Green By Design Podcast Episode 3; Medley CoFounder, Travis Nagle, Talks Clean & Green Furniture



Here's the transcription of Erica's interview with Medley's cofounder Travis Nagle.

"Erica:

Okay. You, my friendly listeners have just tuned in to the green by design podcast, which might mean you're an interior designer looking to learn a little bit more about going green or maybe another kind of home professional, but whoever you are, we are happy to have you here today to learn a little bit more from our amazing guest this afternoon. So thank you for tuning in; the goal of this podcast is to help the interior design industry as a whole, as well as the professionals go a little bit greener through education, discussion and connection. And I am your host. My name's Erica Reiner, and I have founded my company eco method interiors. So today's guest is Travis Nagle. Did I pronounce that correctly?

Travis:

Sure did.

Erica:

Okay. So I'm going to tell you guys a bit about Travis. So Travis grew up in California and then after college, he worked in advertising for a couple of years before going into business for himself and launching a furniture collection with his older brother, Ryan in 2005, which they did out of their apartment. Now, Medley is their newest brand focusing on all of the things that they have learned about furniture over the past 15 years, including the focus on sustainability and nontoxic materials. Travis currently lives in New York while Medley is based in manufactured in Los Angeles.

Travis:

Yes. Thank you very much for having me.

Erica:

Oh, absolutely. Thank you. So I was about to say thank you so much for being here. I am very excited. I think you're the first actual producer maker that I have with me so far on this podcast journey. So I'm very excited. You are what you guys do is really in my wheelhouse in terms of your sustainability and ethos, and also stylistically, you guys are a high style brand. It's not like I'm Quaker, you know, like country kitchen table, it's a little bit, you know, more in trend and modern. And that is exactly what we need to make this whole green thing work in this industry has to be aesthetically pleasing. Cause that's what this business is. So having said that I will just let you tell us a little bit more about how this business came into inception and also specifically where the green element came from because there are not many, there's a few, but there's not many people doing what you're doing to the level that you're doing. And especially with the fact that it's e-commerce. So let's wrap that all up and you can tell me just all about the past.

Travis:

Sure, sure. So, as I mentioned, we've been doing this for a while, but going back to 2005, when we first came up with the idea I was working in advertising, as you mentioned, my older brother was working, you had a graphic design company. So we came from it more from the kind of creative standpoint in terms of our experience and skillset. But the idea and impetus was really from a consumer standpoint at that time there weren't a lot of furniture companies that were focused on selling their products online. And I think weren't utilizing that technology to offer things cause it being customizable and a little more personalized. So that was the original idea was to kind of shift the thinking around the shopping process and then push that all to pieces that are a little bit better quality made in the U S and all customized from your home, basically.

Travis:

So as you mentioned, we started this out of our apartment. We didn't have any funding or anything like that. We really didn't, to be honest with, you know, what we were doing, which can be an advantage sometimes, right? Because you come from fresh perspective. And so totally just launch it out of, out of our apartment to call them our models. And then eventually it sort of taken off and we both quit our careers and full time. And through that process within the first five, six, seven months, we became privy to the type of materials that are being used in the industry as sort of standard and where some of the opportunities might be. We didn't at first even have a clear understanding of what they could, the elements met within the role of furniture. It was of interest, but we didn't understand that the minutia of from inside out the techniques, all that kind of stuff. So as we grew and evolved, that became a big, big part of where we were able to implement some innovations around a lot of that. Not necessarily from the sort of production standpoint, as much as initially from the materials standpoint.

Erica:

And so from the production standpoint, is it just You two building furniture in your apartment?

Travis:

No. So we we do not have the, the shots to make these ourselves, we actually pieces ourselves which was from a consumer standpoint, also part of understanding price point, what sort of quality is out there at that price point, and then trying to find a kind of middle ground between high, high end luxury and stuff that maybe is a little more disposable, but we basically have partnered with existing manufacturers and to have like explicit partnerships with them. So we come up with all the designs, they build it in Los Angeles.

Erica:

That's fabulous. Okay. So you had to do a lot of digging as to who is already in line with your standards, with the kind of equipment you needed for your particular style and pieces. And then later down you had to, for folks that were also maybe in line with the sustainability element.

Travis:

Yeah. And that was definitely part of, it was just the many factors that we've worked on for years. They don't really have this sensibility and focal point of this. They're more kind of behind the scenes and just focus on quality craftsmanship. So we've had to develop a lot of different, a lot of different things over the years in terms of trying out there's a lot of trial and error, which is one of the things having manufacturing in the United States and building things one at a time is a big advantage for that because we can try things out. We can prototype just today. I was, I was Googling, trying to figure out other natural materials that we can incorporate. And if we were to make that overseas and have to make them thousands at a time, it could be a bit more of a challenge. So that's definitely been something that I think that we have brought to the industry a little bit is the willingness to go outside the typical approach to materials and techniques.

