Dennis Scully: From our headquarters in New York City this is Business of Home. I'm your host Dennis Scully. Every week I'll be talking to leaders and innovators from all corners of the home industry. I hope you'll join me.
Dennis Scully: We'd like to thank our friends at Fuigo for sponsoring this episode. In case you're unfamiliar or have been living under a coffee table. Hey, we don't blame you. Fuigo is the industry's most comprehensive project management software for design professionals. Meticulously developed alongside designers like you, Fuigo is tailored to the way you work and built to foster your success. Learn more at Fuigo.com. That's F-U-I-G-O.com. And now on with the show.
Dennis: My guests this week are Anne and Jordan England. They are the founders of Industry West, a hip contemporary online furniture company that literally launched from their dining room table. In fact the search for the perfect dining chairs is how the business got started. Welcome to you both.
Jordan: Thanks for having us.
Anne: Thank you, honor to be here.
Dennis: Thank you very much. Neither of you had a background in this, right, and your background in school was Theology.
Anne: My undergrad's in religion, I did a masters in Theological studies at Emory. I'm a preacher's kid, so I grew up in that culture.
Dennis: Got it.
Anne: I'm ordained, and mostly children and youth is what I've worked with in combinations. I've worked in two churches, and yeah, I loved it. It's been fun and it's very different than-
Dennis: Very different than online furniture.
Anne: Totally. I'm good with people, I think that has enabled me to do that better because of my degrees, but I don't know.
Dennis: Okay, and your background in school was political science history.
Jordan: History and political science. I wasn't sure what I was gonna do with that.
Dennis: Still not sure I take it.
Jordan: Still not sure.
Jordan: It was apparently what I needed to prepare to be doing what I'm doing now. I guess going back, I spoke at a group couple years ago about what I'm doing now and I remember thinking about how many jobs I'd had up to this point. I think it was something around like 35 from parking rental bikes at Hilton Head to real estate, bartending.
Jordan: I kind of never really realized that I've kind of been very entrepreneurial in nature until you know being entrepreneurial is kind of in vogue the last 10 years, and there's educational programs built around this skillset. But I think a lot of people either have it or they don't. A lot of it has to do with risk aversion and things like that, but yeah history poli sci was what I spent my time doing for a few years at Emory.
Dennis: Okay, so ultimately you got into the real estate industry, yes?
Jordan: Yes. 2003 had some friends that were working up in Cashiers North Carolina for developers and needed to come up here, and in a couple years maybe they'll pay off your student loans. I said, that sounds good. I was thinking about going to law school, didn't really know what I was gonna do. So I went up there, was pretty successful with that for a couple of years and then obviously that kind of changed a little bit in 2007, 2008.
Dennis: Right, so the financial crisis comes along and what happens for you?
Jordan: For me it was kind of where can I get a job supporting Anne and myself and keeping a roof over our head really. I went from making quite a bit of money around the college to, I'm trying not to have my car repossessed type thing.
Dennis: Right, okay.
Jordan: Which was a lot of our folks in our industry were in that position.
Jordan: So I took a job at Economic Development actually, South Carolina, Beaver County, Jasper County, and was doing that for about a year. In the meantime, Anne and I had always had a ... you know who doesn't love to pick up a Elle Décor or House Beautiful [inaudible 00:03:34] magazine, which I'm not that was around then. But and just dream about what you could make your space look like, what you could make your home look like, where do people get the money to do this or how can we ever afford this monastery dining table or whatever it was.
Jordan: So around 2008, we started looking for some furniture for our house, and we really liked some of the industrial designs we were seeing popping up in some of the magazines. I was like man, that's just a lot of money for that product. Where can we figure out a way to make something similar and have a factory produce something. So we started reaching out to some factories overseas-
Dennis: So you were looking in magazines, and you saw images of industrial furniture, right, that you liked.
Dennis: And then you went to sort of find out how much it was for the pieces that you liked, and it was sort of out of your price range.
Jordan: Right, pretty much.
Anne: Yeah, I mean I was full-time in a church working, money's not huge. He was working, basically the local government, not a huge income, so yeah, I budget.
Dennis: Yeah, yeah, so then take me to making the leap of somehow going online and finding resources that were making furniture overseas.
Jordan: So I had no idea really, like accidental.
Dennis: Why would you?
Jordan: Exactly. So we started reaching out to, I just went out on Ali Baba actually and started reaching out to several factories saying, hey, here's some styles, this is a little rotating industrial stool, pretty basic design, is this something that you could manufacture, what would it cost. You know, we're thinking about starting up a business.
