Anna Brockway, a self-described “obsessive compulsive home decorator,” always struggled to find beautiful, vintage furniture online to fuel her side hobby.
“The industry felt really closed off, hard to access and a little bit unfriendly,” she said. “One-of-a-kind or contemporary [pieces] weren’t available for sale online. You had to go store to store in your neighborhood, which has an impact on selection because you're not seeing everything that's really available. It felt cumbersome.”
Brockway, formerly Levi's VP of marketing, launched Chairish with her husband, Gregg Brockway, former co-founder of Hotwire and TripIt, to solve that problem. The duo started the company in their dining room, and Chairish was officially born in 2013.
The high-end, home décor e-commerce marketplace offers a curated selection of vintage furniture and contemporary pieces from designer brands and original artists. More than 4.5 million users visit the site each month to shop from more than 550,000 items, sold in partnership with 10,000 small businesses and artists.
The Chairish website offers home decoration suggestions based on rooms, articles and interviews with designers. Chairish also launched a new program in March, called Follow This Tastemaker, which features a designer that curates a selection of favorite picks and exclusive design ideas. The series’ inaugural designer is acclaimed interior designer Celerie Kemble.
In 2020, Chairish expanded its offerings by acquiring online trade marketplace Dering Hall and its offshoot, DECASO, which sold vintage, antique and bespoke furnishings.
The website’s clientele are “women who love to shop and think of home decorating as their sport,” according to Anna Brockway.
But winning over a fanbase has been a challenge.
“There were questions around, ‘Would people buy something that they haven't sat in? Is the look and feel in person so important that this will never be a growth category?’” Anna Brockway recalled. “But what we found is, furniture became the fastest growing e-commerce category in the country.”
As e-commerce accelerated during the pandemic, Chairish reaped the benefits. The marketplace grew in revenue between 70% to 100% year-over-year, depending on the month, according to Anna Brockway. Chairish also grew its monthly shoppers an estimated 60% year over year.
“If anyone was standing on the sidelines before, they're now hopping into the game and listing their products online,” Anna Brockway said. “Thankfully, many of the high end suppliers have been with us, which has been wonderful.”
However, brand recognition still remains one of Chairish’s biggest hurdles.
“The challenge for us has been more on the awareness side,” Anna Brockway said. ”How do we tell more people who we are?”
Chairish hopes to drum up that attention with its first major marketing campaign, which includes two spots that spotlight the array of chic and colorful home décor pieces sold on the website. Chairish also launched a print publication, Chairish Magazine, to showcase new products.
“We're really lucky that the category that we work in is not a ‘have to do’ but a ‘want to do’ for many people,” Anna Brockway said. “It's something that people just love.”