Travis:

And in terms of finding the right niche and consumers out there, it's been interesting because we, the way we sort of view eco-friendly is two main tenants, what we call a healthy planet, healthy home. So the healthy planet is primarily about sustainability and thinking about using renewable resources the longevity and durability of the product in terms of life cycle know, are things going to be compostable down the line, all that. And then the healthy home is more about making sure that what we're putting into our homes is nontoxic, reducing harmful chemicals, all that. So there's a large ecosystem of considerations there. And it's interesting because some consumers are more focused on the sustainability element and that's what they're really trying to do. And that's what's resonating. And some of them are more about, Hey, this is, I want somebody to look pure, less harmful for my me and my family, that kind of thing. So it's sort of all encompassing ethos that we have around that over the years, we've found different organizations and designers and consumers that are focused on anywhere in that spectrum.

Erica:

Yeah. I think that you hit on something that I like to touch on when ever someone asks me, like, what does that really mean? Or what's an eco-friendly interior designer, or like, so what exactly does that look like? I like to say that, well, there's like the sustainability element. And then there is the human health and toxicity element and planet health as well, but there's like the health part. And then there's the sustainability part and those are not synonymous right now. Sometimes they can be. And, and often you will, where you find one, you'll find the other, but that's not always the case. And so that's interesting to me that you were seeing clients and customers either asking for one type of feature or one type of product or another, like you're probably getting different questions in your customer service inbox. And so I will actually love to hear an example. Well, actually I'd love to know what you get more of. It's my guess that it's going to be the toxicity and health elements.

Travis:

Yeah. And so when we initially started our main focal point, was this sustainability, like how can we protect our planet and then after resources, and then over the years I think that has been because that's, it's just more immediate, right? Your health, your home is something that you can kind of see in a more tangible way. And it's more short term. Yeah. And so it's a little bit harder, I think for people necessarily to think about furniture holistically on that kind of long term sustainability planet level. So we do try to coordinate both, but I'll, I think, I think you're right, generally speaking, that's probably the first way in, and then they can also learn a little bit more as we send them some literature and information about cinema elements as well.

Erica:

Absolutely. And so when I, in my prior career, I was an environmental science adjunct lecturer, the best way that I saw, like the connection and the lights go on. And the straight up engagement from my students was when I was talking about the human health element and seeing that light turn on of like how many aspects of environmentalism are directly related and like taking care of your planet is directly taking care of your body, your family, your home, your whatever, and that's classic, you know, knowledge and education processing is that you start with a student centered place-based personalized approach because that is how people learn. And that's how people get it. It's how people, they relate to the world through their own eyes. So you kind of have to start there and my findings and then branch out, even though in the past topics like saving the whale and saving the earth and climate change. And right now plastic exclusion does capture societal attention. It's much more tangible when there is like a piece that they really get internally, so to speak. So you started with the company called VSO, right?

Travis:

Correct. That's what it was called back then. And then we basically, over the years we started selling other brands as well. Most of them you go minded. So it was a sort of combination with our own collection, as well as maybe 50 other curated brands. And that became a little bit confusing with messaging and we really wanted to focus primarily on our own. And that's what we rebranded a few years ago with in 2016. And so that's, that's where we are now.

Erica:

Right. Okay. So I guess I want to know now what, like what part of eco-friendly interior design, since you're talking to any designer and for primarily, who's going to be listening to this, the designers and other professionals, what is important to you about green interiors and green products and materials, and what really inspired you to take that on in your company? Because I am sure that you got a lot of resistance and a lot of people or confusion, or just barriers in terms of like awareness and education. And so you really have to like commit to, as I did, like, I didn't necessarily start off branded in a particular way. And I kind of took any which project as I was building my portfolio. But as, as I moved through it, I also had to sort of make the decision and niche very specifically and take on only certain projects that I wasn't pushing my values onto other people. It was people that were open people that were interested in health and wellness and that kind of thing. So what was that like for you and what is so important to you about that you made it through those first, early years?

Travis:

Yeah. And to adjust the, what you mentioned it's, it is true. I mean, there are a lot of barriers to overcome and it is in some ways, a lot easier to compromise. I think we could easily go halfway and all of a sudden would bring our price point down probably, and maybe we open up your broad audience, but we knowing what we know and what our mission is in terms of making products that better for us to plan it. It just doesn't align with that. So we're, we're adamant about sticking with this and hopefully as the demand grows, that'll kind of help broaden the industry's perspective on this in terms of going back to why I think a lot of it has to do with maybe how my brother and I grew up, both of our parents were hippies back in the day and we kind of grew up with this focus on environmentalist.

