Today furniture subscription startup Feather announced their expansion into two new markets, Los Angeles and Orange County California after securing $12 million in funding. The Series A was led by Spark Capital and had participation from Kleiner Perkins, Bain Capital Ventures, Y Combinator, PJC, Fuel Capital and Scott Belsky, among others. Spark Capital has helped fund other startups in the furniture industry including Wayfair, 1stdibs, and Everything But The House.
This brings Feather’s total funding to $16 million. The company plans to use this investment to become a leader in reverse logistics as well as increase headcount.
A Greener Business Model
Feather launched in 2017 in the New York City market by three-time startup founder and Y Combinator alum, Jay Reno. Reno developed this business model to provide a solution to the problems caused by the rise of “fast furniture.” Much like fast fashion, fast furniture has a trendy look and low cost, but it isn’t designed to be used for the long haul. While some pieces are a great way to stay within a budget, especially for occasional furniture like side tables and accent chairs—there is a tendency to go overboard. While cheap clothing isn’t generally purchased out of necessity, everyone needs a sofa.
Then factor in the statistic that millennials move more than twelve times before purchasing a home. So, home furnishings are being purchased and disposed of at a higher rate than in previous generations. It’s no surprise that 9.7 million tons of furniture end up in landfills every year. Particularly for this demographic, rental subscriptions like Feather are a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to furnish a home.
Furniture Rental 2.0
New furniture subscription services, like competitor Fernish aren’t entirely different from the older rental models such as Rent-A-Center, albeit with far superior branding and products. Feather is targeting a different market entirely. Furniture rental has traditionally appealed to two very different demographics—real estate professionals (for staging purposes) and low-income populations. Feather subscribers can buy furniture, but they’re choosing to rent instead because it is simply a smarter option for them.
A Millenial Solution
According to Reno, Feather’s subscribers are in the stage after graduating from college before they purchase their first home, between the ages of 18-35 with a 50/50 split between men and women. “Their lives are often changing—jobs, relationships, cities, and as a result change apartments every one to two years,” he says. “They are drawn to customized, on-demand services that give them access to items without bearing the burden of ownership to make this more transient life possible.”
Feather also sets itself apart because their inventory is from the stores where their customers would normally be purchasing from. They currently offer 150 different pieces from retailers West Elm and Pottery Barn, who they have exclusive partnerships with as well as other popular brands such as Casper, Leesa, and Joybird.
Feather’s subscription model has two tiers, members and non-members. Members pay $19 per month for an annual membership “Members get a significantly discounted monthly subscription price on their furniture pieces, which equates to 50% of retail after one year of their membership,” explains Reno.
The startup also has a rent to own model built in, allowing subscribers to apply the amount they’ve already paid towards renting the item to the cost of purchase. They can also change out their furniture for a charge of $99 per trip, with one free change annually for members. Delivery and assembly are also free, which is an added cost that many people forget to add on to the price of owning furniture.
But not all of Feather’s subscribers are frequent movers. A portion of their business comes from people who rent out spare rooms in their home or have properties used as short term rentals through Home Away, VRBO, Airbnb, etc. Using Feather allows them to furnish these spaces in a more stylish and cost-effective way. However, says Reno “It’s important to note that the overwhelming majority of our customers are using our furniture in their primary residence.”
As for future expansion, the brand is focusing on its new markets for now, but Reno says not to count it out. “We haven’t shared any public plans for additional expansion, however, we believe Feather offers a service that city dwellers across the country and world can use to furnish their homes without spending a fortune or hurting the planet in the process.”