Jordan: So it's hard to weed through that because you don't really know who to trust and-
Jordan: But I ended up striking it up with a young individual in China who had just purchased a factory from a man he'd been working for for a long time, and we ended up just kind of hitting it off online. Literally took 288 dollars and had four pieces of furniture manufactured, and had it shipped over, put it up on eBay, and somebody here with the zip code 10001 purchased it for way more than what we had paid. I thought, well that's interesting.
Dennis: So you put it up on eBay to sort of see if there was a market for the things that you liked, is that-
Anne: It was as simple as, these are really cool chairs, I bet other people would pay for these really cool chairs that are not outrageously priced, like let's see.
Jordan: This is 2009, so a lot of people talk about when an industry hits 20% market penetration is when you kind of have, things kind of falling into place or companies weeded out. There was really nobody doing pure play e-commerce in furniture, or if they were, I didn't know of them at that time. Maybe some big box companies were kind of getting into developing the e-commerce chAnneel, but not a lot of companies were saying, we're only online. That's all we're doing at this point. So-
Dennis: So you thought this was an opportunity?
Jordan: I did, why do we need a storefront.
Dennis: And had you designed these chairs that you liked, or were they sort of interpretations of things you'd seen.
Jordan: They were just some things we'd seen. Some of them were old designs. There's one and actually a colleague within Japan from the 30s and said nobody makes these anymore, can we do something like this. So we started producing that product. It's a very intricate industrial chair with a seat pattern in it, you know we thought it was really cool.
Jordan: So it was kind of all that. You know, as a lot of furniture is, we liked this style of chair, can we do it with a little bit of a different molded back, or how to bar and turn into a bar stool, that type of a thing.
Jordan: So there's a lot of that kind of reinterpreting things and changing things to reflect maybe new colors, new silhouettes that are similar to others, but unique.
Dennis: Okay. So you put a set of chairs up on eBay, it sold for much more money than you had bought it for, and you thought, okay, there's a market for this. So then what?
Jordan: So then we hired a young man from Beaufort, where we were living, to build a website for us. We took some pictures in our yard of a couple products. We=
Anne: Had boxes of chairs literally in our living room. We had a shed out back that we had to put boxes in the shed, finally rented a small storage unit in Beaufort. I mean it was literally like printing out labels on our printer at home. I don't know it was crazy but fun, I don't know.
Jordan: I think we had no idea kind of, I remember sitting there thinking like, well if we could sell 26 of these, we could then purchase 50, if we could sell 50 of those, we could purchase 100 and then make an investment in this stool because I think people really like this and we should do that.
Jordan: So it was a lot of this what if, I think as opposed to now, you know we have our other businesses that we're involved in and it's much more structured. So, but I think when you're starting out and I mean we were living on a very limited budget.
Jordan: You know when you're playing with your own money, there's a lot more at stake. So it was kind of like, we're gonna make this successful. We're gonna figure out how to make it work. From the early days it was, when we first launched our website, we had our first online order, it was like, wow, like trying to figure out-
Anne: We got really excited.
Jordan: Google AdWords and analytics 10 years ago was ... it's changed a lot, like it was very like wow, this could maybe be a real business, a real company.
Dennis: So this is 2010?
Dennis: 2009, okay, so it's before Instagram.
Jordan: Before Instagram, right.
Dennis: Okay, so you were using as you say, you were using Google AdWords to draw people to this site and you were bringing some furniture in from China originally, that's where your main source was originally.
Jordan: Our first factory was in China. We went over there to visit them in 2009, it was really interesting I think. A lot of things from the beginning we decided, first off, we're gonna get off the eBay platform, I didn't really believe in that for what I wanted to do.
Jordan: Then coming up with a brand, with an identity, and then, for us too, it was really important to know our factories [crosstalk 00:09:16]
Dennis: To have relationships with people.
Jordan: To have a relationship with them, to understand, 'cause we were still like this ... now it's Ali Express, you can go on and order things online, there's a lot more transparency. But back then it was a little bit more, not really sure what I'm getting into. So I really wAnnea understand what this is about.
Jordan: I think that's a part of our DNA is of the company and us as people certainly wanting to have transparency when it comes to the places where we're working, the factories we're operating in. A lot of companies now are branding themselves around that, around the site of irradical transparency, and I think that's been part of what we've been about since day one.
Anne: We've just been doing it.
Jordan: So, yeah I mean conducting thorough audits, and making sure we know who we're doing business with.
Dennis: So at what point did you know, this is really a business, we really have something here?
