Shipping: Manufacturing in the U.S. allows us to offer things like same-day shipping. If we were to outsource, the product would spend at least six to eight weeks on water. When you think about the footprint of shipping a large, heavy product like a sofa across the world, the wasted cost and the environmental impact are immense.
Tariffs: Policies that are meant to protect manufacturing can sometimes be detrimental. Before our bed frames are built in Virginia, we have to import a particular kind of birch that is difficult to source in the States. Even though the difference isn’t huge, the tariffs that were recently implemented did impact how we have to price our product.
Crowdfunding: We launched on Kickstarter, so we were immediately accountable to our backers. Later, when we decided to design a sofa, we sent out a survey to our customer base and received 1,400 responses in the first 24 hours. We were able to integrate a lot of insights about what people wanted in terms of comfort, material, and color into that design.
Small Business: When you build something from scratch, there’s this weird moment when you realize, if I walk away, this would just be gone—it would be like dust. Until you reach a certain scale and there is significant equity and several partners, a business is actually very ephemeral.
Competition: All the retail is going to Amazon, so manufacturing is one of the few opportunities left to create something. In the past, everyone used to think they had to compete with IKEA. In the end, there’s no point. The best thing to do is just to find your own market.
Knockoffs: You want to be bitter about it, but to go after anybody takes an incredible amount of effort. In the end, you’ll spend more time dealing with legal issues than making. For me, the reason I got into this industry was not to spend my time in court, but to come up with new ideas.