in the global market, and landed a partnership with the luxury furniture retailer, Perigold.
See the full Q&A detailed below.
What were/are EMDEE’s challenges?
Our biggest challenge is not being able to penetrate the market with our products. Being a textile company, our customers need to touch and feel our product. With our showrooms being closed and people not being able to touch and feel the product, we have had to put more dollars into making swatches to send out free of charge to design firms.
What are EMDEE’s goals?
Our goal is to increase market share and diversify our client base to increase revenue streams. More aggressive marketing tactics need to be developed and implemented to ensure better online and e-commerce client experience and account management. We are relying on SETAAC’s additional funding to help us achieve these goals.
How did SETAAC help to achieve EMDEE’s goals?
SETAAC funds enabled us to do high quality, professional photography to showcase our products on our website, and catalogs. Better image quality allowed us to pursue and offer our products online at PERIGOLD.com (a Wayfair-owned company). This is a new revenue source for Emdee.
What are the results of EMDEE partnering with SETAAC?
We have been able to upgrade our website and improve our online image. As a result, we have secured additional business accounts which allowed us to hire a person to focus on social media and a business manager to help us channel our creative minds into sensible business decisions.
How did EMDEE pivot and change during COVID-19?
We are taking this time to update our photography, our website platform, web design as well as sending out personal email marketing campaigns to our customers. We made masks to send out with all our orders so that our customers know that we appreciate their business and are thinking of their health. We designed a new product for hospitality to support COVID-19 social distancing guidelines that has been very well received.
At the Atlanta MBDA Centers, we value our trusted and proven network of resources, expertise, and partners. Our assistance to Emdee International is an example of our commitment to ensuring our clients’ success. As we continue to serve Minority Business Enterprises, our goal is to strengthen our partnerships and gain more resources to assist our clients with scaling their businesses.