Investing in bespoke furniture is a smart approach to sustainability. We spoke to Maison Roca on design and driving a business forward in the interior space.
What do your first 30 mins of the day look like, your morning routine?
My alarm is set for 6 am daily apart from the weekend where I try to indulge in a lie-in for as long as I can before the kids wake me. One of the first things I usually do is check the Instagram page for any messages that may have come in overnight. I’m trying to break this habit as I know it’s counterproductive and it’s much more beneficial to set proper working and rest times, but as a new small business, I find myself replying to clients’ questions and requests at random hours of the day. I also have to get the kids and myself ready for the school run. So mornings are a very busy time of the day. Once home I do some exercise a few times a week as feel so much better keeping my body and mind energized. That sets me up for the rest of the day dealing with client inquiries, visiting suppliers or designing.
What is at the heart of Maison Roca’s DNA as a brand?
The key value I set for the company is that all of our tables should be functional yet beautiful in form. Everything we make is bespoke and made to order, so clients can specify which piece of stone they prefer, the sizes and also have an input on design. All these results in some really beautiful and unique pieces, that will last a lifetime. Marble has been popular throughout the ages, but with our designs, I feel we are helping make it current and cool again.
What ignited the idea to branch into furniture design, marble specifically?
Honestly, it was a result of a personal struggle to find quality modern stone pieces for my own home. I searched and searched for something perfect in the stores and just could not find anything. At the time travertine was making a come back but none of the high streets were stocking anything modern and fresh in this fab stone. I had very clear ideas of what I wanted and nothing was cutting it. It’s now easier to find, but design and size is still very restricted when buying off the shelf.
What has been the biggest hurdle since launching and how did you overcome it?
I think the biggest hurdle has been stone and supplier quality. You can find the most incredible slab of marble but when you start working with it the natural weak lines may cause issues, also the logistics of moving large pieces of stone carefully without causing any damage is a tricky business. I’m very grateful to my suppliers who take such great care and do their absolute best to deliver perfect pieces. It’s all trial and error and we are learning every day what works and what doesn’t, hopefully, we put what we learn into practice and are improving all the time.
What’s your favourite piece to date and why?
There are so many to choose from. I love it when a client is as passionate about the stone as I am, and they give me a little creative license to create something different and really celebrate the stone, it doesn’t need to be a complicated design simple is sometimes better but working with what nature has given us and maximizing the beauty in the design is what I love. If I had to choose just one piece it would be a console we made with a beautiful green and white cloudy onyx, it’s a simple piece but so striking because of the stone.
How do you think last year affected the growth in popularity of people investing in bespoke pieces for their homes and do you see this approach as more sustainable?
So many people during the pandemic have spent so much time in their homes, I really feel they want to make the most of their space and surroundings. We have spent so much time within 4 walls that the space needs to work on many different levels. For work, relaxation and with the hope of entertaining again. The mass-produced items are not special enough anymore. The fact people are really investing and taking a personal interest in their homes means that these pieces will be loved and cherished for generations, making them a more sustainable investment. This obviously has a huge knock-on effect as far as fast-fashion/interiors go which is unsustainable not to mention wasteful, hopefully, we are carving the way to a more sustainable and less wasteful world.
The price point is accessible – was this a key factor from the outset?
I absolutely wanted our tables to be accessible for all. One of our biggest markets is the young trendy career women and men who want a bespoke home, that is current and luxurious but doesn’t have the price tag of some of the cult brands. It’s a constant battle to keep the prices as affordable as possible, especially with rising transportation costs, for marbles to be imported and also delivery fees. We currently don’t have a showroom which contributes to keeping our costs down, although I’d love a place to showcase our work one day as touching the stone is just as enjoyable as looking at it.
Do you have any mentors or guides and how does this help navigate the right path?
I haven’t had any mentors but the online community of incredible female entrepreneurs is always a huge inspiration to me. The willingness to help each other is truly something that has pleasantly surprised me and I’m so happy to have been welcomed in and proud to be part of it. There are some incredible brands that are really championing other ladies’ businesses and this is just so wonderful to see.
Where do you source your marble from and how challenging was it to refine this process?
We are always finding new sources and I love nothing more than searching the stone yards for that perfect slab it’s like gem shopping. We have our own in-house stones but for some projects we outsource, it’s a real learning curve to find the best panda marble or the best Arabascato. The marble comes from all over the world, Greece, Italy, Turkey and China, but the quality varies significantly, so finding the most beautiful stone and the best quality isn’t always the easiest task.
As a young brand, what is your approach to scaling the business?
This is something I’m battling with, I know to scale the business a website is very important and will be a game-changer as clients will be able to easily see stone options, prices and the made-to-order table collection. I’m excited about the website that we are working on but the real struggle is finding the time to devote to getting it set up without impacting the day-to-day running of the business.
Which designs have been most popular to date and was this as you predicted?
Our ATUA table has been one of the most requested tables. I think this table is particular because it’s very simple and lets the stone do the talking. Yet it’s a very elegant table and complements most decor types. I always think the bold designs will be popular as that’s instinctively what I’m drawn to, but that’s not always the case.
How do you approach client engagement and retention?
I’m very proactive when it comes to any engagement on the Instagram page, all the likes, comments and shares really have such an impact on the growth of the business and it’s so appreciated. I always try to reciprocate likes, reply to comments and share any pictures clients may post. We also have done a couple of giveaways when we have reached a milestone. We have given some beautiful travertine candle holders and also when we reached 1k followers we gave an ARCO side table away in travertine. I think it’s really important to acknowledge and say thank you to all the people who take the time to follow our journey and are there supporting us every day.
How has social media affected building Maison Roca?
Social media has been paramount to the growth of Maison Roca, Instagram is currently the only channel we work. with, although the website is coming soon. I have been so surprised about how diverse the client range is, and love being able to reach all ages and characters through this channel. I think there is a real connection that all Instagram users have and that’s ultimately a love of seeing beautiful or interesting images, and if our grid inspires people to switch up their interiors then that a big plus. It’s also pushed us to think about what people want to see if photos work better or reels, I quite enjoy playing around with those but I’m still a novice and trying to find the right formula of adding new content often but trying not to bore people is a balancing act.
What advice would you give to your younger self, starting out?
I think the one thing I would let my younger self know is that things always work out for the best, no matter how rocky the road is to get there. Trust your instincts. Pick yourself up after knockbacks and just keep going. The only successful businesses are the resilient ones, the ones that pivot and are open to changing direction if that’s what is needed. Things also don’t happen overnight it’s easy to get obsessed by the number of followers you have, but it’s better to have 1k followers that are really interested in your brand than 100k followers who pay no attention to what you are doing at all.
This is ‘The Sustainability Issue’ – how are you supporting a more sustainable approach to life both professionally and personally?
Professionally speaking, marble is known as one of the most sustainable materials, although it is finite there is so much supply it will outlast any demand, having said that I cannot bear waste and we have been looking into ways to utilise scrap pieces of the stone we use. Personally, we eat a mainly plant-based diet at home. I have been on and off vegetarian for the last 20years and although we do eat meat occasionally I am very aware of how much better my mind and body feel on a fully plant-based diet. I also love how my kids come home from school spurring me to be more sustainability aware.
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