Jordan: I think one of the bells went off or the light bulbs went off, I think light bulbs go off, not bells, they both go off maybe. But-
Dennis: Bells ringing, light bulbs are going on.
Jordan: We take a phone call, and you know a lot of companies are talking about you faking it till you make it. It was a restaurateur, he said, hey I really like these bar stools I found on this website, I'm opening a gourmet burger shop in Pittsburgh, and I need 120 of those. I'm looking out at my shed and I'm thinking, we have three. I said how much time you have, he said I have 12 weeks, so I said, we'll make it happen.
Jordan: So then it became about managing, at that point you were like, okay, well how many more restaurateurs like this are there out there, and apparently there're quite a few. So that was when I was like, we really wAnnea make sure we have this operation a little bit more scalable and make sure that we can satisfy that kind of demand. Because when it started coming, it was substantial.
Dennis: So that first big order showed you what it could be, and if there were more customers like this restaurant that wanted a real quantity that you needed to get the inventory and everything else to go along with it.
Jordan: Exactly, and we didn't have a lot of capital to work with. So there's a lot of managing the work capital we had with the suppliers and making-
Dennis: So let's talk about that for a moment. So you've been very deliberate about not taking on venture capital, right. You guys still own 100% of the business I understand.
Jordan: Oh yes, we do.
Anne: We do.
Dennis: Between yourselves?
Anne: Between us.
Dennis: Yes, so tell me about that decision to not sort of bring, the moment you realized you needed to scale up a bit, did you have to go to family and borrow some money or did you call on the church to help or-
Jordan: Well I always try to keep the church and business interestingly because of the model of cutting the middle person out. We did have really and still have to this day have really strong margins. So we were able to get really decent cash flow operating the company in a very lean way.
Jordan: So we've been in business now nine years, maybe a little longer, and if you think about like the growth of 50 and 75 percent a year every year, we've just been able to figure out a way to use our own cash flow to manage the growth.
Jordan: I think if we were going back, would we have been interested in venture capital or some type of investment, be it angel or whatever method, maybe would have changed things a bit. But, as we like to say, we kind of answer to our kids, as opposed to VCs or private equity that's the way our lifestyle is. But we probably would have opened up studios in metropolitan locations closer to our customer base earlier.
Jordan: We would've invested different lines, you know that's certainly something where we're always finding things we wAnnea develop or investments we wAnnea make in different attractive categories. Without unlimited resources, there's only so much you can do. But it really helps us to focus in more on what we know is going to be successful.
Jordan: I mean we're very much a data driven company, and we make decisions exclusively on that, no matter what ... there's still a little bit of feel and gut that goes into we think this is gonna be a huge product line, but we have to test it first. Otherwise, it wouldn't be worth doing, so it's not worth doing.
Dennis: So you're very data driven, and you're very disciplined, you try the be disciplined, okay, right? You're bootstrapping the operation, you're cutting back at home it sounds like right.
Dennis: To sort of get this going and is the first step sort of taking on some inventory, what was sort of the first major step that you took to sort of move towards the business that you have today?
Jordan: We're an inventory business. So we do hold inventory, we have a large D.C. in Jacksonville and one in Los Angeles. So it was taking on the inventory, but I think also it was really trying to create guidelines around the brand the way we saw it evolving, the way we saw the identity early on.
Jordan: The digital content we create, the photography, we were very big on investing in high quality around those assets. We said if we're gonna be a digital first company, ten years ago, it has to look beautiful, it has to be amazing, it has to you know reflect the beauty of the products themselves.
Jordan: So I think a couple of those things early was a decision, yes be an inventory based business, but also to invest in making things beautiful and the site is one of them. The other part of that that was challenging early on, that we figured out a way to kind of work around was going to, first time we went to Maison et Objet and Salon A in Milan and trying to talk to these vendors about. You know we'd find these little jewels of these factories based in Serbia that were based or designed in Belgium, and trying to get them to understand, hey-
Jordan: The first question was like, well where are your stores? Well, we don't have a store. Well how do you sell? Well, we sell on the internet. Well, how else? Well, that's actually it, and that kind of that older mentality of, we got a lot of no's about trying to ... 'cause our business is both our own designs, my label product, and it's also trying to curate unique brands that are not discovered in the United States yet and bring them here early and help give those brands support and get some name recognition out there.
Dennis: But in the beginning, an internet only company-
Jordan: They did not wAnnea have anything to do with us.
Anne: Got a lot of strange looks, just kind of puzzled.
Jordan: Did not want anything to do with us. But we were able to land a couple early, and we said we will take really good care of you. We will promote your name, we will protect your brand, and you will see results, I promise.
