Founded in 2012, Zeevtm Lighting has hired renowned talent in the industry and has an expanding sales force nationwide, but it’s still a brand many lighting stores don’t know much about — until now.
The Hebrew word ‘Zeev’ means ‘brilliance’ in a spiritual way; it also means ‘light,’ and one of things that I love most about lighting is how it can change your life and change your mood — these are not physical attributes, but spiritual qualities that light can help you achieve,” explains Pinny Krepell, COO of the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company founded three years ago.
Krepell became familiar with the lighting industry through his family’s store, which is considered to be the largest lighting showroom in Brooklyn. By watching relatives in the business over the past few decades, he grew aware of how consumer tastes have been shifting over time. Specifically he observed that each new generation seems to be moving away from traditional looks imported from Europe and more towards softer, contemporary styles. He was also discouraged to notice how many of the lighting fixtures on the market had begun to look the same.
Wishing to make his own mark in the industry on the manufacturing side, Krepell wanted to offer lighting that would look unique and “not off the shelf,” he says. “I wouldn’t be proud of going to China to knock off fixtures. I wanted to create a design-focused company that I could be proud to own.”
To that end, Krepell has partnered with talented lighting designers who are interested in pushing the artistic envelope. Among the noted designers on board are Carolina Lares (who has designed for Sea Gull, Quoizel, Kichler, and Golden Lighting, among others), Tracy Koziol (who has designed for Thomas Industries’ StylIcon fashion-forward division), Brett Curtain (who has created products for Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, and Neiman Marcus), Deborah Shavlik (an artist and industrial designer whose work under her DKS Studio has been carried by ABC Carpet & Home, Barneys New York, and the Guggenheim Museum), and the chief designer Alan Pepin (who has created products for brands such as Thomas O’Brien, Frank Lloyd Wright Gallery, Isabelle de Borchgrave, and Tracy Porter as well as for Marshall Fields and Target).
Helping Krepell with the administration and customer service departments for Zeev Lighting is Joe Belkevich, who had been with Feiss in New York for more than 30 years before the corporate parent company (Generation Brands) relocated to Illinois. In addition, Steve Joffre – another Feiss alum – has joined Zeev as National Sales Manager.
With such a formidable design and professional team in place, Krepell’s edict has been to offer lighting fixtures that will not only serve as statement pieces in a home or hospitality venue, but also not be priced out of the reach of most consumers. “Affordable luxury” is how he describes Zeev Lighting’s price points and value to the customer.
Zeev Lighting’s design approach has been embraced by chief designer Alan Pepin. “I’ve been a product designer since 1997 and I could not be more excited. This is a start-up company that’s laying the ground work for a great future,” he remarks.
Reaching a different demographic is another goal that Krepell feels is attainable with the design talent at Zeev. “Lighting can be an old-school industry, but I wanted to have products that appeal to younger customers — not the 20-somethings per se, but those in their 30s and 40s who want something a bit more [cutting edge] than their parents had.”
Pepin has a lot of experience in capturing that spirit when he worked with Target. “Target really leveraged itself as being able to interpret trends in a way that appealed to a larger audience,” he notes.
“When Pinny showed me what some of the classic chandelier silhouettes look like [in the market], I felt what was missing is the opportunity to refresh and reinvent the material of crystal. There is so much happening today in home furnishings that the ability of a small company to react to trends is exciting,” he says. “There is a challenge in bringing a classic material forward to a younger audience. There are all sorts of wonderful things you can do with crystal; it’s an art piece.”
In his conversations with custom home builders and architects in Florida where he lives, Pepin has learned both groups are looking for “spectacular pieces that set them apart and take their homes to the next level,” he notes. “Our goal is not to please everyone; we’re focusing on a younger market and people who appreciate quality materials and finishes that complement the appliance and hardware finishes they already have in their home. It’s about architectural placement.”
Krepell agrees that the retailers who came into Zeev Lighting’s Dallas Market Center showroom – which debuted at the summer 2014 market – were ordering the attention-grabbing fixtures. “People were impressed with, and intrigued by, where we are going with the line,” he comments. Adds Pepin, “It was evident that our presentation was a sprout of a design-focused company.”
While the company offers a variety of looks, Krepell was careful to unroll the collections out slowly. “We didn’t want it to look like we’re all over the place in regard to style,” he says. “For example, I don’t see in five years from now being solely considered a crystal company.”
There is sales representation through North America and in addition to the Brooklyn headquarters, there is an additional warehouse in Lakewood, N.J., to help expedite orders. “Our shipping is pretty quick,” Krepell states.
At this month’s International Lighting Market in Dallas, there will be a broader assortment of styles than had been shown at the two prior markets. One thing Krepell and Pepin do not want to have in their showroom are the same type of designs everyone else has.
“Everyone can chase new finishes all they want, and if everyone is doing that then we won’t stand out,” Pepin quips. “We’ve also been looking at classic fixture designs from 100 years ago and trying to imagine doing something different with them,” he adds.