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Drew Barrymore Joins the Home Team(s)

We all first met Drew Barrymore as Gertie in her living room in the movie E.T. But now she wants to come into your living room. The famed actress, who goes back to Hollywood royalty with her Barrymore family roots and has had her share of career ups and downs, is the latest celebrity to get into the home furnishings business.

In March, Walmart announced a new collection of Drew Barrymore home products under the Flower Home name available, at least for now, only online. Besides being able to buy it on Walmart.com, shoppers can also find it on jet.com and haymarket.com (both Walmart divisions) and its own dedicated site, flowerbydrew.com.

The 200-piece program runs the home gamut from furniture like sofas and beds to home décor items including decorative pillows, vases, wall art, lighting and bed and bath. The Flower branding ties in with several other programs she has launched including Flower Beauty and Flower Press, not to mention her production company Flower Films. All are a homage, at least partially, to her big breakout role in E.T., she says in an interview with People. “I tell Steven Spielberg (who directed the film) I love hearts and flowers because E.T. had a big, red beating heart and I would always bring him flowers.” And like many other celebrities who move into the home space, she adamantly claims an affinity for the field. “I’ve been saying I wanted to go into home and design for 20 years because it’s really where my life and my passion lies. Now, finally, finally we’re here.” Be that as it may, Barrymore joins a long – very long – list of actors, movie stars and entertainment celebrities who have jumped into home…despite no apparent connection with the design field.

Home Brands Come from the Unlikeliest Places

As such, she falls into one of the four broad classifications of name brands that have inundated the home field over the past two decades:

  1. 1irst and foremost are true designers with strong home furnishings pedigrees. These include interior designers such as the late Mario Buatta, artisans like Jonathan Adler or the recently launched home collection from rug designer Ben Soliemani. Sadly, these brands tend to be the smaller names in the home business these days, despite their talents and heritage.
  2. Then there are the designer names that have migrated from other fields, most notably apparel. Ralph Lauren would certainly be the best known and among the longest running, but in this crowd you can also add in Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Laura Ashley and Donna Karan among the perennials and more recent entries like Vera Wang, Steve Madden and Kate Spade. These tend to move in and out of fashion and very often are cycled down to the Third Tier stores like HomeGoods and Ross where they take on new lives.
  3. Next up is perhaps the hottest selling branded category in the market right now: the TV home show names. Number one in this genre right now is unquestionably Joanna and Chip Gaines of Magnolia Home, who have set the current model for success. But there is a seemingly endless supply of these names, all spun off from cable and network series, usually on HGTV. The Property Brothers, Libby Langdon, Nate Berkus and Candace Olson are only a few of the current crop but the list goes on and on. And collectively they are probably the best selling names in the home business today.
  4. Finally, there is the category Drew Barrymore is joining, those celebrities who profess a life-long love for home even though they seemingly have no connection whatsoever to the category. Other than perhaps they know what they like and live in beautiful homes they may or may not have had anything to do with decorating. Ellen DeGeneres is probably leading this list these days but again it’s a lengthy one that goes all the way back to Jaclyn Smith’s long-running program with Kmart up through perhaps the all-time oddity, boxer George Foreman and his kitchen grill device. While the vast majority of these brands crash and burn out pretty quickly, every once in a while one hits gold: the Foreman Grill is generally considered the best selling small appliance of all time.

It’s hard to predict whether Barrymore’s program will have the staying power of George Foreman…or the blip-on-the-radar that was Diane Keaton’s short-loved home collection. But as Gertie told her disbelieving family about E.T.’s ability to speak, “I’m not stupid, you know.” Far more unlikely plot twists have played out in the home business.

Warren Shoulberg is available to license his name for a home program wherever credenzas are sold.

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