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Beyond Décor: Rachel Nunziata

Introducing Substrate Bank, a Platform for Digital Printers of Interior Décor

Rachel Nunziata sits down with Marco Stevens, the co-founder of the searchable library.

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LET ME INTRODUCE you to the co-founder of Substrate Bank and fellow millennial print professional, Marco Stevens, based in the Netherlands. I came across Substrate Bank earlier this year during my usual Google search for “digitally printed interior décor.” I was pleased to (finally) find an online platform to discover different materials for decorative print applications; it’s a welcoming space for designers, specifiers, and PSPs. I mean, is it just me or has our industry desperately needed this solution for years? If you haven’t heard of Substrate Bank, you soon will, and you’ll see their name more and more as the print industry evolves for future generations. If you’ve been following Beyond Décor throughout the year, you’ll notice one of my favorite topics is Gen Z. That’s because Millennials’ hot streak has long been over. As we strive to attract the next generation of print industry professionals to the talent pool, it’s critical to build for it.

You can read or watch the full interview below.

PHOTO GALLERY (11 IMAGES)


 

R: Thanks so much for joining us today. To begin, can you tell us about your professional background and how you got into the print industry?

M: After I graduated six years ago in International Business, I started my first job in marketing for a large European distributor that supplies brands of print media to the world. And because of my role in marketing, I visited tradeshows and learned about the industry. It really excites me. I love the work in this industry.

R: Can you tell us how Substrate Bank came about and how you came up with this concept?

M: It started from my role as a marketing manager where I was responsible for pushing brands of substrates into the market. I noticed there were not a lot of ways to promote a company and the products digitally. Besides having your own website, social media, and digital campaigns, I was looking for some type of platform where all these manufacturers are collected. I asked myself, where do people go? I was looking at other industries, and I noticed in the architecture and design industry these types of platforms already exist, where all the leading manufacturers of the industry are collected; and the materials, that in a few clicks you can find the materials you are looking for. Because I couldn’t find it, I decided to develop such a thing myself and that’s how Substrate Bank was created.

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R: It also looks like a great place for designers to go in terms of interior décor. Is that something you see the website being used for, as well? Maybe designers or specifiers out there who are shopping for different materials, too?

M: Yes, the platform is not only built for PSPs that want to source materials. It can also help designers and specifiers because they can find the materials that are also used in interior décor, for example. So instead of browsing multiple company websites looking for materials that match their design, they can easily look for materials for digital printing. Also, specifiers; they have complex responsibilities because they need to know about every material, all aspects, and have a lot of knowledge. Whether it’s for interior design or a global marketing campaign, they need a trusted source of information and they prefer this to be in one place. For example, environmental aspects or sustainability. With Substrate Bank they can use it as a tool to search for materials for digital printing even if they do not print themselves. They can look for a manufacturer that matches their design or campaign.

R: What would you say are your short-term and your long-term goals for Substrate Bank? What does that look like?

M: We started last year to grow the platform, so in the short term we hope to bring in new manufacturers and we want to grow in different product categories and applications to diversify the offering. From interior design to floor graphics, to retail – all types of applications that are out there. For the long term, we want to be the go-to source for the industry. So, when people think of new materials, they type in substratebank.com

R: We’ve had a couple of conversations earlier and we talked about generational trends and what the future of our generation and younger generations looks like, especially for the printing industry. What would you say the print industry specifically needs to change for future growth and how the next generation will be shopping, especially in interior décor, and in the print segment specifically?

M: In interior décor I believe that we need to connect more, especially with the architecture and design world as we learn to speak their language because they look at materials differently, more from a design perspective. Also, to make connections and find synergies together. And when looking at generations, I believe that Gen Z demands full transparency throughout the supply chain. They really want to know who manufacturers are, how products are made, how sustainable they are (how sustainably the manufacturer operates). That is something for future growth that needs to be there because people really demand it for the future and that is an important factor we need to work on as an industry.

R: I couldn’t agree with you more. I definitely see that and that’s why I was so interested in what you’re doing. Can you tell us specially, in terms of the website and the business model, how you solved that problem?

M: I think Substrate Bank already solves that in transparency by bringing out this key information on manufacturers because not everyone knows who the manufacturer is behind a printed product. So, by bringing this information on one platform, printers and also designers, they can really learn who the manufacturers are. This becomes a reliable resource for professionals from different industries to look for materials.

R: Can you tell us the process when you have a new vendor or company that wants to join Substrate Bank? Tell us what the benefits are, or are there any risks being part of Substrate Bank and what that looks like when they are onboard?

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M: Yes, most brand partners that have already joined really want to increase their online presence and online brand awareness, so they join to let Substrate Bank become part of their online channel strategy. They want to be on social media, they want to be in tradeshows, they want to be in magazines, they want to be everywhere, so with Substrate Bank they also have a 365-day presence online when people look for materials apart from the important tradeshows we have within our industry. So that’s one of the benefits all year long, and of course if people look for materials and find them it’s an extra tool for lead generation. They can collect leads and contacts and then they can decide what to do with the leads. Most companies work with distributors, so if someone asks for a material in a certain region they can decide to send a lead to local distributors for follow up.

R: We talked about designers and specifiers but how and where can Substrate Bank help designers and specifiers learn about digital printing and interior décor?

M: I think already if you click on a material you can see project references of a material, so you can really see what a material can offer. There’s also a button where you can request information directly from the manufacturer and ask for a sample, so in that case you can collaborate with each other. If a designer wants a product to be printed on, the manufacturer can connect them with a printing company or a distributor.

R: In general the interior décor and design industry, especially here in the States, is so fragmented with so many different vertical markets, and then in printing there are so many substrates, products, and applications. So it really seems like this streamlines that and puts everything in one place and is easy to see. Is that essentially the purpose?

M: Yes, especially with the predefined searches you can really find materials fast for interior décor. For example, wallpapers; if you’re looking for a wallcovering that’s PVC free, in just a few clicks you can find a list of manufacturers that have your interests. That is what we want to bring to the market.

R: Thank you so much for your time, is there anything else you’d like to add?

M: Yes, I’d like to add that Substrate Bank is not focused on ecommerce. We are an independent platform where everyone is welcome.

R: Great, so if someone would like to be part of Substrate Bank how would they get a hold of you and what would be their next step?

M: I’d like to invite everyone that’s seeing or reading this to go to substratebank.com and have a look and if they want to connect, they can reach out through email at info@substratebank.com or fill out the contact form.

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Rachel Nunziata is a digital print business and market development specialist with an undeniable enthusiasm for interior and home décor segments. She is a graduate of Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota, Florida, and has a knack for enabling synergies between artists, interior designers, and industry experts. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter @RachelNunziata.

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