IFDA-NY Beyond Beauty Sustainability Panel: A Peek Behind the Product Curtain – Bringing Sustainability to Scale Urban Wood for Good: Sustainable furniture to serve people and the planet.
Panel Description: Join IFDA-NY Chapter President David Santiago and members from Room & Board and the brand’s commercial arm, Room & Board Business Interiors, over Zoom for an insider’s view of the company’s sustainability and product development practices, including first-of-its-kind Urban Wood Program. Learn how the brand is taking an untapped, undervalued wood supply chain and making furniture on a national scale that’s timeless, enduring, and better yet—sustainable.
David Santiago, NY Chapter President, IFDA (Moderator) President of IFDA’s NY Chapter, David Santiago is an award-winning interior designer, owner of Casa Santi Interior Design firm and creator of the “Strictly Santi” brand. Bringing 20 years of experience in hospitality and residential design, Santiago is known for blending transitional and classical sensibilities with the unexpected. In addition to creating stunning interiors, he has also launched a lighting collection with American Brass & Crystal Lighting, and a wallpaper collection with Bijou wallcoverings. Known as the “Prince of Wallpaper,” he is considered an influencer by the High Point Market Authority and is a familiar face and voice in the media as the design and lifestyle correspondent for “The Donna Drake Show” on CBS NY and as a guest designer on the NBC television series, “George to the Rescue.” Santiago is also an accomplished opera singer and has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the NYC Opera, among others.
Gene Wilson, Vice President of Merchandising & Vendor Management, Room & Board (Panelist)
Gene Wilson, Vice President of Merchandising & Vendor Management, joined Room & Board in 1998 and has been actively involved in sourcing, merchandising, product design, and business development throughout his career. His passion lies in aligning resources to create value and achieve positive outcomes for customers, staff, vendor partners, and the community. He is one of the pioneering leaders behind the company’s Urban Wood Project – a sustainability and community-based initiative spanning multiple organizations and regions that not only creates products using reclaimed materials otherwise destined for landfills, but also provides jobs to underserved communities. Wilson lives in Minnesota and holds a BBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in marketing and finance with an MBA from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management in marketing and operations.
Emily McGarvey, Director of Sustainability, Room & Board (Panelist)
Director of Sustainability for Room & Board, Emily McGarvey brings 20 years of experience spearheading social and environmental strategies with a focus on product, supply chain, operations, and branding. Leading sustainability initiatives for Room & Board and Room & Board Business Interiors, the brand’s commercial arm, she is strategically focused on bringing sustainability to the forefront of furniture manufacturing. Prior to her role with the company, McGarvey served as Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Target, where she played an integral role in developing the corporation’s sustainability program, rolling out enterprise-wide initiatives including the company’s chemical management and transparency policy and their incredibly popular Car Seat Trade-In program. In 2018, she founded Star Impact Consulting, where she provided purpose-driven strategy and branding for both for-profit and nonprofit business sectors such as Apparel Impact Institute.
Jenon Bailie, Merchandising & Design Director, Room & Board (Panelist)
Director of Merchandising & Design for Room & Board, Jenon Bailie brings 25 years of experience designing, developing, and merchandising products, 18 of which have been with Room & Board. Passionate about leading creative teams to innovate and explore newness in details of materials, shape, and color while respecting reference to timeless historic elements, Bailie has a keen ability to assess the opportunities of a business. She intuitively leads new design concepts to solve customer needs to help them create spaces they love. Prior to joining Room & Board, Bailie led a ready-to-wear design team with a focus on trend, color, and textile design for the apparel industry.
Elise Nicpon, Director of Business Customer Experience, Room & Board Business Interiors (Panelist)
Elise Nicpon is the Director of Business Customer Experience for Room & Board Business Interiors (BI). She brings more than 20 years of retail and direct sales experience to this position. Nicpon has been with Room & Board for 14 years, most recently as National Business Development Manager where she excelled at leading and inspiring focused sales teams. With a passion for finding creative design solutions, Nicpon is dedicated to making the entire experience easy for customers from initial contact through delivery. She believes home and work life can be made better through the craftsmanship, beautiful materials and design of the Room & Board assortment.
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