podcast | Feb 26, 2024 |
‘It’s hard to have scale and cachet at the same time,’ says The Future Perfect’s David Alhadeff

In the late 1990s, at age 24, David Alhadeff and a friend started an e-commerce website that sold fashion accessories for girls, and it ended up becoming the AOL shopping channel for teens. When the business crashed in 1999, Alhadeff faced a choice: Pivot to another corner of the tech industry, or return to one of his original passions. “I remembered that deep in my heart, in the crags and corners, I am really moved by the beauty of design,” he tells host Dennis Scully on the latest episode of The Business of Home Podcast.

Alhadeff moved to New York and noticed a community of Brooklyn-based artists and makers that weren’t getting the recognition they deserved. In response, he founded The Future Perfect, a contemporary gallery showcasing Brooklyn-made creations, in 2003. Though he didn’t realize it at the time, the notion of celebrating American-made design was going against the grain of the broader industry’s focus on European, and specifically Italian, works. Now, two decades later, The Future Perfect works with an international array of artists and clientele, and it has grown to include a showroom in San Francisco and residential galleries in New York and Los Angeles, both of which offer site-specific collections—another idea of his that bucked convention.

“Anytime that one is a risk-taker in their business, they have to maintain a bit of a defensive posture to somehow explain why or where they are,” says Alhadeff. “When you ask about growth for the company, it’s very hard for me to tell you what’s next because what’s next is going to be another risk-taking thing that I could never plan for but can only feel.” Elsewhere in the episode, he shares the ups and downs of running a founder-led small business and talks about price transparency in the industry and why scale and cachet don’t always go together.

Crucial insight: Alhadeff has a message for small-business owners navigating the balance between personal and professional goals. Amid a 2013 expansion, he wanted to move to Los Angeles and open up a location there, but he wasn’t sure if that was the right step for the company. “You’ve opened up this business. You’ve done this thing. You’ve had it now 10 years, 12 years even, and you want to make a shift for yourself personally, but it doesn’t align with your business. So what do you do?” he says. “What I did is I just hung on and stayed patient.” He ended up waiting three more years, only making the move when he felt the market opportunity in the city aligned with The Future Perfect’s needs. His patience paid off.

Key quote: “The work that defines itself as being important is for the future to tell us—it’s not entirely about what is limited edition or one of a kind,” he says. “That kind of explains a bit of our curatorial ethos, which routes itself in contemporary design across studios, boutique manufacturers and artists.”

Listen to the show below. If you like what you hear, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. This episode is sponsored by Minted.

The Thursday Show

BOH executive editor Fred Nicolaus joins host Dennis Scully to go over the biggest news in the industry, including the launch of Fred Segal Home, a look at the chaotic landscape of online photo theft, and why “unexpected red” has gone viral on social media. Later, Havenly CEO Lee Mayer discusses her purchase of The Citizenry and her plans to build a millennial-focused house of brands.

Listen to the show below. If you like what you hear, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. This episode is sponsored by Loloi.

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