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 include 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 secure cost-share federal matching funds available to manufacturers through SETAAC.
Emdee needed additional funding to (1) enhance its online and e-commerce client experience and account management, (2) increase sales, and (3) scale its operations. Emdee was successful in securing federal cost-share matching funds through the program and used most of these funds to enhance their marketing and sales strategies to create market awareness, improve their online presence and to promote new products; as a result, Emdee landed a partnership with the luxury furniture retailer, Perigold, a new revenue source for the firm.
In December 2019, SETAAC successfully amended Emdee’s original Adjustment Proposal for funding, and Emdee was awarded additional federal cost-share matching funds to implement additional projects to support new marketing strategies and product lines.
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 identified a niche market and were able to quickly adapt our processes to produce high-quality chair runners to support COVID-19 social distancing and sanitation guidelines. These runners have been very well received by the hospitality, education and health industries.
These attractive runners could be customized to each client’s specifications to include size, color, embroidery, company logo, etc. We have also created swatches to be sent to customers for approval before ordering. Product Specifications for Standard Runners:
- Standard runner size: 12X32
- Face Fabric: Charcoal Twill with ivory embroidery
- Lining: Anti slip fabric (prevents slipping from the back of the chair)
- Fabric Content: 100% poly
- Cleaning: Machine washable
- Quality & Safety: Meets NFPA 260 CA117, UFAC1 Standard
- Antibacterial option for customers in the health industry
At SETAAC, our commitment is to assist trade-impacted manufacturers in our region to recover from the negative effects of competition with cheaper imports. SETAAC is operated by the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA and is under a cooperative agreement with EDA. Under this program, import-impacted manufacturers can receive matching funds for projects that strengthen operations and sharpen competitiveness through the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms program. SETAAC supports manufacturers in the Southeastern region, which includes: AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC and TN. Once manufacturers are certified into the program, the firm is awarded federal cost-share matching funds to implement strategic growth projects in the areas of Sales & Marketing, Management, Finance, Operations and Management Systems.
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.