Jordan: And we did, and so that in turn allowed us to really bring on quite a few more over the years. Now it's when we travel and when we talk to people. Not everybody is familiar with the brand, but a lot of factories and companies overseas will, they come to us and they really want us to work with them and to represent their brand.
Dennis: So now they're coming to you. Now the business is established enough. So earlier you were saying, remarkably, that the business was growing 50, 75 percent a year, right? So I mean has that been the case for you since 2010, 2011?
Jordan: We set Anneual goals as an organization, and a lot of those are based on previous year's growth. You know with going back to not really understanding what things could become. I remember when we first did, say a million dollars in sales in a year or whatever. I thought okay, can you gross 70% on that, or can you ... so I refused to believe that we can't because as we've gotten larger, we've still been able to grow the same level.
Jordan: So we have to change things and develop new chAnneels and bring new product lines in and become a little more disciplined. But, yeah, we've been able to continue to scale at the same level.
Dennis: At that same rate. We're gonna take a quick break for a word from our sponsor, but we'll be right back.
Dennis: To stand out in this crowded industry, you need more than a love of design, you need strategy, sales, marketing and other things they don't teach you in design school. This episode is brought to you by Fuigo, whose mission is to empower the design trade. Fuigo believes that business and art can and must co-exist, and they've built a platform to make that happen.
Dennis: Learn more at Fuigo.com, and now, back to the show.
Dennis: So the business started as a consumer facing brand, but remarkably it's become much more of a contract driven business right? I think I've heard you say 70, 75 percent of the business, right, would you say?
Jordan: That's about right. It's always hard to tell.
Dennis: Right. So how did that happen, how did the contract business become such a huge part of the business?
Jordan: We developed the site as a direct to consumer site, and I didn't know, even though I said earlier about someone calling up and wanting a large order for a restaurant. But it really was about making a beautiful website, showcasing beautiful products, and making them available for purchase.
Jordan: To this day, a lot of B2B sites are, you gotta inquire about lead time and availability, and ours is literally like you go on, you purchase it. If you sign on for the trade program, you get your discount and you go on and you purchase it and it shows up in seven to 10 days.
Jordan: So that, we never really want to differentiate too much, but it seems to be that it's the same customer. Like people that wAnnea purchase something for their, specifiers for a hotel, I mean we get every day people emailing hey, I just worked on a project in Toronto, and we specified this sofa, what's my discount for my house, 'cause I'd like the same sofa.
Jordan: So it's kind of whereas we know because we track things pretty closely that 70% of these things are going into businesses, it's the same customer that's purchasing things for their own home or their own personal use.
Dennis: Interesting, so you made the site just look appealing, and it turns out it's appealing on a broad spectrum to professionals and individuals alike.
Jordan: So far, yeah.
Anne: So far, yes.
Dennis: So far.
Jordan: And we try to, we built tools recently in the last year around product development and tools for the trade to kind of use and track their own projects, and they've been utilized in a pretty big way. So we're constantly trying to build things out like that. But yeah, it's a similar customer.
Dennis: So, today and we should point out that you have worked on offices for a lot of start-up companies, and a lot of big tech companies, right. I mean it sounds like a lot of the big silicon valley companies have a lot of Industry West furniture.
Jordan: So yeah, we do a lot. We're really big with the start-up community. We've got a great network of interior designers, specifier, architects, that we can continue to do projects with. We do a lot, our biggest markets are New York City, California, major metro markets, I mean Chicago, Dallas, Austin, we do a lot of projects in those areas.
Jordan: But yeah, so Google, Facebook, [crosstalk 00:19:59] any of this, it's across the board. We've done projects here, and every time I come into New York, I think about doing a project with the Yankees and-
Dennis: The New York Yankees, that's right.
Dennis: A big one.
Jordan: That's a big one, we like that. That was pretty cool when that came together.
Dennis: Yes, well so and I loved the story of you sort of keeping track of the big companies. I think I heard you saying you use slack, right, and on your slack you were sort of checking on big organizations that you got orders from early.
Anne: We have a chAnneel called the List, and if there's a big order that comes through from somebody that's just amazing, that makes the List. So the whole office sees that.
Jordan: Yesterday it was really interesting to see like Trevor Noah, like that's a cool one.
Dennis: Really, Trevor Noah of The Daily Show, sure.
Jordan: That's right, you know all kinds of places. You know, some of them are really exciting, some of them, I'm like I've never heard of these places. Someone from our staff will be, you've never heard of that.
