Scott, Amanda and I just got back from 3 days of training in North Carolina. We attended “Vanguard University” with Vanguard furniture, a family owned furniture company in business over 50 years.
The trip was fun and we met some great people from across the country who also have retail stores and design firms. The trip was not only fun, but also very educational. I learned so much about the actual furniture building process. I did not appreciate what ‘Hand crafted’ and ‘Made in America’ really meant until this week.
I’ve come to the decision for me, personally, that it is worth paying a little more to help support the hard working families and also the fine craftsmen of this country. I am going to do my best to convince my clients likewise.
I learned some interesting tips related to:
2) Selecting COM (Customer’s Own Material) fabrics for upholstery application
3) Hand applied finishes
and I plan to share some of these insights in the coming weeks.
Before then, here are some quick highlights from the factory tours regarding the usual “why does it cost so much to…” questions. I have to admit I have asked all these questions myself, so it is with some embarrassment that I now have seen the rationale and share the answers.
1) Why does an 8 way hand tied sofa cost more than a sinuous spring sofa? It isn’t just the quality that costs more, it is the time involved in providing you the quality:
2) Why are nail heads an upcharge? Someone has to hand draw a line to follow then VERY steadily apply the nail heads in an even row. With the coffee I drink there is no way I could do this job!
3) Why is real leather more expensive than vinyl or fabric? Can you imagine hand cutting every piece to make the best use of the hide?
4) Why does it cost more to buy a frame that has ‘finish options’ such as staining and painting rather than buy from a company that only has one finish choice? Can you believe, every piece is hand sprayed or painted with a brush!
Not only that, but they aren’t just adding one coat, but a multi-layer process that involves a quality check at each level to make sure the finish matches the wood chip that we agreed to purchase.
5) Why is a silver leaf or gold leaf finish so much more expensive than a painted or stained finish? It isn’t just the cost of the materials! It can take up to 2 full work days to leaf a particular product depending on the size.
Why does it cost more for a sofa of the quality that we believe in selling? Because it is made by hand in America and someone in a factory is hand sewing the bottom of the seat cover with a needle and thread so it looks perfect and smooth on the front and sides. They sign their name to the tag that goes on this area saying they built the piece to a higher standard than required by law, and to a higher standard than many foreign countries.
The tours really were an eye opening experience. Not just in quality and commitment to detail in hand crafting a product. But also, for me, of a personal obligation to chose not to select disposable furniture but to select fewer, better products and support the companies committed to employing and strengthening our communities.