This week we speak to Ning Li CEO of Made.com, about their furniture site which is just a little bit special - and not just for the prices! Francesca Krajewski, Founding Partner of Naked Wines, recommended them in her interview with us back in February, saying:
I really like what made.com are doing. They’re doing for furniture what we’re doing for wine.
For any of our readers who aren’t aware of you, can you give us an intro to the business?
Made.com is an online furniture retailer that brings furniture direct from the makers to you. Offering up to 70% off high street prices, Made.com works with a number of both established or young and talented designers from all over the world. Made.com was launched in April 2010, co-founded by Julien Callede, Chloe Macintosh and myself.
Where can we find you, and why did you choose to set up shop where you did? - What attracted you to that area?
Our offices are based in Notting Hill, London . We have also an office in Shanghai.
A number of our factories are situated in the Far East and so we wanted to be closer to them in order to offer our expertise, quality inspection and to ease the manufacturing process. We chose Notting Hill as our London as its a trendy area which we felt was well suited to our brand. London is busy and bustling and we felt that Notting Hill really placed us in the centre of everything that’s going on!
What inspired you to start your business?
I was buying a sofa - almost ready to pay £3000 until I realised a factory of a friend of mine actually manufactured that sofa - and they were selling it for £300, a fraction of the price I was about to pay. I was puzzled and went on to find out that it is very much the norm of the furniture world - a public secret - that every middleman (agents, traders, importers, wholesalers, etc) makes a fat margin and it is widely accepted.
So we decided there was an opportunity for us to do the best thing for the consumers by shaking the industry a little bit. By connecting the consumers to the factories, we cut out the traditional middlemen so the consumers can save money.
What is your philosophy in a nutshell? What would you say makes you stand out from the crowd?
Beautiful furniture for all…. High-end, designer furniture was the privilege of a small number of people that could afford to pay for them. Today, with Made.com, consumers can buy direct and save up to 70% off the high street price.
Bouji Chair, Pavilion Grey. Only £169 from Made.com
Can you explain how your business works and what differentiates it from your competitors’ in the industry?
We are currently in a recession and the public are looking for the best deals with the same quality they always wanted. We offer that unlike our competitors and with our group of designers, creating our furniture, we’re also offering that ‘designer’ edge.
Do you have a signature product/specialism you could tell us about?
One of our best-sellers, the Stroller Desk was by ex-Conran designer, Steuart Padwick. It’s a fine example of what we at Made.com believe in – high quality, beautiful designer furniture without the high street mark-up.
What would you say is the secret to a successful independent business? What advice would you give to someone looking to follow in your shoes?
As a small, independent business your strength is being… small. Being small and independent means you can really focus on your business and your team. You can’t fight with big, cash-rich players in marketing budget, but you may be able to evolve much faster than them and innovate quickly.
Finally, what can we expect from you in 2011/2012? Anything our readers should be looking forward to?
There are lots of ideas in the pipeline! Our team is constantly growing and we also hope to look into a showroom due to the demand of our loyal customers. We also want to deliver to Europe soon and hopefully one day the rest of the world!