Anne: Yeah, then we feel a little [inaudible 00:20:56].
Dennis: Did I hear Nancy Pelosi's office ordered some furniture.
Jordan: Yes, ordered some sofas from one of our private collections, which is that area seems to be growing the fastest, and we're putting most of our resources into that.
Jordan: So the trick or the interesting thing about a lot of that work was talking about what you're learning on the go early on. Having people call up and this is like year one you know, what's the Martindale account on that-
Dennis: Martindale, right.
Jordan: Is this a test, I'm like, can you repeat that again. How do you spell this one. But then it was about if we were gonna be selling this product and producing this product for Hyatt or Google, we have to figure out how to bitma test it.
Jordan: And there's a lot of investment around that-
Dennis: Very serious.
Jordan: And we have to ... you know these are real things we had to educate ourselves on. You know without the formal interior design background, we really quickly took a crash course and doing that, and there's some adjustments made along the way where things get tested and we're pleased with how they hold up.
Jordan: I see a lot of furniture that's been out in the wild for the last seven or eight years and I'm always pleased when I can say, that's from us. It's still holding up pretty well.
Dennis: It's holding up pretty well, yeah.
Jordan: It's holding up pretty well because the contract environment can be brutal.
Dennis: And does that all just find you, or at this point do you have a team that's out calling on these different-
Jordan: No I mean the model is generating inbound, so it's advertising digitally and creating chAnneels to generate inbound leads, and I have a great sales team and staff that works that and manages that. But it's also, at the end of the day, it's about taking care of our customers. If it's somebody from a major design firm or architecture firm and they come to us, like we really wAnnea take good care of them, and follow-up to make sure we can do whatever we can for them in the future, and work with us on other projects.
Jordan: We do a lot of customization. We do a lot of com work, we do a lot of custom powder coating, and what we'll even, if the numbers are right, we'll manufacture a custom piece at scale, 'cause we're doing such a volume in some of our factories now that we're able to do that. That's opened up a whole new market of really large scale contract projects. Especially, not just in the states, I mean globally, we're doing good in the Middle East now, Mexico, Canada, we've been pretty heavy in for the last few years as well.
Dennis: Interesting, okay, and so were you marketing to those areas or that sort of just came to you.
Jordan: We did some marketing in Canada, all online of course.
Jordan: But to be honest, some of the stuff internationally, I don't know how that comes in, it just does.
Dennis: Okay, so let's talk about customer acquisition costs right. Because that's one of the most difficult parts or certainly the most costly parts of having an online only business.
Jordan: Sure, and I think people to this day still think, so easy I'll just put it up on a website and people will come in.
Anne: People will come in.
Dennis: Magically, people will find you.
Jordan: It did feel that way, very early on, it did feel that way.
Dennis: Right, because you had that luck in the beginning, right?
Jordan: Yeah, I had the luck in the beginning, a lot of it is right place, right time. I think half of being a successful entrepreneur is getting lucky. I mean most people will tell you that. The costs have certainly gotten driven up by the major players out there.
Jordan: You know, the big names that we all know, Amazons and Wayfairs and they're doing really amazing things, but the cost to acquire a customer now is ten-fold what it was a few years ago.
Dennis: Well, and I mean so you mentioned Wayfair for example and they're still not profitable, despite massive growth and how they've scaled their business. Now they'll tell you that, oh really we're profitable in the U.S., but it's our overseas that we're spending money on, and rightly so, they're making investments and I get that. You chose to again, bootstrap the business and you wanted to be profitable, right. Are you profitable still?
Jordan: Right, so we've been profitable from day one.
Jordan: And we continue to be and we try to maintain a minimum level of profitability that's acceptable to the organization. But, I think had we had taken on other investments, there would have had to create a clear path for growth to a certain point for those partners to possibly exit, and we just, we like keeping it close and keeping it, like I said, profitable, and we're not shy to make big investments in both capital expenditures and people.
Jordan: But yeah, profitability is a big part of the DNA of the company. I know growth is kind of the new profitability, so to speak, in a lot of industries, but for us, we kind of believe that it's as important as growth.
Dennis: So you somehow managed the cost aspects of this customer acquisition sinkhole, right.
Dennis: Which is really what it is, I mean the money can just fly out, right. Now, actually later this very day, you're gonna sign a lease on a New York City space, right.
Jordan: Right, so we're really excited about that.
Dennis: Right, so today's gonna be your first physical presence.
Jordan: It will, and I mean how many years have we been talking about doing that?
