Ukrainian furniture company starts with Hr 2,000, builds popular brand
When the founders of Ukrainian company Drommel Furniture started their business they had such a small budget they needed to work with pre-owned tools. Four years later, they have become one of the most famous furniture manufacturers in Ukraine.
Drommel Furniture follows the Scandinavian style — their products are minimalistic and aesthetic, but also designed to be practical.
Their small operation manufactures up to 1,200 pieces of furniture per month, which they sell online and in their showroom.
“We chose the Scandinavian direction because there was nothing like that in our country at the time,” the brand’s co-founder Dmytro Fedchenko told the Kyiv Post. “Our products were completely different from what the market offered to the consumer.”
Fedchenko, 25, and his business partner Oleksandr Solovei, 26, were classmates. They have known each other since they were around 10-years-old.
They got a taste for entrepreneurship back in their school days when the two opened an amateur photo studio.
“Sasha [Solovei] was into photography and I decided that we can make some good money on it,” Fedchenko said.
After graduation in 2009, the friends parted ways — Fedchenko worked for his family’s business and Solovei was engaged in creating light show displays. However, this wasn’t for long. In 2014, when Solovei was trying to find a modern couch made of wooden pallets for his home, he decided to construct it himself and reached out to his friend for help.
“It all started with my own need,” Solovei said.
The two made a couch and a table, but thought of it as nothing but entertainment. But when they posted pictures of their products online, friends liked it and wanted to buy their furniture so the two started taking orders.
When the demand exceeded supply, the partners decided to start a brand and scale the production.
During the first year and a half, both Solovei and Fedchenko kept on manufacturing furniture themselves as they built up their new business.
“We painted, sawed, drilled, welded. We're just handy guys,” Fedchenko said.
However, the friends were not familiar with some of the crafts — so they learned how to process metal and use a welding machine from video lessons on YouTube.
They say their starting budget was around Hr 2,000, or $72, so they couldn’t afford to purchase modern equipment for production.
“We bought old tools from various people working in their garages and fixed them,” Fedchenko said.
They say that their first clients helped find their style, as their orders gave them an understanding of what people couldn’t find in Ukraine’s furniture market.
Their first products created under the Drommel brand were a coffee table and a bar stool combining metal and wooden parts.
And the Scandinavian design influenced the brand’s name: The co-founders searched for a name for their company and set their eyes on the word “drømmen,” which in Danish means “dream.”
By mistake, the co-founders confused the word and named their brand Drommel, so it turned out to be a Danish dream with a Ukrainian twist.
Today, Drommel’s team is about 30 people with around half of them involved in the production, which takes place at the brand’s workshop in the Kyiv suburbs.
The company offers all kinds of furniture: beds, couches, armchairs, poufs, various tables, nightstands, stools, clothes rails, shelves and some decor.
“It (furniture) is so non-binding visually that it matches any internal design,” Solovei said.
And Drommel’s products are designed to be practical, too. Their sofa table, for instance, while standing on its legs on the floor, “hugs” a couch, so that a person can use it for placing a laptop or anything else and use it while sitting on the couch in comfort.
Apart from their own website and showroom, the brand sells its products through e-commerce retailers and at a couple of offline stores.
They say their customers are mostly private individuals but they get plenty of orders from businesses too. Drommel’s products furnish the rooms of such enterprises as Oh My Look dress showroom, Milk Bar and One Love Coffee cafes, TsUM shopping mall, Dragon Capital investment company and others.
Their products have also been ordered by customers from England, the Netherlands and France. But because the shipping of their heavy furniture is costly, the company doesn’t focus on selling abroad yet. However, the most motivated customers still get to order their furniture.
And Drommel is thoughtful not only about their designs but also the environmental consequences of their production.
Solovei and Fedchenko say that their company supports sustainability, which is why they use certified materials and send all the plastic wraps and cardboard used for packaging to recycling firms.
The business partners say they don’t want to contribute to the planet’s ecological disaster.
“It is very scary, it’s a global problem…that we need to fight,” Fedchenko said.
The co-founders of Drommel Furniture say they don’t plan too far ahead, as they focus on their customers’ needs and the company’s development depends on them.
However, they are determined to remain focused on their goals.
“Going beyond the usual, we are improving the quality of life with simple solutions,” the partners said.
Prices: coffee table — Hr 2,690– 3,190, clothes rail — Hr 1,990–3,390, couch — Hr 21,900
Purchase Drommel Furniture at their showroom in Kyiv (2D Heroiv Stalinhrada St.), at Vsi Svoi store (34 Khreshchatyk St.) or online at www. drommel.com.ua.
The co-founders of Ukrainian company Drommel Furniture Oleksandr Solovei (L) and Dmytro Fedchenko talk to the Kyiv Post at their brand's showroom in Kyiv on Nov. 21. (Kostyantyn Chernichkin)