Company: EcoModernism (www.eco-modernism.com)
Tell Us A Little Bit About What Your Company Does And What Services You Provide:
If modern kitchen design and sustainable materials had a baby, it would be EcoModernism. We design, assemble and install residential kitchens. We start with IKEA cabinet components – because they are extremely affordable – and finish them out with as many green materials as possible. Some of those materials include quartz countertops, bamboo shelving, cork flooring, recycled glass tile, and zero VOC paints. Green building materials haven’t become mainstream enough yet to get the price down. By using IKEA to save on the boxes, we’re able to shift the budget toward the more expensive finishes, and still come out cheaper than a fully custom kitchen. We design the kitchen to meet the client’s needs and goals, functionally and aesthetically. Once we lock in on that, we compile the order and help them place it.
The average IKEA kitchen comes in about 150 flat packed boxes. We offer an assembly and installation service, which starts with verifying the order’s completion when it gets there. Then we assemble it all, install it and help coordinate the countertop templating. We also dispose of all recyclable packing materials at a local facility.
How Did You Get Started?
I grew up in neighborhoods that had houses under construction, so the smell of wood and sound of saws and hammers has never gotten out of my blood. I started in commercial architectural design in 1986. Did that for 10 years, then moved into space planning and management for a dot com company. Got laid off from there in 2001 and have basically been on my own since. I find the project size & lifespan of residential design a lot more enjoyable than commercial projects. I’ll always be involved in design in some capacity.
How Long Have You Been In Business And How Many Employees Do You Currently Have?
I’ve been an independent designer since 2001, and have hung out my shingle as EcoModernism since January 2008. Currently, I’m the whole show. I have an installer who helps me with the actual installation of the boxes. I contract with him on a per project basis, and I partner with trades like electricians & plumbers the same way. I forged a positive relationship with the local IKEA store, & we both recognize the mutual benefits of our businesses. I’m approaching the critical mass point where I need to bring some help in – there’s only one of me, and I need to find a way financially to jump the chasm and develop a full time team.
Who Is Your Target Audience?
For individual single home projects, my target audience is people who love modern style – clean simple lines, no traditional trimwork like crown molding – and combining it with rougher design elements like wood or irregular surfaces, and indirect lighting. Most of the people who come to me already know they want IKEA. Saves us both time & pain trying to sell them something if they don’t already want it. For multi unit condo projects, my target audience is developers who want a cost effective, modern look with efficient space use, and are conscious about urban infill as an eco friendly solution to how we live.
How Does Your Company Stay Connected With Clients And Your Business Community?
Twitter, LinkedIn, mainly. I’ve done some presentations for Ignite and other local events. And networking with local contractors and like-minded small companies. Mostly I try to maintain a reputation as a quality service provider no matter what stage of service we’re in. I stress reliability, realistic budgeting & communication, & building a solution around the client, not the other way around. If I get that down, then my previous clients become my marketing engine for me.
Can You Offer Any Advice For Anyone Else Looking To Start Their Own Company?
Be driven by your own passion – don’t let the naysayers beat you down. Do the work in finding what people need/want. Then be disciplined about providing good service. Try to think relationally about things that are on the periphery of your business. For me, it’s issues like urban living, container or community gardening, and furniture. Have fun!