Anne: Oh my gosh, like several years, like couple years, mean just-[crosstalk 00:25:43]
Anne: We need some[crosstalk 00:25:47]
Dennis: Couple years, you need a physical space and your New York is one of your top markets, if not your very top market.
Jordan: It's probably our biggest market.
Jordan: New York and California make up in the United States probably close to 50% of the business. So for us, we were at South by Southwest a couple years ago. The prevailing conversation was about how digital brands that are now clicks to bricks.
Jordan: So I kind of feel like everyday we get calls and emails of where can I see your product in New York, where can I see your product in Connecticut, where can I see your product in LA. So it's been a natural progression that we just find the right location and it's been several months trying to find space.
Jordan: But yeah, we've actually had staff here and offices at We Work for the last seven months in New York and it's been a really great experience.
Dennis: So, what's the retail location gonna be like, is it down in Soho, is that what you said to me?
Jordan: It is, yeah, on Crosby Street. It'll be a place for connecting meetings, but it will also be a rotating showroom studio.
Anne: Yeah, we have a space we opened in March in Jacksonville, so it's our kind of our headquarter office hub area. But the front of it is a retail studio space. So I think it'll be something similar here. Offices, studio, showroom, but also a place clients can come, we can entertain clients in New York.
Jordan: It's be really geared around rotating out some new collections.
Jordan: And we're still constantly searching the globe for these factories makers. I mean that's a lot of what we'll probably showcase here. For instance Atelier 2+ is a design collaborative in Bangkok that we just started bringing on a line of their cane furniture that we're excited, probably be one of the first collections in that space. But continue to bring all that kind of amazing product here and giving people an opportunity to see some of the stuff.
Jordan: 'Cause you see these products in Australian design magazines and Canadian publications and blogs and then you'd go online and you're like, I can't-
Anne: Can't find it.
Jordan: Can't find the stuff.
Jordan: I see where it's designed by these people in Bangkok, but where can I buy it. So those are the kinds of places and products we're trying to be the retailer for that sells these products.
Dennis: So is that how you're spending a lot of your time these days, traveling to all of these places?
Jordan: It's a lot of that for new brands, but it's also a lot of our own designs. So designing whole seating collections and those types of things and deciding on available fabrics and that type of stuff. Probably two-fold I think, and Anne is really more on the accessory side, so not home décor.
Dennis: Okay, and that's been sort of a more recent development yes?
Dennis: The whole accessory side of the business?
Anne: It's been more of the past year really I think since I came on board, we kind of started, okay we need to enhance this and round this out because we need to have more options than like two pillows. So what can we do. I think it's been cool too in this space.
Dennis: You think that's 'cause a guy was sort of doing it before, is that it?
Anne: I'm not gonna point fingers [crosstalk 00:28:43]
Dennis: Okay, yeah, got it.
Anne: So, yeah, it's been a fun project to do together, 'cause we found some really neat suppliers overseas and some domestically that are just doing really cool stuff.
Dennis: Well I mean interesting, I mean it really does give people a way into your brand, right, if they're not ready to commit to a sofa or a set of chairs.
Jordan: I've been really pleased to see how many $75 purchases there've been in the last six months.
Anne: I take more responsibility for that.
Jordan: Yeah, it's true, you should. But yeah, so that's been really interesting to see. A lot of these people come back and buy larger items in the months following.
Dennis: So they become loyal customers, and you've got a lot of repeat clients now.
Jordan: We do, and you know I think if you're digitally [inaudible 00:29:29] brands right now and you're totally reliant on the modern industrial advertising complex to grow your company, like you're not going to be successful.
Jordan: So for us, we really try to focus on past customers, you know a lot of email campaigns, social media, different things like that. We really try to ... the customer service is really important, so we really want that repeat customer, a lifetime customer. Because there's so much value in longevity especially high tech purchases like this.
Dennis: And we'll be hiring some people for the Crosby Street location, right.
Dennis: And when do you plan on opening that? That's October?
Jordan: It's at the mercy of the build-out team, but it should be within eight weeks.
Dennis: Okay, eight weeks.
Jordan: Yeah, excited about it.
Dennis: Does the space need a lot of work?
Jordan: It doesn't actually, we're gonna be doing quite a bit I guess to the space, but we could've taken it as it was delivered. But we're gonna do some really neat stuff. It's hard to keep up with all the cool stuff going on in New York, you know, you gotta do your unique thing.
Dennis: Yes, it's hard to really stand out.
Dennis: And to your point about the sort of clicks to bricks, so I mean look who's already down there, right. So, Warby Parker and Everlane, and all of these brands, Kasper and everyone.
