What does the television show Mad Men, an iPhone app and vintage furniture have in common?
If you thought: a modernised 1950s telephone then you were kind of on the right track.
But in fact, it’s so much more than that. It’s the newly launched Couchelo – a curated marketplace for unique, upcycled and pre-loved vintage furniture and homewares. I mentioned it in a recent link love blog post and thought I’d find out a little more about the team behind the app and how they decided to merge the old with the very new.
Here co-founder Will Fan tells us more …
Tell us about Couchelo
Couchelo is a curated marketplace for unique furniture and homewares. We make it easy to find vintage, pre-loved and handcrafted decor. We mean the retro bar stools, the industrial lamps and reupholstered vintage chairs that will make the most enviable abode.
We are connecting boutique businesses, collectors and design lovers on an easy to use platform where you can browse, buy and sell. We have just launched a preliminary beta app on the iOS store showcasing some really cool items.
Who is the Couchelo team?
We are passionate design amateurs turned enthusiasts who wanted to do something to transform the industry. Couchelo is about using updated technology to help a niche market become more accessible to appreciation. We are a start-up so we are doing everything.
Will looks after the business side of things, Fei manages the day-to-day operations, Mike is responsible for the development of our technology, and Sisi is our marketing guru.
What was the reason and inspiration behind creating Couchelo?
After a few weekends of binge watching Mad Men – we had a certain look in mind whilst trying to furnish a new apartment. Where do you start looking for an industrial 60s lamp, or Don Draper’s handy office drinking cart? eBay and Gumtree meant sifting through used mattresses and cheap imports from power sellers. Ikea ruled out anything unique (or sustainable). Weekends became drives around Sydney checking out questionable leads from outdated websites.
What we realised is that Sydney has a very scattered group of boutique bricks-and-mortar sellers, collectors listing on eBay and standalone online craftsman. These were the people selling vibrant bespoke designs, revived vintage pieces and who don’t really have an online presence. Not only was there no go-to place for everyone to connect, there was also no easy way for buyers or enthusiasts to find them.
We want to make it simple and encouraging to look for cool furniture. By creating a curated online marketplace, it means that only the best items from the most interesting sellers are available in one place.
What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced in setting up the business? What’s one piece of advice you would give to others wanting to set up their own business?
Convincing furniture retailers to become our early adopters was tough. Not only were we industry outsiders, but we had little to show except for a concept presented on PowerPoint. Since our launch in April, we’ve on-boarded over 100 boutique storefronts, collectors and individual artisans which has proven that there is a need for something like Couchelo.
My two cents as a (first-time) business owner? Stop thinking and start doing. Your time is gold, so stop wasting it by analysing reasons not to pursue a good opportunity.
Where do you see Couchelo in the future?
We want to showcase our favourite home-grown boutiques and designers to the world. To do this, we need to start bringing all these independent creatives in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and other design cities on board Couchelo. We also want to work collaboratively with the 160,000 design professionals in Australia to create a curated marketplace with a collection of unique furniture and homewares.
Can anyone sell on Couchelo? How do you make sure the furniture is of a high quality?
If you’ve got something with great design, pieces with a bit of character, a creative use of materials or simply a tasteful pre-loved piece that needs a new home, we’d love to see it on Couchelo. We only want the best items so we are developing guidelines to help potential sellers understand what kind of items may be unsuitable for Couchelo. In the meantime, the team is very hands on with the curation process to ensure continual quality.
The best thing about living in Sydney is …
Sydney makes pretty damn good coffee. We’re also seeing an exciting shift in the world of cafes, with many acting like small bars, indie coffee labs and artisan bakeries. The food is adventurous and their roasts are always spot on.
My best or most loved vintage find is …
I recently found this vintage fan from a retro collector in Marrickville, which reminded me of the same one my grandparents used to have in their home. I remember it was the only thing that kept me cool during the long and sweaty Aussie summer nights. Oh, the sweet memories.
My guilty pleasure is …
Taking the back roads instead of the highways … then I’m late and feel guilty.
Have you ever had a ‘who’d have thought’ moment?
I have ‘who’d have thought’ moments every day in the world of technology. There are some brilliant young minds out there, working on developing the latest gadgets that will change the way we do things. For example, I have a friend who’s working on integrating wearable technology with his job outsourcing website.
Imagine you’re driving to work and the post office calls to say you need someone to be at home at a certain time to pick up a parcel. Instead of rescheduling the drop off because you’re on your way to work, you post a job via the Google Glass app and have someone wait outside your home to pick up the delivery. Pretty amazing, right?
- Whale cushion from The Works Glebe
- Original 1930s cobra cane chair from Ginger Elliott
- Retro bar stools with new tropical green print from Tangerine and Teal
- French leather club armchairs in original condition from French Folie.