How an 85-Year-Old Company Expanded into DTC

December 8, 2023

It’s not uncommon to see STARK carpets in the pages of Architectural Digest or in the homes of some of America’s biggest tastemakers. Jacqueline Kennedy even chose STARK for the flooring in the Oval Office during her husband’s presidency.

Chad and Ashley Stark, the third generation to run the family business, have the unique challenge of evolving STARK while maintaining the brand’s iconic heritage. Here’s how the duo have taken an omnichannel approach and retained their longstanding relationships with interior designers in the trade.

Launching a direct-to-consumer line

STARK did more than just put its inventory online. Ashley designed a direct-to-consumer--first line of rugs, carpets, and other home goods under the name Ashley Stark Home. 

The brand was born out of suggestions from Ashley’s more than one million Instagram followers, who wanted to know where to buy the products in her posts. Instead of directing her followers to other companies, she decided to sell the goods herself. “I believe in these products because a lot of the things that are on there are actually things from my own home and actually things that I wanted to use,” Ashley says.

Building tools for online customers

One of the first things Ashley and Chad learned about selling DTC was that it was very different from the model they were used to. 

The marketing costs, the churn, and the return rate were all higher. The average order value was lower, and it took more customer education to prove the company’s value and history. “You could, with not that much money and some great photography, launch a new brand online that can appear as heritage as a company like ours,” Chad says.

Chad and Ashley worked to build more tools for customers that could help make their shopping experience world class. STARK added a visualizer tool, so online customers could picture what STARK products would look like in their home. And they simplified the inventory online so customers wouldn’t get overwhelmed by too many options.

STARK also relies on its network of showrooms and encourages online customers to visit if they want to see products in-person.

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