You Don't Have To Settle for Mass-Produced
With ten years of experience in the furniture industry, the co-founders of Stem realized there was a need in the market for truly custom, eco-friendly furniture for the conscious home. Building off of their previous innovations in eco-friendly materials and customization, they further evolved the furniture shopping experience.
Ditching the notion of the mass-produced furniture warehouse, Stem allows customers to customize each piece online (with free design consultation!) and then to experience the furniture in their own spaces with a 100 day in-home trial. All of their furniture is made-to-order from eco-friendly, non-toxic materials in California. Through this model, they're able to reduce waste and ensure customer satisfaction, making for a truly unique furniture shopping experience.
Behind The Scenes With Stem's Co-Founder, Travis Nagle
Ryan and Travis Nagle are brothers who have cultivated their love of modern design, entrepreneurship, and sustainability to produce Stem. Growing up in California shaped their core values, their interest in the outdoors, and their love for the arts (creative and culinary). We had a chance to catch up with Travis about the inspiration for Stem's custom made goods and his perspective on the furniture industry.
The furniture industry is in desperate need of disruption. Where do you think the industry is headed?
In general the furniture industry is a little slower to evolve than fashion or other consumer goods. I think a lot of the innovation will be utilizing technology for the manufacturing as well as the shopping experience. With tools like virtual reality and augmented reality, consumers will have new ways of engaging with products from their homes before purchasing to further merge online and offline. The brick and mortar experience will utilize technology as well and do a better job of making it feel like an engaging experience. Overall the younger generation of shoppers wants to feel connected to the brands and the products they own, so furniture has some catching up to do and we're planning to be leaders in that realm.
What was the initial inspiration to create completely custom made pieces?
We were sitting on a bench looking at a massive two story furniture store. It just seemed so outdated, and we wanted to create a way for each customer to create something unique and use a customizer to enable that creation. We think people should be involved in the process and instead of having a lot of designs with no options, curate a focused collection and then allow for some level of personalization. Each home is unique and we love how connected people are to the furniture they help bring to life.
What inspired your love for the handmade and for the art of craftsmanship?
Our father had a wood shop growing up and our mom is an artist, so we grew up with and have always enjoyed making things. Whether it's installation art, furniture, or even a project in the backyard, it's so nice to work with a tangible item and form it to a realized entity. I spend so much time in front of my laptop, and it's a different part of the brain when you work in the physical realm. Knowing the skill and attention to detail makes me appreciate well crafted goods even more.
What are your favorite eco-conscious materials to work with?
Reclaimed lumber is fun to work with because you can see the life it has lived right on the surface, and it's so nice to be able to extend that life and repurpose it in a new way. I would also say natural latex even though it's not as visible. It's very sustainable in terms of how it's harvested, and it's something that compared to the usual options is so pure in terms of the materials. It's also not that common so it's fun to be able to innovate with it and find new ways to utilize in our designs.
Tell us what it’s like working with your brother as a business partner!
It's great! A lot of people are amazed we can work together and still be such good friends, but we balance each other out nicely. Plus there is an inherent trust and understanding that comes with knowing someone literally your entire life.
And anything plans ahead for stem you’d like to share?
We're working on some fantastic new products right now which is always a fun part of the business, and we're finalizing some platform integrations to enhance the shopping experience. We plan to evolve the furniture industry and push it in the direction where more customers and brands are aware of and utilize eco-friendly practices and products. It's an exciting time and we're ready to make a big impact.