Travis:

And even back when I was growing up in eighties, no, well before the outdoor days, and we just had this sensibility about it. And even you know, like my father, his career was working for the California government as an alternative energy specialist. So pushing narratives around policy, around alternative solar, solar power wind, all that. So that was a sort of framework that we had, I think. And so for us to try to bring that into business, didn't seem like a huge leap us as adults growing up in California and kind of shaped the way we view nature in particular, there's a lot of camping, a lot of outdoors growing up, sort of East of Sacramento. We grew up on just the foothills towards like tiles. So we were doing a lot of camping, redwoods, you know, you, somebody, all that kind of stuff growing up.

Travis:

And so I think that purity, that beauty also kind of helped put that in there, poor front of like, Hey, we're literally cutting down trees to take 40 years and then make him so flies out of that. Right? It's a finished product when you get into your home. And people don't think about the duration of time and the resources that are creating that. So for us, when I'm going away, I can like, get, this is all, this is literally like, what's not those exact trees obviously, but so it's just all that sort of thing combined for us to kind of have a more clear focus on if we're going to do furniture, we want to do it in this way that we think it is a more impactful and positive manner towards consumers and the planet.

Erica:

That's amazing. That's, I'm a little bit similar to my story. I grew up in a town that had a nature center and my parents just in, especially my mom would install in instill in me the value and love and curiosity towards nature and animals. And so I was up at little nature center a lot. We were doing things in nature, which was great. I'm appreciating that animals of all kinds. And I think that that had a lot to do with laying the groundwork. And that is also some of the reasons that I, in my previous life, I got into environmental education because I wanted to pass that on to other people. So that is a great story and gives us a little bit of insight. Okay. So this is going to be a little bit different for you. So you can answer this however you want, but I've been asking people like, what are your top three ways to go green when you are working on a project? So in some cases that's an interior design project or decorating project in your case, that's going to be in basically putting new products out onto the market. So what are your top three ways as a supplier that you like to incorporate eco-friendliness in one way or another into your work?

Travis:

Yes. And that does, it does definitely apply to us. Right? Cause we kind of have to think of certain principles. There are a lot of decisions that we do make in terms of what goes into our products, even beyond the design. So sort of like a few key buckets, I would say first one is generally speaking, trying to use more natural materials at first that could seem counterintuitive because you're utilizing resources, but if you do it responsibly, then you can actually respect the larger ecosystem and ongoing, keep it a little bit more of a self fulfilling cycle there. So that's the first one. So that, for example, for us, we use natural latex on all of our, obviously any upholstered goods. We have sofas, sectionals, they can be produced with natural latex and roll instead of the typical all year thing. And with those sort of like what we call it kind of like extreme green versions, it's a hundred percent natural to inside out.

Travis:

We're using Jude reason, organic hot, all those elements, including fabrics. So that's one element. So that not only is it healthier for consumers, but 30 years from now, when it ends up in the landfill, it's going to be gonna be able to decompose. So the second one is actually around that 30 year Mark that I mentioned, let's say, so durability is really a big, a big push for us. There's a, I think I've been a trend more in the last 20, 30 years, especially with like kind of overseas manufacturing to focus on almost like fast furniture. It's like fast fashion. And we really don't want to treat furniture as disposable where it's just something you have for a few years and then you move and you just toss it or, or just falls apart. So that's another thing is really thinking about the craftsmanship and techniques that are needed to make something that, I mean, these sofas were building the last a lifetime. They last forever we've as we've already been doing this 15 years and we get customers that email us, they're like, Hey, about this back in 2006. We're great.

Erica:

Absolutely. And before you tell me that third one, I would just have to wonder like that then almost makes your job even harder when you're pulling in the stylistic elements and the actual design of the piece. Because if you're like, okay, this will literally last you 20, 30 years, you then have to think about like classic and timeless design that can transition like through trending phases and the D home design and decor world experiences cycles, and like tenure trends and things like that. Just like every, just like fashion and really everything else, hairstyles, whatever. So that must be actually like an extra layer for you guys. You can't just do what's it in right now, although you, although you certainly can add elements into each piece, but you kind of have to think longterm as well of on that in the style.

Travis:

Yeah. I mean, I would say that that is consideration out and generally people and, you know, our designs actually are a little bit more timeless in that sense. We're not trying to hit, you know, current trends that might look out of fashion in a few years, that kind of thing. So we tried to incorporate designs that are a little bit, there are a clean and minimalist, but also not too modern. So we want to try to allow it to kind of breathe within a lot of different styles. So we do a lot of work with positional, even more like traditional or contemporary, like all within that role. I think it works. And then, you know, let's say you do need to sell it in a few years because he moved and I need a sectional. It's going to hold up, it's going to have value. So you can actually resell it for a decent amount. And I see it all the time where people will sell our pieces, you know, the buy for $4,000. And then a few years later, their self like 1500. So obvious you're not going to get the full money back, but I think more than other brands, it is a bit of an investment upfront on. So it does cost more, but I'm beyond the comfort durability. You're actually buying something that does hold its value in that way.

