When it comes to furniture, "high quality" and "low prices" aren’t always synonymous. But, for Nidhi Kapur, the founder and CEO of Maiden Home, she’s setting out to change that. Created with fine fabrics and timeless designs, Maiden Home is a new direct-to-consumer furniture line that offers home dwellers ample options (most items come in over 40 fabrics and four leather choices) and don't break the bank. Couch shopping just got way easier.
Give us the short story on how you got your big break in the design space.
"We launched Maiden Home in March 2017 after nearly two years developing the concept and brand. When I started building the company, I had a vision for a better way in furniture — but no experience in the design space! I had previously worked in business development at amazing companies like Birchbox and Google, and came to furniture as a frustrated consumer who struggled to find quality pieces for my own home.
"I started my journey with months of research, understanding the furniture industry from every angle. I networked with tons of industry experts and veterans, but my big break came when I joined forces with our manufacturing partners, family-owned custom upholstery makers in North Carolina. Our partners are the world’s foremost experts in high-end furniture making, and they taught me everything I needed to know about developing beautiful, comfortable pieces at the quality standards I wanted for my brand. They also introduced me to furniture designers who create for the industry’s most respected brands, and who helped bring my aesthetic vision to life. It was through piecing through this incredible network that I was able to make Maiden Home a reality — and with it, make my break in the design space."
What does a typical day look like for you?
"No day is the same, and that’s the best part! We might be hosting an event at our showroom, shooting in our customers’ homes, or working on our next collection at the office. The variety is what keeps the work exciting and interesting, even when the hours are long. I like to spend some time every day 'with' our customers in some way — helping them coordinate fabrics in their home, asking them for feedback on our products, engaging with them on social media, etc. They are really the heart of our brand and I like to stay close to make sure what we are offering is lined up with their needs."
What’s been the most rewarding project you’ve worked on to date?
"The development of our launch collection! We launched Maiden Home with a collection of four sofas and four chairs, customizable in a range of fabrics, finishes, and sizes. Each piece went through at least three rounds of physical prototypes built before it was deemed perfect — truly a labor of love. There are hundreds of details to consider when developing furniture, from scale to comfort to subtle design details, and we obsessed over each one. The development process took over one year and was incredibly humbling as I came up the learning curve with the support of our partners. But the end result was more rewarding than anything I’ve done before."
How do you define success?
"For me, success is the satisfaction of knowing I gave it my best. When you start a company, there are so many unknowns, so while you can try your best to set measurable goals, they’re always subject to change! The one thing you can control is your own personal effort towards those goals, so that’s how I’ve come to measure success."
What’s one thing about the design industry you’d like to change?
"I’ve found that it is really difficult to find uniqueness in the design space — particularly in furniture, the best ideas are quickly copied and the industry doesn’t enforce protections on original work. This is unfair not only to talented artists and designers, but also to consumers who are faced with a sea of look-alike products of various quality standards. I personally felt this pain point when furnishing my own home. All the mainstream options felt so generic, and it seemed like everybody was buying the same sofa!"
On the flip side, what do you find really refreshing about the space?
"Design is becoming democratized. Now, through new media platforms like Houzz and Pinterest, consumers everywhere are exposed more breadth and quality design that ever before. You don’t just have to live in a major hub like NYC to know design! Now consumers everywhere are demanding more than cookie-cutter, and looking for ways to express their unique style."
Where do you go for inspiration?
"I am lucky to live in NYC, a city brimming with design inspiration. When I have time on the weekends, I love to gallery-hop on the Lower East Side, a hub for smaller independent art galleries. And I always try to make time for the city’s many designer showhouses, where top interior designers come together to transform a beautiful home — each room with a unique design. You see some incredible creative expressions and I always take away an idea or two to use in my own work."
In a space that’s so saturated and driven by trends, how do you make your work feel timeless and unique?
"I stay true to my personal style. I have personally never enjoyed chasing trends in my home, wardrobe, or elsewhere — so exhausting. But I have strong opinions about what I do and don’t like aesthetically, so I follow my gut when it speaks to me and try not to overthink it. The result is always something I feel great about and can personally stand behind.
"When I set out to create our collection, my instincts told me that there was a gaping hole in the affordable furniture segment for a timeless, transitional look that I personally loved. When I sought out pieces of this kind of style, I could only find them at designer boutiques at much higher price points. I followed this instinct and took a massive leap of faith that there were others out there who were also searching for this style! Two years later, we are live and it’s been fantastic to see that I was right. I think so many of us are exhausted by fast fashion, and looking to buy quality things that we’ll love for years. "
Who are your design icons?
"Aerin Lauder is my #1! She exemplifies simple, understated elegance and makes luxe feel laid-back. I absolutely love every expression of her style. "
What advice do you have for people trying to enter the design space?
"If you’re an industry outsider, don’t assume that’s a disadvantage — it may be your biggest asset. You’ll bring fresh thinking and a unique point of view that may allow you to create a better way. Stay humble as you get up the learning curve, and surround yourself the partners who are invested in your success. I’ve found the design world to be incredibly welcoming to newcomers, especially those who are looking to create solutions to long-standing pain points. So don’t be intimidated to dive right in."
See the full list of Lonny’s design disruptors here.