Like most successful startups, Maiden Home began with a personal pain point. Birchbox alum Nidhi Kapur was furnishing a new home and struggled to find a furniture provider that ticked all the boxes for her: quality, affordability, and clarity in manufacturing process. So, like any entrepreneurial-minded person does, she took matters into her own hands.
"I was completely new to the market and didn't know about the furniture industry, but I felt there was an opportunity to serve quality at this price point," she tells Natipernavigare. "So that led me to think, okay, where is quality furniture made?"
After, Kapur says, "casting a really wide net" looking at manufacturing across the U.S. and around the globe, she settled on someplace furniture industry veterans know well: North Carolina.
"The heritage and the attention to craftsmanship are really unique to the region," Kapur says. Indeed, the state is the veritable capital of American furniture, with numerous companies creating case goods and upholstery in a slew of factories in the state, not to mention the biannual High Point Market drawing some 80,000 buyers, designers, and other industry insiders to see the newest offerings.
Historically, though, that market (both the literal market event and the industry as a whole) has been fairly closed off to the public, manufacturing for to-the-trade or wholesale companies, which send products to stores and showrooms, where customers will see it on the floor, often with very little understanding of its origin or heritage.
And, in the direct-to-consumer world, transparency is key. When she was shopping, Kapur says, "I felt like I was buying one sofa and I wanted to keep it for a while, so I had a lot of questions. One of the biggest red flags, for me, was that most of the time salespeople did not have the answers for me."
Merging the heritage and craftsmanship of North Carolina's factories with her tech and business acumen, the founder figured, would result in a perfect marriage. And it's one that Kapur is all about showcasing.
"In this category, 'American made' translates to quality, because it’s handmade, it can’t be done by a machine," she explains. "You need a very skilled craftsman, and this craft is really passed down from generation to generation and person to person."
In Maiden Home's partner factories, it's not uncommon for the hands that touch its product to have been working at the same skill for 30 years. That's the case for Dan Rink, who does the eight-way hand ties on Maiden Home's sofas.
"That heritage and attention to craftsmanship is really unique to North Carolina," Kapur says. And it's resonated with the customer. After a successful first year selling living room furniture, Maiden Home entered its first new category this spring: beds.
As with their previous products, the brand looked to the quality of their manufacturing partners to lead the way. "We knew the bed is the next major pain point and the next investment piece," Kapur says. "So then we look back at our partners and see if we can do it uniquely well. We brought on a new partner who specializes in beds. That’s all of their business and they do that incredibly well, so they had a unique skill set."
She's optimistic that in this case, as with the living room assortment, celebrating craft will translate to sales. "Consumers are more savvy and they’re willing to do more research," Kapur says. So showing exactly where their furniture comes from? "I think that’s where we really win."
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