Erica:

Definitely. Okay. Lay the third one on us. Okay.

Travis:

The third one I think is, is sort of related to the first one, but it's just, I think the focus on the chemicals is a big one that we're constantly working through. So even if it's not just the natural element we are focusing on, even if I'd say it's synthetic, right? So if it's like a polyester fiber or something like that, we'll go through and be pretty strict in terms of who we're going to source it from. If an, if it's you know, let's say like, yeah, like a polyester fabric and it's really durable and suitable for commercial projects or for the home, we still don't want extra this notes, you know, probably return and sprayed on there. No stain repellents are going to be really harsh. All the glues that we're using are, are zero VOC. We're using natural beeswax for finished.

Travis:

So we're trying to kind of like simplify things and get back to a little bit more of a kind of period. I think the way a lot of things were probably made 50 years ago, it was like more like a real craft. I think that's a big focus for us. And then toggling between the, you know, the, the two worlds of healthy planet, healthy home. It is interesting. There aren't necessarily always, there's not always necessarily one right answer for which material to use. So let me give you a quick example in general, as you know, like synthetic fabrics do hold up longer than like, let's say like on an organic, something like that. So we may have a client that wants to do all natural. He's a natural apex, but they have three kids and a dog and the thing is going to get destroyed. And so on top of that, then we'll layer a polyester base fabric. One that was that we've kind of sourced responsibly, but that they may be a little bit counter to, to people. But at the end of the day, that's going to make that product last a lot longer. And that for us is that's a fair compromise that, Hey look, maybe they would rather do all natural, but in this case, having that blend actually is going to be most suitable for the lifestyle and create a longer life cycle for that product. So

Erica:

Totally. And if you can make something last longer, you're essentially creating less demand for, I mean, let alone the end of life cycle, like Californians grew up with a very strong understanding and foundation in, in waste and landfills and recycling and so on. But also the piece I like to constantly remind people is just the straight up demand for new version resources. So if you, so yeah, then the life cycle, but then right at the end, there's a beginning for something else. If you can create less demand for new wood and the energy it takes in the, in the factory and the water and the fibers 100%, I think that's a really good point. And you touched on something else, which is that all I know through my undergrad, my graduate and all the work I've done since is there is no magic pill. There's not in any industry when we're talking about going green and a society globally of seven plus billion, there is no, and the structures and foundations we have in place now, we're just doing the best we can within what we've got.

Erica:

And so you gotta start somewhere. And so having a poly blend is going to make something last longer and make the client happy and you've sourced it responsibly and it's not sprayed with anything harmful to those kids and dog. Then you've done a great thing and you've served that client really well. So yes, the life cycle is extended. There is less demand for new resources and newer furniture and everyone's happy and you've still got them. You've got that toe in the door now with that client and, and with future clients and people that they refer and all that kind of thing. So it's this like dynamic moving ecosystem and it's not black. The thing about like, when we talk about green is it's not black and white shades of green.

Travis:

Yes, no, it definitely is true. When we found that too, over the years, as we, as we've evolved and as new materials come about, we gotta kind weigh the different levels of impact, short term, long term, all that

Erica:

I think, as long as you do that with intentionality and integrity, then you're miles ahead of everyone else. And we want to bring everyone else along with us. So, so that's great. Okay. So what would you like to see in terms of the industry as a whole going green? And this could be on the customer side, the design professional side, or the maker side, whatever you want.

Travis:

Yeah. I mean, within the third trade role, it's been interesting. I think there is more knowledge and demand why times for commercial projects. And so, you know, if something's trying to achieve the certification, if it's a hotel restaurant, hotel lobby, we get specified for those a lot because there's a built in understanding infrastructure around that and certification. It's not as I feel like it's still not as much as it's understood in demand on the residential side for designers. And so that would be something I think that I'm hoping to see more of is being able to have the language around the customer, don't understand the benefit of paint a little bit more for this thing. Yes. Instead of a $1,500 sofa, ours costs 2100 or something like that. And so it's going to be more, but is that over the course of five years, is the extra $500 going to be worth it? I think it is.

