In January 2020, the owner of direct-to-consumer furniture brand Society Social Roxy Te Owens opened a stylish brick-and-mortar home furnishings store in Charlotte. Then the pandemic hit, and she faced steep rent bills on a showroom she couldn’t open to the public. Owens turned to Instagram for a solution, hosting a virtual sample sale by posting photos of products and selling them directly to users. In just 24 hours, Society Social sold 60 percent of its inventory and gained more than 2,000 new followers. “It was a lesson in the importance of social media and of growing a loyal brand following,” Owens tells host Dennis Scully on the latest episode of The Business of Home Podcast. “In some instances, that can carry you through hard times.”
Society Social began in 2011, when Owens left behind a corporate career to launch a brand dedicated to a playful, colorful take on traditional style. A North Carolina native who grew up in the hub of furniture manufacturing (and a regular attendee at High Point Market since childhood), Owens tapped her family network and supplier relationships to turn her idea into reality. Over the past decade, the brand has been growing at a steady clip—in recent years, the rise of “grandmillennial” style has given Society Social a boost by shining a spotlight on Owens’s signature aesthetic. “I feel like we finally got our place in the sun when House Beautiful wrote that article [in 2019 coining the term ‘grandmillennial’], and the header photo was our Monroe Tassel sofa,” says Owens. “We finally felt seen and heard.”
The line—full of tassel-trimmed sofas in pastel hues and bamboo-accented gold bar carts—is polished and upbeat, but there have been plenty of business struggles behind the scenes. Things got especially dicey during the peak of the pandemic, when supply chain shortages strained the company’s relationship with its vendors. Recently, Owens has taken pains to share more of those challenges with her followers—including her own struggles to find work-life balance. A business coach with a background in therapy has helped immensely, she says. So does being open about the messy reality of business ownership.
“I think there is a certain strength in sharing your story that is given to others but also comes back to you in such a beautiful way,” says Owens. “My team knows that you can’t be afraid to fail, and I’m not the type of leader who will make you feel like you shouldn’t take a risk because you’ll get in trouble.”
Elsewhere on the podcast, Owens discusses how not taking big investment dollars has been both good and bad for Society Social, putting home boom profits into revamping the brand’s website and the details of her new collaboration with The Colony Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida.
Homepage image: Roxy Te Owens | Courtesy of Society Social