Jordan: Yeah for sure, they're all down there and we walked into The Real Real earlier today, it was like they got a coffee shop downstairs, it was really cool.
Jordan: But yeah, it seems to be the thing. But it's very strategically [inaudible 00:30:54] in Soho or whatever neighborhood here, and then it's out in LA, LaBrea or wherever, it's very much, there's a lot of data behind those decisions and we've done the same work, so.
Jordan: But I mean our goal here is really to get exposure for the brand. There's still so many who have no idea about Industry West and the products that we design and sell and the lines that we carry and all that. So for us there's I think just so much runway.
Dennis: Yes so much potential.
Dennis: And the furniture industry is just so huge, right?
Jordan: It's huge.
Dennis: I mean it's ... yeah.
Jordan: It's huge and then it's-
Jordan: It's small, you know we'll need a factory and we'll see, I didn't know that they manufactured at this facility, it's a great one, it's obviously ... but it's really interesting. But the other part of it is, just joking with our, Ian Leslie, a great CMO, who was on his way out of the Double Sky Club and somebody high up with a major retailer was like, I've never heard of Industry West.
Jordan: On the one hand I'm like, oh I'm surprised that you wouldn't have because we're in the industry-
Jordan: But, on the other hand, there's so much potential. Then fast forward a week later, we're in Italy and we're hanging out and end up talking to a couple and they're like, what do you do. We're like Industry West, they're like, oh my gosh, I've done half my apartment with you, we love the brands.
Dennis: You're kidding.
Anne: How great.
Jordan: You know, how did you ... you know, so there's that story too, which is really, really fun and exciting, but yeah, there's a lot of room for growth for sure.
Dennis: There's a lot of runway as you say. So, is New York in your mind the first of several locations?
Jordan: It is, yes.
Anne: That's the goal, yes.
Dennis: Yeah, so you wAnnea open in LA?
Jordan: LA or San Francisco probably in the next 12 months.
Dennis: Okay, can you give me a little bit of insight. I know you said you remember sort of when you sort of became a million dollar company. Where are you now? How a big a company are you now?
Jordan: So I can say, I don't wAnnea say that necessarily, but I can tell you, yeah, this year will both from what we did the previous summer in Los Angeles. A factory out there that does a lot of our custom pieces.
Dennis: A lot of upholstery work in LA?
Jordan: Upholstery work-
Dennis: Lot of good upholsters in LA.
Jordan: And then a lot of upholstery work in Jacksonville on custom projects and powder coating here.
Jordan: But primarily it's ... we're in about 20 countries.
Dennis: Okay, in about 20 countries production wise?
Jordan: Right, about 75 factories, and this year we'll import around 1,000 containers, so-
Dennis: 1,000 containers.
Jordan: So quite a large operation on like I said, the supply chain side and the warehousing here and the distribution center. So we're growing, we're looking to continue 60 to 70 percent year after year until we don't.
Dennis: And you think you can sustain that kind of growth, 60, 70 percent year, I mean that's pretty, that's kind of rolling your eyes a little bit, I don't know.
Jordan: I just don't know, again we're focused on maintaining profitability.
Jordan: If we continue at that rate it's great, if not ... you know.
Dennis: You are certainly an anomaly in the industry.
Anne: I know and we're very aware of that.
Dennis: You're aware of that.
Anne: Yeah, the stories you hear from others, they don't match. I mean every store is unique, but it's just, seems like we'll wake up and go oh my gosh, like this is unbelievable.
Dennis: That you've been able to do it?
Anne: Yeah, I mean it makes-
Dennis: In a way right?
Anne: And then considering our [crosstalk 00:34:10]
Dennis: That you've been able to do it all yourself.
Dennis: With no outside funding.
Anne: No background.
Dennis: And you're profitable.
Jordan: That's true.
Anne: [crosstalk 00:34:14]
Jordan: We've had a lot of discipline and I always remind people, 'cause we spent nine and a half years, so I mean it's not like it happened overnight.
Jordan: And we've grown things over close to a decade. But at that, yeah, we've been really fortunate, and taken really good care of our people, and try to develop the relationships and-
Dennis: And who are you going head to head with? Who's your big ... I mean we mentioned Wayfair earlier, but that's, that's not really competition. Who is it?
Jordan: I don't really ... I think in this day and age no one can compete with Amazon and Wayfair when it comes to obviously breadth of catalog and price, even that, or Ikea for that matter.
Anne: Let's get West Elm.
Jordan: Yeah, some of the big ones-
Dennis: West Elm?
Anne: Yeah, textiles.