Erica:

We know it is because you're able to hang onto that piece for longer. It's just like fast fashion and that's something people are a little bit more familiar with. I could buy the really cheap thing from forever 21 or whatever, and not sew them under the bus specifically, but, and wear it a few times before it instantly has a hole or shrank or the thread came out or like whatever. And then I have to replace that item or I just buy a ton more than I would need with a regular, like a high quality item. So it's overcoming that barrier of the short term versus long term savings. And so we are genetically biologically wired to think about our short term benefit, just like the way our brain works. So it's having to like come out of your lizard brain and think about with your evolved brain and think like, well actually, yeah, it'll save me what, however many hundreds, a few hundred dollars now, but in the longterm it's a great investment. And then if you want to go bigger than that, it's a health investment, which is the longest term asset that you, that you have

Travis:

For sure. Yeah. And so sometimes that's the one, the interesting thing is just the role of certifications and structures and organizations from that. I'm so thankful that they are doing what they do, but also I found it challenging as a, as a maker it's can be cost prohibitive. It can be really difficult in terms of all the different variables that we have involved to get things classified correctly. So I was, there is a little bit easier, more tenable way for more companies who be incentivized to do that, because that's just one more barrier that I feel like the, obviously we're coming to two. So that's, we'll, we'll overcome that. But if, if you're kind of in between maybe like, you know, it's just not worth it. I don't understand all that. It's too technical. It's going to cost me thousands of dollars and take me years to get all this pushed through. I wish there was a little bit something a little bit set up that it could kind of shepherd companies through that process and make that a little bit more attainable.

Erica:

Well, that brings up an interesting question. Are you guys reaching for any certifications or even if not a certification in association or organization, or like where are your fingers in the pies?

Travis:

Yeah. so yeah, so like we did our HBD recently and we submitted those. And so we basically got cost

Erica:

Play for folks listening. That's a health product declaration.

Travis:

And so we basically got certified as being like counting towards lead certification. We can't get lead certified or R or cells within that, but so that's good for the kind of commercial projects doesn't necessarily apply to, or is it actual, but it gives you some sense of the stringency that we have on that we generally, our main focal point is to work with specific, you know, like wool that's certified or cotton source that that's certified. So we kind of rely on the materials that we're using to do that work and then know that that's going to contribute to the overall impact that we have. We've also tried to get out of the cortico. That was a while back with, I think Google has like a whole work that's sort of trying to focus on green materials, being sourced and all that. But there are there aren't like a ton out there that is for finished product guys. It's more for the materials I would say. So I would like to be something like, I can submit this, here's a finished sofa and here's some sort of a level or some sort of achievement that we've based on all the other pieces that we've put into that I don't like the cradle to cradle and which is a whole nother, Oh, what's a possible to achieve. I think we can do it, but again, that's like, it's really costly.

Erica:

Sure. Okay. So there's cradle to cradle, which it sounds like you're considering. And then I wonder, are you part of the sustainable furnishings council?

Travis:

Yes, we are. We don't think we are listed on there. There is sustainable minds, which is an other group that we're on. So we're on a few of those kind of a network.

Erica:

Yeah. And then lastly, a great one coming out well is out and I have to do my, you know, my part, my duty and say, check out mindful materials. We had a representative on this show and it is what you would be such a great fit. It is also a search platform for specifiers, but also it really helps kind of like how we're talking about the wild West world of certifications. And, and you can like, you know, make one here, you might have one certification here or for one piece and here it kinda like helps bridge the gap. And it helps put those characteristics into a platform that's easily identifiable on searchable and cohesive. And so I am very excited about mindful materials in their work. So there we go. I have done my, I have done my them, but yeah, this is something that's very interesting and that I would like to see for this industry as well as a little bit more cohesion and groups talking to each other and refine groups and all working together, getting something a little bit more streamlined together because it can be confusing.

Erica:

And right now that is something that us as specifiers designers, buyers have to be aware of all the different certifications and like kind of understand what they mean. And then, you know, put that in our knowledge bank for when a particular kind of client or project comes around and be like, okay, which one is going to work for this project? And that's like part of, like, I always say it's like part, what I do is part science, part art. And it's like mixed up in this stew and outcomes, my personal method on how I approach incorporating green and eco-friendly pieces into projects. So yeah, I'm with you on that. That's the doozy there is getting that all in order would be ideal. And then I would like to know if like what positive changes you have seen recently so we can lift ourselves up.

Travis:

Yeah. I would say one thing that I haven't seen sort of from a material standpoint is a lot of bigger brands finally using FSC certified woods, at least for us, that's sort of like the basic kind of level. Like that's like a foundation then you've got to deal with all the other layers, but at least that's something that you know, all the studies show, the, one of the biggest impacts we can have in terms of reversing climate change is planting trees. Right? And so that's the most literal version of that I think is like, Hey, we're taking this from earth. Let's try to make sure that it's harder said properly and put back and more abundance than seemingly simple thing. But you know, when the main incentive of most companies and capitalism is just profit, profit profit, that doesn't always come naturally to a lot of people.

