Will Wick, Jay Jeffers, Michael Taylor Designs, Oly, Angela Free and Hillary Thomas are just some of the designers whose collections Viyet is debuting in San Francisco this month. In addition to pieces by renowned designers, the site, which is known for selling and consigning designer furniture, now has concierge teams in New York, Dallas and Los Angeles, with plans for additional markets in 2016.
Viyet has partnered with top designers such as Bunny Williams, Michael S. Smith, Celerie Kemble, Michelle Nussbaumer and Jan Showers to offer edited collections and provide designers, showrooms and brands like Holly Hunt, Baker, Donghia, and Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman with an e-commerce platform.
Viyet CEO Elizabeth Brown chatted with EAL about the expansion, and what’s to come:
How does Viyet determine where to expand?
When we first started to think seriously about expanding Viyet’s consignment locations in early 2015, our decision to launch Los Angeles as our second market was an easy one. Los Angeles was already our second-largest buyer base after New York, so we knew that there was a healthy supply of quality furnishings, and we were receiving weekly inquiries from our designer clients there, asking when we would bring our consignment services to the West Coast.
After launching Los Angeles, we adopted a strategic framework to evaluate the other regions where we thought the Viyet business model would make sense. First and most importantly, we want to make sure that there is a large number of registered interior designers working in the vicinity. We have found that designer communities are close-knit groups that are excited to support our business because we solve a big pain point for them—namely, what to do with a client’s old furniture without offending them or compromising the designer’s own sensibilities.
Beyond designers, we like to see that there is a larger ecosystem supporting the design community. We want to make sure that there is a sizable design center with plenty of showrooms that will take advantage of the opportunity to consign floor samples and partner with us to host industry events. We also look for areas with a dynamic cluster of design businesses, such as the Dallas Design District and San Francisco’s Sacramento Street.
What other locations are on the horizon for 2016?
Our first market hub was New York, and then we expanded with on-the-ground curator teams in Los Angeles, Dallas and San Francisco (launched February 4), and are now looking to Chicago, Miami, West Palm and Atlanta in 2016. While we are limiting our supply to these key design regions for now, we ship all over the United States, with buyers as far-flung as Alaska.
Which SF-designer-created pieces or collections are you most excited about?
We are honored to be working with some of San Francisco’s most respected designers. We are especially excited to be partnering with Jay Jeffers, who has consigned a number of gorgeous pieces from his own personal inventory to support our launch, such as a stunning zebrawood desk.
In addition to Jay, we will showcase a slew of Bay Area design-world heavyweights, including Will Wick, Chloe Redmond Warner, Kendall Wilkinson, Angela Free and Hillary Thomas, as well as one-of-a-kind pieces from the city’s most beloved design destinations and brands, including Michael Taylor Collection and Oly.
What has the response been so far?
We are thrilled with the response. Much like Los Angeles, we are fortunate that we already had a large base of loyal buyers in San Francisco, so we were able to tap into an established network of interior designers and design enthusiasts who were happy to help get the word out. With so much happening in the San Francisco design community, there was a clearly a need for a higher-end, hassle-free consignment solution, and we are thrilled to have filled that opening in the market. We now have three curators on the ground in San Francisco, and are looking to expand the team to keep up with the flood of listing inquiries since announcing our launch.
More than anything, expanding to new cities has only reinforced our view that people want to feel good about investing in furnishings, knowing they will be able to recover some of that investment down the line, and that good design and quality craftsmanship can last over decades and multiple owners. As with a Chanel handbag, a Christian Liaigre sofa maintains its value over time beyond its first (or even second) owner.
With Viyet, we make it easy to recoup this value ahead of a move or redesign. The Viyet concierge team handles the entire selling process, from in-person assessments to photography, pickup, storage and delivery. We evaluate each item in person, providing a critical trust factor that has made so many people (interior designers in particular—who now comprise approximately 40 percent of Viyet buyers) hesitant to purchase furniture online. Our model has enabled us to attract the best-quality supply, which in turn, brings us the most discerning buyers. And these customers are coming back. More than a third of our customers return to make a second purchase, and are buying an average of four items a year from Viyet.
With the influx of fast and affordable design at the cost of quality, there remains a desire for unique, beautifully crafted pieces. At the same time, consumers are now conditioned to look for deals and don’t want to wait the five to six months it can take to have a custom sofa delivered. This is the crux of what makes Viyet so compelling to the new design buyer—we offer a large yet curated selection of brands from the top end of the design spectrum, for 40 to 80 percent below retail, available immediately.