Investing in bespoke furniture is a smart approach to sustainability. We spoke to Maison Roca about designing and running a business in interior space.
What does your first 30 minutes of the day look like, your morning routine?
My alarm clock is set for 6 a.m. every day, except on weekends when I try to sleep in as long as possible before the kids wake me up. One of the first things I usually do is check the Instagram page for any posts that may have arrived overnight. I’m trying to break this habit because I know it’s counterproductive and it’s much more beneficial to set proper work and rest hours, but as a new small business I find myself responding to customer questions and requests at random times of the day. I also have to prepare the children and myself for the school race. Mornings are therefore a very busy time of the day. Once home, I exercise a few times a week because I feel so much better keeping my body and mind energized. This prepares me for the rest of the day responding to customer requests, visiting suppliers or designing.
What is at the heart of Maison Roca’s DNA as a brand?
The key value I have set for the company is that all of our tables should be functional but beautiful in form. Everything we make is bespoke and made to order, so customers can specify which piece of stone they prefer, sizes and also have a say in the design. All this results in truly beautiful and unique pieces, which will last a lifetime. Marble has been popular through the ages, but with our designs I think we are helping to make it current and cool again.
What sparked the idea of getting into furniture design, especially marble?
Honestly, it was the result of a personal struggle to find quality modern stone pieces for my own home. I searched and searched for something perfect in stores and found nothing. At the time, travertine was making a comeback, but none of the main streets stored anything modern and fresh in this fabulous stone. I had very clear ideas of what I wanted and nothing was interfering with it. It’s now easier to find, but design and size are still very limited when buying off the shelf.
What has been the biggest hurdle since launch and how did you overcome it?
I think the biggest hurdle was the quality of the stone and the supplier. You can find the most amazing marble slab, but when you start working with it, the natural faint lines can cause problems. Additionally, the logistics of carefully moving large chunks of stone without causing damage is tricky business. I am very grateful to my suppliers who take such great care and do their best to deliver perfect parts. It’s all trial and error and we learn every day what works and what doesn’t, hopefully we put what we learn into practice and improve all the time.
What is your favorite piece to date and why?
There are so many choices. I love it when a client is as passionate about stone as I am, and gives me a little creative license to create something different and really celebrate stone, it doesn’t have to be a complicated design, sometimes it’s better but it works with what nature has given us and maximizing the beauty of the design is what I like. If I had to pick just one piece it would be a console table we made with a beautiful cloudy green and white onyx, it’s a simple piece but so striking because of the stone.
How do you think the last year has affected the growth in popularity of people investing in bespoke pieces for their homes and do you see this approach as more sustainable?
So many people during the pandemic have been spending so much time at home, I really feel like they want to make the most of their space and surroundings. We have spent so much time between 4 walls that the space has to function on different levels. For work, relaxation and with the hope of having fun again. Mass-produced items are no longer special enough. The fact that people really invest and take a personal interest in their homes means that these pieces will be loved and cherished for generations, making them a more lasting investment. This obviously has a huge ripple effect when it comes to fast fashion/interiors which is unsustainable not to mention wasteful, hopefully we are paving the way to a more sustainable and less wasteful world.
The price is accessible, was this a key factor from the start?
I absolutely wanted our tables to be accessible to everyone. One of our biggest markets is young, hip career women and men who want a bespoke home that’s current and luxurious, but doesn’t have the price tag of some cult brands. It’s a constant battle to keep prices as affordable as possible, especially with rising transport costs, marbles to import and also delivery costs. We don’t currently have a showroom, which helps keep our costs down, although one day I would like to have a place to present our work because touching the stone is just as pleasant as looking at it.
Do you have any mentors or guides and how does that help you navigate the right path?
I haven’t had any mentors, but the online community of amazing female entrepreneurs is always a great inspiration to me. The willingness to help each other is really something that pleasantly surprised me and I am so happy to have been welcomed and proud to be part of it. There are some amazing brands that are really championing other women’s businesses and it’s so wonderful to see.
Where does your marble come from and how difficult was it to refine this process?
We are always finding new sources and I love nothing more than searching stone yards for that perfect slab, it’s like buying precious stones. We have our own stones in-house but for some projects that we outsource it’s a real learning curve to find the best panda marble or the best Arabascato. Marble is sourced from all over the world, from Greece, Italy, Turkey and China, but the quality varies greatly, so finding the finest stone and the best quality is not always the easiest task.
As a young brand, what is your approach to growing the business?
This is something I struggle with, I know to scale the business a website is very important and will be a game changer as customers will be able to easily view stone options, prices and table collection on measure. I’m excited about the website we’re working on, but the real challenge is finding the time to get it up and running without affecting the day-to-day running of the business.
Which models have been the most popular so far and was it as you predicted?
Our ATUA table has been one of the most requested tables. I think this table is special because it is very simple and lets the stone do the talking. Still, it’s a very elegant table and complements most types of decor. I always think bold designs will be popular because that’s what I’m instinctively drawn to, but that’s not always the case.
How do you approach customer engagement and retention?
I am very proactive about any engagement on the Instagram page, all likes, comments and shares really have such an impact on the growth of the business and it is so appreciated. I always try to reciprocate, respond to comments and share photos that customers may post. We also gave a few giveaways when we hit a milestone. We gave away beautiful travertine candle holders and when we hit 1000 subscribers we gave away an ARCO travertine side table. I think it’s really important to recognize and thank all the people who take the time to follow our journey and who support us on a daily basis.
How has social media affected the construction of Maison Roca?
Social media has been paramount to the growth of Maison Roca, Instagram is currently the only channel we work on. with, although the website is coming soon. I was so surprised at the diversity of the customer lineup and love being able to reach all ages and characters through this channel. I think there’s a real connection between all Instagram users and ultimately it’s the love of seeing beautiful or interesting images and if our grid inspires people to change interiors, that’s a big more. It also got us thinking about what people want to see if the photos work better or the reels, I like to play around with those but I’m still a newbie and trying to find the right formula to often add some new content but trying not to bore people is a balancing act.
What advice would you give to your younger self, just starting out?
I think the one thing I would let my younger self know is that things always turn out for the best, no matter how hard the road is to get there. Trust your instincts. Get up after knockdowns and keep going. The only companies that succeed are those that are resilient, those that pivot and are open to changing direction if that is what is needed. Things don’t happen overnight either, it’s easy to get obsessed with how many followers you have, but it’s better to have 1,000 followers who are genuinely interested in your brand than 100,000 followers who don’t lend pay no attention to what you are doing.
It’s ‘The Sustainability Question’ – how do you support a more sustainable approach to life both professionally and personally?
Professionally speaking marble is known as one of the most durable materials, although it is limited there is so much supply it will outlast any demand, having said I can’t stand the waste and we looked for ways to use pieces of stone. we are using. Personally, we have a mainly plant-based diet at home. I have been a vegetarian and non-vegetarian for 20 years and although we eat meat from time to time, I am very aware of the well-being of my mind and body on an all-plant-based diet. I also like the way my children come home from school, which inspires me to be more aware of sustainability.
Mars – ‘The Question of Sustainability’ – Download Now
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