Travis:

And so I've been encouraged at least I think most brands are starting with that as a foundation, I would say. And another thing is, interestingly y'all mentioned, the fast fashion element is sort of like a corollary or like the negative approach. I think fashion also is I think a little bit ahead or furniture with its sustainable practices and thinking about interesting, innovative materials and stuff, being a little bit more modernized with technology and all that kind of stuff. So that's been encouraging, I think, because I think will open up not only it will motivate furniture and home goods brands, but also will make more awareness for customers to things outside of food, like, you know, organic fruit, that kind of thing. So

Erica:

100%, I couldn't agree with you more. I think it all contributes to a social collective consciousness and a rising tide lifts all boats. So, yeah, and I referenced like the agricultural movement and the fashion movement a lot moving in both of those industries, there was a collective slow beginning of education and awareness and people noticing things weren't quite right. And then people, you know, scientists studying it and makers changing and consumers questioning and starting to demand other things. And it was this and until it was like pretty much a small revolution in both of those industries now, does that mean that conventional agriculture and big ag and chemical industry, and does that mean that, you know, fast fashion and big box stores, aren't 100% thriving. Oh, they sure are. And we have a long way to go, but now people know a that there's a problem and B that they have a choice. And I think that is so important when I was, you know, studying and all that kind of stuff. I was a big top down kind of girl. So I was like all about the regulation and the laws and policies and that's what we need. But over time I see how important it is to have the grassroots efforts and the conversations like we're having today to get the collective shift, to persuade the powers that be to do something a bit different. And so that's what comes up for me when I think about that.

Travis:

Yeah, it's old a lot as you vote, people vote with their dollars in that sense. And so it is true. And then that, that demand is what's going to force, you know, like I love the recent example of the impossible meats possible burger now at burger King, which to me is like, incredible. Did that happen so quickly? But it's all like, what were we got to get in on this? Because this is where things are heading. And that was only created from wasn't like a regulation, unfortunately there was within, so they gag, it was like customer proving that we're willing to do this if the product's there. So within years of now all of a sudden that's, it could totally ask a lot of the major big companies is one that kind of,

Erica:

It seems kind of quickly before I forget when we mentioned like the basic being a FSC woods. So forest street, stewardship, council certified, there's a lot of acronyms in this world, but for those who are like trying to learn a little bit more about how to be greener in your own projects, that's that's a great place to start and thing to Google and look at. And then funny story about impossible burger. I was that like, I don't, I don't want fat burger. That's a chain down here. I don't know if you know what, and I ordered the impossible burger. I was like, great, I'm going to try it. I'm so excited. I've tried every other vegan option under the sun. I vegan a lot of the time, most of the time and I get it. And I also ordered like a water bottle and they forgot to give that to me.

Erica:

And so I was like, and then I got the burger and I was like, man, these guys gave me the wrong burger and didn't give me the water. And so I went up and I was like, I think you get, I was eating it. Like I ate it. It was delicious. I was like, who cares? I'm just gonna eat this cheeseburger. And I ate it. And I was like, it's no big deal. I eat it. But you gave me the wrong burger and they straight up laughed in my face and we're like, no, that's just how it tastes. It's just, it's real. It didn't give you the wrong one. It's vegetarian. And I just like, didn't believe them at all, but I didn't want to argue. So I was just like, okay. And then I like went outside and Googled. I was like, is it really that?

Travis:

Yeah, yeah. I was looking on like, yeah, I guess this kind of goes back to what you mentioned the very beginning of the conversation where we don't, you wouldn't necessarily know that our products are eco friendly. That's not necessarily something that you can ascertain just by looking at it. We want to make sure the product is still desirable. And in this case for a possible Pastebin Ross, it's comfortable. It looks great stylish. And it also happens to incorporate the values that we instill. So that's been really focused on

Erica:

That's exactly right. And I listened to the podcast, how I built this, is that what it's called? Yeah. And the, the owner of, Oh no, that shoe company that makes a MI the Kiwi company that makes amazing little shoes. That's Australia. I can't confuse them. Or they get really mad.

Erica:

I don't know, flywheel. I don't even know what it's called. I don't know where Flywell came from, but you know what I meant. Okay. People don't buy ecofriendly shoes, they buy attractive, comfortable shoes. And if they're ecofriendly, that's great. And I do think that the same thing applies to where we are at, at, now in this industry and others. But I am curious because I just recorded an episode with someone and it came up that I have found that a lot of companies hide their ecofriendly or sustainable ethics standards practices in order to not like brand or niche themselves as too granola, as too expensive as to whatever it is they think they're trying to get away from some sort of perceived barrier to entry. And I just want to know, like, what you think about that and how we can like, let them know that that's not cool because I have like specifically done some Google searches and be like, let's go from the company that I can source XYZ from and I'll get the link. And then I'll go to the site. And I look at the site and there's no, no information whatsoever. And then I'm like, well, are they even where they miscategorized and on this list and they shouldn't be, or are they but I have been talking to other green designers. We're finding that a lot of companies are kind of, if not hiding, not promoting.

