Interview with Kim
Could you tell us a little bit more about yourself and what made you start the business?
I was brought up in central New York where there is a strong connection to furniture design through Amish furniture makers. Many years later I was working in the financial services industry in London but wanted a more creative lifestyle. I've always loved interiors and design. My goal was to develop contemporary furniture designs that were made from strong, authentic materials, using traditional techniques. Furniture should last generations!
What inspires your work?
I've always enjoyed creating very personal interiors both for myself and also encouraging my customers to opt for things that make them happy rather than copying other styles. So that's at the heart of what we sell - lots of custom options that reflect your personality. It's very rewarding when customers send us photos showing us their furniture in colours/combinations that they might not otherwise have selected.
But in 2006 we decided to try to be pioneers on environmental issues and really haven't looked back since then. We read Felicity Lawrence's book "Not on the Label" about the food industry, and thought that the furniture industry too should be much more responsible and transparent. So we went about learning as much as we could and talked to Greenpeace (their offices were around the corner) about timber because much of what we made was from wood.
We launched our own Environmental Grading Label and were lucky enough to win some sustainability awards, including a Guardian Sustainable Business of the Year award. Responsibility has always been a big part of our business and climate change issues have brought even more challenges for all of us. In the beginning, we concentrated to a large degree on the sustainability of materials, who made the products and where they were made. I think now issues of packaging and transportation have come much more to the fore.
What is the most important thing for you in your business?
The most important thing is having a great product, a great team that can deliver that product and to do so in a manner that makes us proud business citizens!
A little story or an anecdote you would like to share?
I often wonder, how many arguments, declarations of love, scrappy bits of homework, board games, art projects and delicious meals have taken place on our dining tables over the years?! I wish we had a list of them all and could map them. It makes our furniture personal!
Also, a couple of years ago I overheard a customer at one of our exhibitions enthusiastically exclaim "I know this brand - I love them!" I hadn't ever really thought of our business as a brand, and I still don't really. But I guess we have strong values that connect with people. We are an independent business that aims to offer responsibly produced furniture that people can love for a long time. We are proudly anti-fast furniture and thankfully our designs resonate with a huge group of people who feel the same way.