Have you ever relocated your home or office and just decided to get rid of unwanted furniture time after time? We're talking about nice furniture that may have been passed down to someone else simply because you couldn't find the energy to transport it to your new spot.
Dara Schaier, founder and CEO of BOOP, has a solution to offer. BOOP (Built Out of Paper) is an early-stage startup that makes fun, sustainable, paper-based products for your home and life. Schaier recently sat down with Project Entrepreneur and chatted about her furniture company and how movement can be a great thing.
Project Entrepreneur: What inspired you to start your business?
Schaier: The huge hassle that is moving in New York. My (now) husband and I were living in Brooklyn and moved five times in seven years. Of course, we did not have a car, and half of those were walk-up apartments.
Each time we moved, a lot of the inexpensive, temporary furniture that we had would go into the trash since it was difficult and costly to move it. We'd then start the process all over again by working to get replacement furniture delivered, up the stairs and assembled. I felt like the whole notion of temporary furniture was necessary, but too stressful and too wasteful.
At the same time, I was working in the printing/paper industry and was exposed to the idea of corrugated cardboard furniture. It existed on a very small scale, mostly for trade shows, but no one had ever really found the right audience for it.
The furniture was lightweight, sustainable and cool-looking. I knew there was a market fit for young, urban dwellers like myself.
What's been the biggest challenge you've faced so far?
Getting a consumer product made, especially if you want to keep manufacturing in North America, is really hard. The corrugated industry has been around forever and is doing pretty well just by making the same types of boxes and products it's always made.
Getting a manufacturer to step a bit out of their comfort zone, and to do it at a competitive price, has been challenging. The upside of this problem is that every day I'm building my network and expanding my technical knowledge.
What is the biggest thing you'd like to see changed in your industry, and how are you working toward making that change happen?
Young people have moved back to cities, stay renters for longer periods of time, move more frequently and delay buying permanent things. Businesses should react to these changing demographics.
Unfortunately, the furniture industry has responded to this need for short-term pieces by flooding the market with cheaper, flimsier, questionably sourced and impossible-to-recycle products. In fact, furniture is the No.1 least recycled item in a household and millions of tons of it head to landfills each year.
BOOP's cardboard furniture aims to change this by making temporary furniture out of responsible, paper-based materials, like corrugated cardboard. Fibers are originally sourced from sustainably grown and managed trees can be easily recycled by the average person and can then be diverted from landfills to make new products all over again.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to another entrepreneur just starting out?
Always be working on a Plan B, C, D, E, F, etc. In entrepreneurship, when something changes or goes wrong (and something always will!), it typically has a domino effect through your whole business plan. If you have alternatives to each piece thought out, set up and waiting in the wings, it'll be much easier to put everything back together when this happens.
What do you do every Monday morning to prepare and motivate yourself for the coming week?
I've been thinking lately about how all the days of the week tend to blend together when you're an entrepreneur and that marking Monday as the beginning of a new week of work and possibilities is indeed important.
Here's my new Monday morning plan:
- Buy an automatic coffee maker so that the smell of fresh coffee is the first thing I wake up to.
- Take my dog for a morning walk to think about the day/week to come.
- Update my two to-do lists of both macro and micro goals.
- Eat something delicious for lunch, because, well, it's Monday and I deserve it!
This article originally appeared on the Project Entrepreneur website and has been condensed for clarity.