Travis:

Yeah. It's yeah. It's been something we've struggled with a little bit in terms of how much to make that top line messaging we've toggled back and forth because right now the demand is pretty small. You can type in eco-friendly furniture, non-toxic furniture. And I know I w I can look at Google. I know what the search terms are. We rank on the first page for that. We're a tiny company. It is, but also shows you how little people actually searching for that. And so we've gone back and forth over the years and heard, like how maybe we don't want to overwhelm people with that and make them feel some sort of sense of like guilt, or maybe they think it's going to be like a price point they can't afford. Or at the end of the day, like we want to, we do want to be more out front with that in the last five years in particular, we've shifted more towards, I think just being a, that, and making that more clear about our mission and most studies show that especially younger generations, now they do want to buy products and be associated with brands that have values that they care about.

Travis:

So even beyond price consideration and the style consideration, anything they're going to buy, they really do like, feel like there's some transparency. There there's some authenticity, there's some, a larger mission that's beyond just, this is a cool thing to buy. And so I think where we are right now is a good place to be. And I would encourage all the companies to try to rally around that and be a little bit more fraught with it without being only pigeonholed as that. I think it is important to still make sure that you're giving a Bible, that people are going to be excited about it because when you're using something every day, like someone's sitting on a sofa, right? Like they're not thinking about, well, this was made from organic cotton and made from SS FSE. Like, yes, that's part of it. The thing maybe they are excited about and gives them some fulfillment by like the end of the day, you're sitting on this thing every day. And it's, it's gotta be functional. You've gotta be in love with it from a day to day perspective as well.

Erica:

Yeah. That's fair enough. Okay. Well, I think my last question for you is what's next for you guys on the horizon. And like, if there's anything else we haven't covered, you really want us to know about medley and what you guys are.

Travis:

I think for us, it's, it's a matter of trying to get beyond and agree. We're having to reach a broader audience. I think we do really well with designers and consumers that are already pretty new to this role of sustainability and ecofriendly. And so that's the biggest push for us over the next kind of three years is to reach that broad audience in the same way that someone like method cleaning did right. They went from being this kind of small niche thing and all of a sudden then their target, and now they've got their product on the shelf and in homes all over the world. And that was a big shift for them. So similarly, I think that's, that's a lot of what we're going to try to do, and that's going to be around you know, I think doing a better job of telling our story in a more emotional way, kind of bring this world to life. People just don't necessarily understand. I think a lot of what goes into making furniture, obviously the material reason, all of that stuff. So kind of bring that, bring that to life. And I think in a cohesive and meaningful way is going to be what we're really focused on as well as, you know, product rollouts and just making sure that we can kind of hit a little bit broad lines from that as well, and not be a little bit more narrow where I think we are now stylistically. So

Erica:

Just that you've got big dreams. That's what you said. You said I want to be in target. That'd be great.

Travis:

Oh, sure. I mean, similar sort of thing where we wanted ways to do to make what we're doing, not niche anymore and not specialty. We don't want to be this what we're doing to be the norm. And that's the only way to get there. We'll say. And also I mentioned, you know, in terms of the world of designers, we do everything is made to order me one at a time. So if anyone ever has this for specific sizing or style requests that we can change the arm size, you can become whatever it is to the ants. And so that's something that, yeah, we'll continue to focus on that. That's one of the big advantages of building in the U S one at a time instead of at mass overseas, is that we can basically take any project someone has, and we can for the most part fulfill that. So,

Erica:

Right. No, I think I told you that was the last question, but I just thought of one more. So I'm going to sneak it in. I'll tell you in a minute, what I think the answer to this question is, but first I'll start with the question in your production, in the factory or wherever it is the production shop. I am also curious. So the end product is great. I'm curious, in terms of the manufacturing, have you found any ways to go green in your operations?

Travis:

Yeah. So that's initiative we're trying to push on right now. I mean, a lot of it is just literally just the materials that we're using and we don't have a lot of waste because everything's made to order. So we don't have like a lot of inventory just sitting around where it's like, Oh, that didn't sell. I guess we just download, we're going to dump it or whatever. So I think we're pretty, pretty efficient in terms of the introducing the materials, but we're also are doing a big initiative this year to figure out ways to use scratch. Essentially. Like we do have little pieces of big texts that are that are, are build they're basically like almost like kind of set aside or discarded now, or like a third of a yard of fabric that wasn't used because of the shape of the arm or something like that.

