With the Craigslists and eBays of the world, Viyet founder Louise Youngson-Klasfeld (check out her recent DS house tour here!) was finding it increasingly difficult to find used, high-end furniture pieces online. Turning that frustration into innovation, Louise decided to launch her own online destination for luxury furniture owners to sell their items and allow customers access to expensive pieces at a discounted rate. Win-win for everyone! Today Louise is sharing a bit about her journey from idea to conception and the things she learned along the way. – Stephanie
Read the full profile after the jump…
Why did you decide to start your own business?
The idea of starting Viyet came from our own experience struggling to find a resale option for expensive designer furniture. My best friend Rachel was renovating her NYC home. It had only been a couple of years since she had last decorated with beautiful designer furniture. She, like many other individuals, didn’t know what to do with her gently used designer furniture that was no longer needed. Throwing it out or donating it seemed like the only options.
We felt like there was a need for a hassle-free service that allowed people like us to recoup some of the value of their pieces. The idea for an online marketplace for pre-owned furniture was born and we launched Viyet.com, a site where design-loving people could purchase these pieces at a fraction of their original cost.
When you first decided to start your own business, how did you define what your business would be?
We wanted to offer buyers a beautifully curated assortment of designer pieces at great prices. Additionally, we wanted to offer a white glove, hassle-free experience to our consignors. Outstanding product and exceptional service defines Viyet.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
What was the most difficult part of starting your business?
As a mother of three, juggling family and work is definitely the hardest. Fortunately, everyone around me is supportive and I try really hard to be disciplined about setting time aside to be mom, and not checking my phone every two seconds when the kids are around.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
I think you need to be willing to try different things and listen to others, especially your clients. Without exceptional customer service to ensure happy, satisfied clients, you don’t have a business.
Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences?
Early on, we were not as disciplined about fully vetting our partners on the storage and delivery side of our business. We learned a lot from this experience, and implemented a strict diligence process for all of our potential partners to ensure that they have the ability to uphold our strict customer service standards.
Can you name your greatest success in your business experiences?
There is truly nothing as rewarding as hearing from happy buyers and sellers on a daily basis. From a consignor who was finally able to sell her furniture to make room for a new baby nursery to a young couple who was able to design the home of their dreams on a budget using pieces from our site, I am always thrilled when I see our services making a positive impact on other people’s lives.
What business books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?
I just finished Ben Horowitz’s book “The Hard Thing About Hard Things.” I found it offered so much valuable advice about the tricky situations you often find yourself in at an early stage startup where there are no easy answers.
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
Do you have the network to recruit an early and active user base? Drawing on our own relationships with designers and design-savvy individuals allowed us to establish a loyal base of consignors and buyers right off the bat.
Do you have the relationships to recruit an early, experienced team? Bringing on the right hires in the first 12-18 months can make or break a business.
Do you have the financial resources and mental fortitude to handle the early days where you will likely be unprofitable? Starting a business is expensive and stressful. Make sure you have access to enough funds and the support of family and friends to get through the tough days.