Great new businesses aren’t always a complete reinvention of the wheel. For B Seated Global cofounder Daniella Menachemson, the key to her next big venture was opening the delivery of a new pair of shoes, which led to a lightbulb moment.
“When I unboxed my first pair of Shoes of Prey, [I thought], ‘why can’t we do that for furniture? We already make custom furniture… can’t we do it for other people too?’”
The creation of Furniture and Me, a custom-furniture retailer, was intended as an extension to the thriving bespoke furniture and interior fit-out business B Seated Global that she started with her father, Jack Klein, more than 10 years ago.
“Our niche is manufacturing custom one-off pieces for projects,” she explains of their first business, which she helped build during maternity leave from her marketing position in the tech product space. “Over the years, we have been approached by residential customers wanting the products we manufacture.”
In response to the growing demand – along with the idea that came with her new custom shoes – Daniella worked on adding an arm to her business that would allow eager clientele to bring their own designs to life. This year saw the launch of Furniture and Me, which offers everything from bed heads to chic chairs and sofas, ready for your bespoke touches. In addition to your design input, Furniture and Me pieces are purchased direct from the manufacturer, lowering price points for the end user.
Although the team have since added a third business to their umbrella – the styling site Tysiza – their solid grounding in manufacturing didn’t mean there wasn’t a lot of work to be done in adding a new venture to their growing family portfolio.
“The manufacturing engine was already in place so we didn’t to have to rethink that part,” Daniella says. “The biggest challenge is that the purchase is completely online and the [resulting] challenge was making the customer feel comfortable without seeing or sitting on the product.”
Another potential obstacle is the fact that Daniella has family for coworkers. With a cofounder in her father and also a colleague in her mother, Charlene Klein, who oversees the finance side of the business, dealing daily with family in the office is something not every entrepreneur would be able to balance effectively.
“Working with family can be challenging,” Daniella admits. “My father and I started the business together and have always had respect for one another. There have been disagreements over the years, but we get over them quickly. The rule I stick to is keeping it professional: it’s never ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’ in the office, it’s their first names.”
Their 12 years in business proves this strategy has been a roaring success.
“My father is unbelievable at cultivating brilliant relationships with his clients and customers, and I’ve learnt a lot about how important that relationship is,” Daniella explains. But perhaps why the relationship really works, is that wisdom flowed both ways for the two. “Over the years, being a millennial implementing digital solutions wherever we can, [or] streamlining processes in our business and changing the culture and values of the business and what it stands for [came from me].
“He didn’t come from a background where these were important.”
As the saying goes, three heads are better than one.