Travis:

So trying to figure out a way to utilize those materials for other products, they're going to be smaller and more kind of entry-level pieces. That's a, that's a big one for us. I think we're gonna find some utility in that, which I think will be kind of a fun. And for us it's a good, good way to try out new product categories that we're not necessarily focused on because all of a sudden you have a different set of materials and parameters to work with. So like, Oh, what can I make from this? It's like forces us to kind of be more creative with that as well.

Erica:

I love that. That is such a good ambition for you guys this year. And my answer to that question was going to be well, you're made in the U S and any time you can do that, you're kind of heading a couple birds with one stone, which I've talked about in previous episodes for you guys. But one is literally just the carbon footprint in transporting something from overseas to the fact that it's here on us soil. It really cuts down that travel heart of that footprint, that carbon footprint. And so socioeconomically responsible, we have a little bit better conditions here for some of the workers then abroad. And so that is a plus and should, is a conversation that's always like tangental to the ecofriendly conversations because there are humans behind production and behind installation and all that kind of stuff. So I would just answer my own question with that.

Travis:

Even beyond that. I mean, given that it's in the U S we visit our, our, my T and L is there weekly couple times a week? It's we have like an office basically in there in the facility. And so we can keep a really close eye and make sure that they're actually fulfilling as they say, if you're making overseas, like in theory, that could maybe be using some products, they actually aren't specifying. And it's hard to know when you get this chair we're there, we see them making it. And we go around on the floor constantly to make sure everything's on point. And even from the quality we can, we can up our level of craftsmanship and kind of hold, hold our team accountable for those things. So it's yeah, like holistically, we, yes, it becomes more expensive. But if for us given the larger vision, it makes sense that everything here stateside,

Erica:

And I think the last thing I'll say, especially because we touched on cost a little bit in longterm, mr. Short term savings and certain things like latex costs, organic, natural latex costing a little bit more. That's the number one question I get from people on a budget, which is a lot of, which has all of, you know, it's everyone. So the number one question is, okay, but does it cost more in some episodes I've had chats where it's like, well, actually some things are quite competitive and some things are on par. Some things are the same, but how I explain it is like, okay, in the, in the design industry, you can go as extensive as you want and never have any, any green element to it whatsoever. So like this other designer wants a really long time ago, told me she sourced a $30,000 ashtray.

Erica:

Now that is what aggressive waste wasteful wealth right there. And I will never forget that 30 grand ashtray, but so, you know, and to lesser extremes as well, you can, I can find you a very expensive XYZ by a very fancy designer, and it's a limited edition and whatever, and it has zero green elements. So it's all relative. And again, that's where that like secret sauce comes in for every one, every designer doing it, how they're approach it and like, okay, well what where are we going to spend the money within the budget? And how does that work in with the style and the pieces and, and the sustainability and non toxicity. So it's kind of like this shape-shifting alive organism that you're like working with in, in creating a project that is going to come to life for someone. So, yeah. So I hope in terms of costs, that that is no longer in the near short term, that that is no longer a perceived barrier to entry because people are making things that are really competitive.

Erica:

And I'm so excited to hear you say that you're gonna maybe dabble into like the world of scrap materials or reusing things off the cutting room floor. Cause I've seen some really cool things from other makers like countertop manufacturers, being able to incorporate there's these beautiful counters that have scrap metals set back into hard material. And there's this beautiful, like sparkly that almost have like a quartz like finished and same thing with like glass, like recycled glass into countertop. So I definitely think that there's something to that, and that is very exciting and I will be exploring your pages.com and then your future. I think I have just about used up all our time, but where is one place that we can reach out to you? It should, we need to,

Travis:

Oh, I'm not that person. I would say on online. Like that's like, like Republic. I don't know. I don't use Twitter. I have an Instagram. It's not really, I don't use it. So I would say general you know, terms of our company, all of our social handles are Hello Medley, medleyhome.com is our web address. But if anyone ever wants to reach out to me, they can just email me directly travis@medleyhome.com. I'd be happy to answer any questions, engage in any conversation, if you have any insights, feedback, questions, whatever. I'm okay.

Erica:

That's perfect. And I don't have Twitter either, so yeah,

Travis:

Off the grid.

Erica:

Okay. Well, thank you so much for your time today. I think there was a lot in this that people can dig into and hopefully reach out to one of us and learn a little bit more. And yeah, you guys are a favorite of mine. I have a coffee table in production now for a client, which we've been emailing about. And so that's great. That's common. And can't wait to see it and thank you again so much.

Travis:

No, thank you. I appreciate this is a lot of fun. Thanks. Okay. Take care."



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