When Anna and Gregg Brockway launched vintage and antique furniture e-marketplace Chairish, people told them consumers would never buy furniture online. Six years and roughly $30 million in funding later, the platform and its limited-editions sister site DECASO receive more than 2,000 new items listed daily from a community of 10,000 sellers.
Husband-and-wife co-founders Anna (a former fashion marketing executive) and Gregg (former co-founder of Hotwire and TripIt) Brockway launched Chairish from their dining room table in 2013. Though the site was ostensibly an online resource for vintage furniture, it had deep tech roots thanks to the duo’s backgrounds in brand building. In 2016, the Chairish team debuted DECASO (short for Decorative Arts Society), which applied the Chairish ethos and tech platform to vetted antiques dealers. Even then, the goal was to simplify the shopping experience, creating a curated platform for designers and consumers.
Upholding principles of quality and style in its curation has proven to be one of the platform’s biggest competitive advantages—despite having to turn away interested sellers. “Building a business is about finding a balance between what you want to do and what makes business sense,” says Gregg. “What’s nice about working in the home space is that it is so big and you can afford to pick and choose. We can be more choosy and have a point of view with Chairish—and with DECASO even more so.”
While the company may hold a share in the antiques and vintage marketplace, one fact stands: Less than 10 percent of all furniture purchases are made online. Yet brand websites and social channels have become a go-to research tool for consumers, and the preference for purchasing, Gregg predicts, is not far behind.
“There is a whole up-and-coming generation that frankly can’t fathom buying anything any other way than online, and so part of what we view our mission as is to help the industry find appropriate ways to transition online, because this digitization of design is like gravity. It is, in our belief, inevitable—it’s happening for better or for worse. If you believe that it’s inevitable, then you can start to plan for it, build tools for it, and help parts of the community that want to move in that direction.”
For Chairish and DECASO, digitizing design begins with creating a seamless user experience—one that caters to one-stop shopping thanks to a robust product offering, as proven by parent company Chairish Inc.’s acquisition of Dering Hall last week. The move positions the company as one of the largest digital platforms for high-end home products in the country, with nearly half a million items between Chairish, DECASO and Dering Hall, and brings tremendous opportunities for growth in the contemporary category. The combined reach of the three platforms totals 2.5 million monthly visitors and a community of more than 20,000 verified design professionals, who will be able to shop the network’s 450,000 products.
“What really made sense about this acquisition for us was an opportunity to bring a new marketplace to life on the site,” says Gregg. “One that’s built around discovery for new and contemporary product, because we’ve been so dedicated and focused over the past six years on one-of-a-kind and antique and vintage, but we all know that when you go into someone’s space or when you’re a designer working, the palette is much bigger. This was an opportunity for us to add that whole category of contemporary and newly made pieces into our network.”
In this week’s episode of the Business of Home podcast, the Silicon Valley–steeped Chairish co-founders share their vision for a more transactable design world, the strategy behind the recent Dering Hall acquisition, and how their passion for antiques and vintage led them to launch their online platform for home furnishings.
Correction: January 22, 2019
An earlier version of this story misstated Chairish, Inc.'s size relative to its competitors following the acquisition of Dering Hall.