New manufacturer+retailer of mid-century modern furniture —
made to order
Several weeks ago I started noticing ads for Joybird Furniture appearing on the blog… the ads looked intriguing… so I finally took a look at Joybird’s products. I liked what I saw and read, and a few minutes later I was on the phone talking with one of the company’s four co-founders. I was impressed — I count nine reasons why:
(1) The furniture is good-looking. For example, my favorite sofa (this week) is the Worthy design, shown in orange at the top of this page. I love the Dick van Dyke Show lines and ooooh, that tufting. I bet a lot of folks will also like the atomic-looking Fitzgerald sofa (in aqua, above). There are sleek lined-desks… and wall units that look to be channeling Cado and Royal Systems and Barzilay….
(2) Prices seem fair. “My” Worthy sofa — which was on sale recently — came in at under $1,500 (on sale). Yes: You may be able to find vintage furniture at better prices. But re: sofas particularly, while the frames can be amazing, reupholstering a vintage sofa can get very expensive, very fast — if you can even find someone to do a quality job.
Related to pricing, I learned a term that I had never heard before: Joybird Furniture is among a new breed of ‘manutailers’. That is: They are both the manufacturer and the retailer. Sounds like this eliminates the middleman markup, allowing for lower prices. And, this business model should help Joybird stay very close to needs and wants of today’s customers.
(3) Shipping is free.
(4) Two-pound foam — I asked about the quality of the sofas, worried that a relatively inexpensive price point would mean… lesser quality. The company said that it uses kiln-dried hardwoods for the frames, which sounds like it is pretty standard in the industry. What really sets their sofas apart versus some other similar competitors today, they claimed, is that that Joybird uses two-pound foam for their cushions — which is not so common industry-wide, he said. I googled the foam-weight issue a bit, and sure enough, it seems that foam quality can make a significant difference in how sofa cushions wear. I checked with another company that I’ve featured before — Younger Furniture, which has lovely mid-century style designs and is Made in the USA story, and Marilyn Spell told me, “Our standard is 2.0 high resiliency and our ‘Y Lux’ [an upgrade] is 2.5 high resiliency.”
Note, however: I am not an expert on how to assess sofa quality and certainly not company-vs.-company; we are not Consumer Reports here. I put this foam-weight issue on the list because the company called it out; sounds like this is definitely a factor to further research and add to your checklist if you are in the market comparison shopping and want to assess ‘value’ issues. To be sure, I’ve heard complaints about failing cushions on inexpensive sofas before….
- If you are looking for a mid mod sofa, see our story 216 affordable mid-century modern sofas — but note, there are several companies also mentioned in the comments not included on our list — and we now need to add Joybird.
(5) Made-to-order sizing — Joybird told me that they Furniture carry no inventory. It makes all its products to order. The company also offers customers the option to adjust their furniture sizes up, down, sideways — whatever. Want a sofa that’s six inches longer… or three inches shorter… or 2 inches deeper or how about different legs? Joybird can do it for you. They will also let you send your own upholstery fabric. I was told that lead times are four weeks for all orders, but that timing can vary depending on volume.
(6) Made in North America — Update Sept. 2015: The mass of the company’s production is in Tijuana, Mexico; they told me they also do some framing about five miles away in San Diego. They are also looking at starting up a manufacturing location in Canada. I have eliminated any text in this story that previously suggested “Made in the USA” since the mass of their production is in Mexico.
(7) Clever customer service — Joybird will email you a photo of your furniture piece at each key step during its manufacturing progress. For a sofa, for example, there is a seven-stage manufacturing process — so you’ll get seven photos along the way.
(8) Great website — Nice website, easy to navigate. Nicely done, Joybird tech team, I like it!
(9) Efficient communication — Well, this is very anecdotal, but when I first contacted Joybird — via their online chat — the service was surprise-and-delight excellent. Chat-box Hank was right there… Hank found me the right person to talk to right away… and they picked up their phone. In today’s phone-tree-push-a-button-get-disconnected-frustrating world, this certainly made a nice impression on me. A repeat interaction was equally efficient.
I like the look of these products and the ‘manu-tailer’ business model. I will keep my fingers crossed that it’s all a big success — good for Joybird, and good for we mid-century modern and -modest enthusiasts and decorators, too!
Note, just to be clear, this is NOT a Sponsored Post — nobody be paying me to write this. If and when you ever see a sponsored post here, it will hit you across the head, okay? FYI, how we make money here.
Update: In late fall 2015, Joybird began advertising directly on this site. This is an advertising deal only, does not include product placements or links in stories, etc.