The top three expenditures when settling down are a house itself, the car, and the furniture for a house. Chairish is paring style with value to bring interior decorators and furniture enthusiasts beautiful, vintage home decor at the fraction of what high -end furniture might normally cost. And they’re doing it by the disrupting the home décor industry through innovation and technology.
Chairish takes its name from combining the words “cherish” and “chair”. “The intention behind the name was to communicate that this was a site for beautiful things that are intended to be loved over the course of time,” said Co-Founder Anna Brockway. The idea of Chairish came after Anna and her husband moved multiple times after to accommodate their growing family’s space needs. “I was constantly redecorating,” said Brockway. She found that a lot of her vintage pieces wouldn’t work in the new spaces, so she’d have to sell them online.
While trying out other well-known online selling and buy sites, Brockway realized that selling vintage furniture was a challenge. With eBay becoming more about big sellers, it was very difficult to sell anything for an individual like Brockway. Buying wasn’t easy, either. Sites like Craigslist and Etsy have no kind of curation, so it took many more hours sorting through items trying to find high quality pieces. She once purchased a table from an elderly lady in North Carolina, then spent a lot of time trying to figure out cross-country shipping. “It was incredibly time-consuming and frustrating,” explained Brockway. “After going through that process several times, my husband and I looked at each other and said, ‘This is ridiculous. Somebody should make it easy for people who love beautiful things to sell to other people who love beautiful things.'”
According to Brockway, the best way to describe the difference between Chairish and other eCommerce sites is to call it “a full service, furnishing focused, curated version of eBay.” Chairish is one hundred percent focused on home furnishings and décor. All of the items on the site are curated by a team of editors to make sure they meet standards for style and quality. Chairish is also full service. “We actually help with the logistics of getting the item from the seller to the buyer,” said Brockway. “And for large things like furniture, this is actually a big deal.”
Selling is very easy, whether someone sells through desktop or Chairish’s app–which was voted #1 as a design app by Architectural Digest. On the app, a user simply uploads pictures of the item, sets the price (Chairish will offer suggestions based on how other similar items have sold), and waits for offers. In the vintage world, bartering is very important. Chairish offers the opportunity for seller and potential buyer to haggle until an agreement is reached.
So far, the sellers on Chairish have been a mix of individuals and professionals from the vintage seller community. Brockway estimates between 12,000-13,000 sellers are offering items on Chairish right now, with an almost equal amount of professional sellers and individuals. Attracting sellers hasn’t been hard. “This is a selling community that’s been wildly underserved,” said Brockway. Since the launch of Chairish in 2013, Brockway truly has been pleasantly surprised at the way the site has exploded.
So what about the buyers? “The home décor business, especially for women…is like our ESPN,” said Brockway. “We call it the Home Porn business.” Tapping that community of design enthusiasts, redecorators, and remodelers has been crucial in getting the word out about Chairish. “We’ve really tried to partner with with bloggers who love the vintage space,” said Brockway. The message they communicate is about the beauty of unique, vintage furniture–along with the value of buying second-hand pieces.
“One of the things about buying vintage is that you save a lot of money,” Brockway explained. Just like buying a new car which depreciates as soon as you drive it away from the car lot, furniture is the same way. For example, a restoration hardware Kensington sofa is sold on Chairish for $1,900. A new one might be $5,999. “It’s amazing style and it’s a great deal. Why wouldn’t you look?”
Brockway grew up around the high-end furniture market, as her father worked in many furniture-related businesses, including Baker Furniture. “I grew up loving beautiful homes and being fortunate enough to live in one,” she said. At 21, Brockway started working in marketing at Levi’s. There, she learned a lot about vintage, which is a huge part of Levi’s brand. She has always been into interior design, furniture, and beautiful spaces–so the businesses grew very naturally out of this passion.
This is a principal Brockway would give to any aspiring entrepreneur. “I think the main thing is to focus on an area that you’re so passionate about that if all you did every day…was wake up every morning and think about it over and over and over again, you wouldn’t be bored,” she advised. “You have to love what you’re doing that much, because that is what you’re going to be doing.”
Brockway is also excited to be disrupting the home decor industry with a little technology boost. Her husband Gregg Brockway was the Co-Founder of Hotwire, so the Chairish team has been extremely innovative on the technology side of the business. Many furniture stores hardly sell online, if at all. She’s been surprised and excited by the level of interest the technology and engineering communities have expressed to help build something new when it comes to the furniture buying and selling experience.
“Our team here kind of represents that vision of style and value coming together,” she said. “My background in fashion, marketing, and style and my understanding of the vintage business–and then the technology side really coming from my cofounders who have the hardcore background of building really awesome technology to facilitate and grow marketplaces.”
After working in publishing at Penguin Random House, Teryn O’Brien went the entrepreneurial route and launched her own business to help organizations and individuals tell their stories through photography, writing, video, and online marketing strategy. Teryn enjoys exploring the startup & entrepreneurial world, mentoring writers & storytellers, and speaking out against injustice in all its forms. She spends her free time hiking Colorado, writing books, and drinking too much tea.