Dennis: Yeah, I can see that.
Jordan: Yeah, I mean some of the big ones, I know my vetters are when we get our big RFP and we get on the list and it's yeah, it's Restitution Hardware, West Elm, Crate & Barrel, lot of small makers in there too that I think are amazing.
Jordan: But it's a level playing field across the board. I understand now I think we have to really focus on curation and the catalog and diversity in the catalog. So, we're never going to be the lowest price point on the street, but I think we can bring really unique things that are curated in a way that nobody else is doing it. So, yeah, so that's what we'll continue to focus on.
Dennis: So you sort of joked earlier about not having a business plan. Do you have a business plan today, and if so, what does it look like? What are the next few years? Not to put you on the spot.
Jordan: Yeah, no, no, not at all. I think the realization like I talked about, customer acquisition costs, and the need for creating new chAnneels. So we've really gotta be aggressive, and so this whole space for us here, different mediums, even getting back into a few targeted print publications. I mean just really trying to push-
Dennis: Targeted print publications?
Jordan: Yeah, don't repeat that, yeah.
Dennis: Well, tell me about that, so what does that mean? Because print publications will be so happy to hear that. Let's talk about that.
Jordan: Yeah, I mean I think there's a lot of value in terms of the brand recognition and some really targeted publications that will resonate with our customer. I won't say what they are yet, 'cause we haven't necessarily found them.
Jordan: But yeah, we just gotta create more chAnneels, and the more chAnneels we create, the more we can continue to grow and to get our name out there. So it's all about filling the buckets, so to speak.
Dennis: Okay, so the online customer acquisition cost is getting a little high.
Dennis: Print must look relatively inexpensive compared, right?
Jordan: Well, yeah, if you look at the numbers, that's true. I mean I don't know what a full page in Elle Décor costs today, but I do know what a month of buying Google Ads costs.
Dennis: Sure, I will be very happy to set you up with a rep at Elle Décor pretty quickly. So, and they will be happy to take your call.
Jordan: Yeah, I'm sure.
Dennis: Yes. But that's really interesting and I've had several brands, One Kings Lane comes to mind for example, as a brand that said to us, we're looking at print publications.
Dennis: The reason we produce a catalog is because our designers want a tactile experience, and it shows our product really well. Designers still love print, in spite of what everyone might think.
Jordan: In [crosstalk 00:37:41] when you look at the costs associated with just digital advertising anymore, if you look at it just, you know, AdWords, or display ads or whatever. I think, yeah, it becomes affordable to really target a print page or something along those lines.
Jordan: I mean there's some mediums out there that are still outside of like ... some would do television advertising, which we won't be doing anything like that.
Dennis: Right, I don't think that's right for your brand.
Dennis: No, not cool enough for you.
Jordan: Well, televisions' way cool.
Dennis: But it's hard to come off cool in a television ad.
Anne: I can star in the commercial and it's fine.
Dennis: I'm just saying.
Jordan: But still it's gonna only be focused on digital.
Dennis: So getting back to the business plan, what's the thing that you're most excited about that you're working on now, and that you hope to develop?
Jordan: I think honestly, like much as people talked about the death of brick and mortar, we're really excited about these physical spaces.
Dennis: About having stores?
Jordan: We really are.
Dennis: Stores are making a come back, right?
Jordan: Stores are awesome.
Anne: You said, people wAnnea touch, they wAnnea see, they wAnnea sit on it or feel. I mean I think that's human nature, that interaction. But I think for me it's continuing to develop the social responsibility piece, and then we're in the preliminary conversation to launch another site that will focus majority on home décor.
Anne: To continue to I think help that evolve a little bit better.
Dennis: So when you say home décor, so tell me what you mean, what's gonna be different from the site you have now?
Anne: Well all the fun stuff, all the fun stuff. I think it's adding some of the things too that are currently in the studio.
Anne: Like, jewelry, I say jewelry, but just things that-
Dennis: You keep saying jewelry, it makes me a little nervous, Anne-
Anne: That's 'cause I personally like that.
Dennis: Because that sounds off brand to me, but I mean if you can make it work-
Anne: I can make it work.
Jordan: I said the same thing, but you would be amazed how I feel about jewelry in Jacksonville in the studio.
Anne: But it's not, but you can't put that on an Industry West site, but creating another site and a platform for people to go to that has the same type of aesthetics we are.
Dennis: Right, so if you like this look and feel, this is who we are, let us show you our jewelry and accessories.
Jordan: Well yeah, jewelry is not so much a fit for the Industry West brand for sure.