By Sean Santiago
Nidhi Kapur is sitting on a tailored sofa with a tray of pastries on the cocktail table before her. “Have one!” she implores. The former Director of Business Development at Birchbox is no stranger to e-commerce — or, for that matter, hospitality — but her well-appointed living room belies her newness to the design industry. Read on for the inside scoop on Kapur's disruptive debut furniture line, Maiden Home, and a preview of its covetable pieces.
“[At Birchbox] I saw the company scale and had an excellent experience, but I was always drawn to the home space," says Kapur. "I was furnishing my own place — our first home that we purchased together after getting married —and feeling past all of the disposable furniture and ready to buy a little more intentionally. It’s a life stage people go through and it's incredibly stressful. You want to get good quality and good design for your price point, and that’s where I really struggled.”
Kapur found herself nonplussed with the likes of Crate and Barrel and Restoration Hardware and wondering why there weren't any digital-first brands speaking to her from a style perspective. "Everlane tells you where your clothes are being made, Sweetgreen tells you where your food comes from — why not for the products I live with in my home?" she says.
Kapur knew exactly where her journey needed to start. "We went to High Point (North Carolina) and met our manufacturers. They were predicated on an old-school model of buying and selling furniture — to the trade. Shopping online is a whole world they’re not a part of. So I harness what they do best, which is really high quality execution, and leverage what I do best, which is build a brand online. We work with three factories in North Carolina, all family-owned, just how you would picture it."
The resulting line of four sofas and four chairs is an ode to intention. "One of the things I realized is that online, the options are overwhelming," says Kapur. "How could you ever sort through and choose for yourself? I’d rather go to a brand that says with integrity, this is what we offer and this is what’s best.”
Every piece is made to order and fully customizable, shipping from the factory to the consumer in six weeks or less — half the time of anywhere else. "The simplicity of the experience and the speed of the turnaround was all done with a modern, internet-savvy consumer in mind. A brand that's really born and raised online takes a ton of costs out of the equation, and all of that savings goes back into quality," says Kapur.
The brand launched private beta over the summer and has seen stable growth, even in more rural areas. (Kapur spoke of one woman based in Little Rock, Arkansas who does all of her shopping online simply because there aren't any furniture retailers nearby.) The entire product line is available in a tailored range of wood finishes and stains and upholstery comes in linens, leathers and a performance velvet Kapur describes as "indestructible."
"At first I meant to create access to these high-end custom factories," says Kapur, "but now I've realized that it's really about providing access to great design anywhere in the country." Can we get an Amen?