Ukrainian fur­ni­ture com­pany starts with Hr 2,000, builds pop­u­lar brand

Kyiv Post - - Lifestyle - BY TOMA I STOMINA IS­TOM­[email protected]

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.

Pro­duc­tion con­cepts

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)

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