Remember what you thought when you first heard of Etsy, Craigslist, LushPad, and 1st Dibs? Did you wonder how an online marketplace for furniture and home decor could ever gain enough gritty traction to make a go of it? When I inadvertently came across a link to another new kid on the block, MyBlueSofa.com, I couldn't keep my mouth shut, I just had to ask co-founder and CEO, Manuel Garcia, HOW, WHY and WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? Read how My Blue Sofa is quickly making a name for itself and why it's the perfect sized pond to buy and sell unique furniture and home decor. No fees. Seriously.
Q What inspired you to start a furniture/home furnishings specialty website?
A Our inspiration began about two years ago when my wife and I were planning our wedding, and buying furniture for our home. My wife spent many hours searching websites for furniture and decor with little luck. So we started to wonder, what if there was a website where many small and distinct furniture shops could get together and offer their products? The idea tickled us for a couple of months, until we decided to quit our jobs and start My Blue Sofa.
Q You all seem like the tech fellas, who's behind the furniture, design interest?
A Although many friends have contributed directly and indirectly to the creation of My Blue Sofa, we're just a team of three: Pablo (programming), @stephengrasman (marketing), and @manuelomarg (marketing & business), and definitely, our best providers of ideas on design & style are our wives. Stephen and I have an interest for furniture and design, but our wives have complimented and given the final touches to the project.
(Since My Blue Sofa doesn't charge a fee for buying or selling, I asked the following)
Q What's your plan for monetizing My Blue Sofa? Advertising, eventual percentages of listings or sales?
A In a later stage, we plan on offering sellers a premium membership where they will have tools to manage and increase their sales, and also have increased exposure for their items. We also plan on letting sellers promote their items in special showcases for a fee. But right now our efforts are being focused on building a community of shops and customers devoted to their homes.
As a funny side note, we get emails everyday from furniture shops that tell us they don't believe it's free, and they ask if there is a hidden fee. But it's absolutely free, and we want them to generate sales before we start making money.
Q Right now there looks to be an abundance of brand new furniture posted, will that change?
What are you going for, handmade, vintage, a mix?
A We definitely are going for unique furniture and decor items. They can come from artisans, designers, independent sellers, or small furniture and decor shops. Items can be new or used, and can come in a variety of styles (when searching for styles, we simplify them to five: antique, modern, traditional, country & vintage). We definitely don't want to carry what the big furniture stores are carrying. We go for items that are unique and truly loved by their sellers.
Q Would it be accurate to say My Blue Sofa is a mix between Etsy's furniture section and Craigslist?
A We haven't really thought of that way, but now that you mention it, we'd like to get that sense of community and uniqueness of Etsy, and the simplicity of Craigslist for furniture and decor.
Q What do you consider to be your differentiating feature/function?
A I think it lies in the simplicity of our site. We've tried to build a venue for sellers to open their shop and start selling in three clicks, and for customers, to look for items and go through the check out process within seconds, and never lose that feeling of being "home". Shopping is always fun, but we want to make it fun and simple too.
Q What do you envision for My Blue Sofa?
A To be the largest community and marketplace for anything home related.
Q Will you be featuring, say, tutorials on how to spruce up some finds?
A Yes, we want our blog and forums to be a source of inspirational ideas on decor, design and DIY, and definitely, tutorials on how to spruce up some finds on My Blue Sofa are on our minds.
Q Do you just have one person assigned to the blogging for My Blue Sofa?
A Right now @arlenegrasman (Stephen's wife) is providing content for ideas on decor, and I get to post news and updates about My Blue Sofa. We'd like to invite our sellers in the near future to provide posts about their ideas on on furniture and decor.
Q What is the goal for the blog?
A Through our "Blug"(we mixed blog and blue) we want to provide a bit of inspiration every day. The blug is divided in two main categories: Ideas on decor and news about My Blue Sofa.
Q How long have you (My Blue Sofa) been live?
A We've been live since May 3rd, and we've had a wonderful time so far! We've received great reviews by our sellers and customers and we want to keep up the good work!
Q Where are you located?
A We are located in Hermosillo, Mexico (about 3 hours from Tucson, AZ) and we travel alot to Arizona and California, so you could say that we operate My Blue Sofa from Mexico and the US.
Q Have you thought of of providing furniture experts to answer questions people have about restyling, redesgning, reupholstering or repairing pieces?
A Yes, we'd love to bring expert's advice to help people with their inquireies about redesigning and reupholstering. Everyone is thinking these days about how to make more with less!
Thanks to Manuel and Stephen for willingly answering my nosy questions.