Interview by House of Home
You may have heard of the sensational Sydney based homeware retailer Icon Homeware? Well, Icon By Design is their latest factory-direct boutique venture. And, if you want to find your “perfect piece” to put the finishing touches to your home renovation then, you’ve found it.
With a commitment to source top-quality, beautifully crafted furniture at genuinely affordable prices, Icon By Design’s pieces don’t compromise on style when it comes to price.
We couldn’t resist finding out more about how this was possible so, we caught up with co-founder David Light.
It’s a terrific name, how did you settle on Icon By Design?
The business model for Icon By Design has the following characteristics:
- Timeless, Modern Design. Timeless design is the core to product selection and sourcing – by this we mean that our customers will still be happy with their purchase in 10 years time – parallels regarding timeless design are George Jensen, Scandinavian designers, etc.
- High-End Craftsmanship and Quality. We have selected suppliers based on their ability to produce excellent craftsmanship – well made, commercial quality, designed to last decades, not years.
- Unbeatable Prices and Value. Our direct sourcing model allows us to cut out the middlemen – no premium for the brand owner, and no local wholesaler. We are therefore able to deliver exceptional value, and unbeatable prices.
In light of the above, we felt that we required the word Design in our name, and we carried the Icon element forward from Icon Homeware. Of course, we needed to find a name that we could register and get the web site URL for. Fortunately, we were able to do this for Icon By Design.
David, what did you do prior to Icon By Design launching?
It’s a long story! I have an engineering degree and a MBA and extensive business experience. My most recent role was CEO, NSW at IMA Management & Consulting, an IT services company. I have held senior management roles at a number of IT companies since 2000 and my roles ranged from CEO to head of sales. I developed a warehouse management system (called WarehouseManager) at a company I owned, Tritech Systems, which was sold in Australia to companies such as Australia Post, Canon, as well as the UK and USA.
It sounds like you were incredibly successful in the corporate world. Why start your own business?
The original business, Icon Homeware, was started four years ago with my son, Adam. I was involved part-time and Adam was the driving force behind the business. I completed my last role at IMA Management & Consulting in late 2014. After listening to our customers at Icon Homeware and seeing what they wanted from a home and furniture retailer, we developed the business plan for Icon By Design. The plan was to launch this new business model in 2015 and I decided to make this my full-time focus. Adam has a Masters degree in finance and his passion is in providing exceptional products and service to customers – hence the start up of the original store, Icon Homeware.
We find that when our customers understand our business model they appreciate why we can provide beautiful, well-made furniture at a compelling price. We guarantee the lowest price, while providing curated designer products. This is an unusual scenario.
Is it just yourself and Adam or do you employ other staff?
We have a small and very efficient team of four full time staff and engage outsource expert services for our digital marketing and warehousing. My role focuses on the technical and financial sides of the business. Adam’s responsibility is for the operations and customer service side of the business. We then have a Head of Buying, who looks after product curation and selection and an Operations Manager who focuses on exceptional customer service.
What’s an average day at work for you involve, David?
No two are really ever the same. Understanding how we are doing with meeting customer expectations, reviewing the accounting system to manage purchasing and accounts reconciliation, reviewing of the web site and improvements that we have in process; liaise with our digital marketing partners. We focus on excelling at everything we do, so we have a strong focus on automated processes, freeing up our time to best service our customers.
How long would a customer expect to wait for their purchase to be delivered after placing their order and do you deliver nationwide?
Yes, we ship nationwide and offer our customers two options when purchasing.
1) Buy Now – in this case we dispatch the goods from the warehouse the same day, provided the order is placed before 10am. Our warehouse is located in Sydney, and the delivery time is dependent on the logistics to the customer.
2) Pre-Order – in this case, a customer can expect their delivery within 4 to 10 weeks from placing the order. With this option, we offer the fantastic value of a further 20% discount off the already low price, which is the saving we make in warehousing costs.
It’s obvious your customer service is exceptional, tell us a little about this.
This is a core mantra of the business and reflected in the customer reviews we receive at Icon By Design and our sister store, Icon Homeware. We have a 99.8% eBay rating and a 5 star rating on the independent review site, Yotpo. We provide customer support through a 1300 number, email contact, a chat facility on our web store and we can be contacted via social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
We read that your mission is to make ones dream interior a reality! Tell us about this.
We launched Icon By Design with a small selection of designer Scandinavian furniture, based on customer requests and feedback on our sister store, Icon Homeware. We continuously listen to our customers and make our product selection based on this feedback and alignment with our “Timeless, Modern Design” mantra. We have now expanded our range to almost 100 products that are consistent with this requirement. We don’t currently plan to have one-offs made, but rather understand our clients’ requests and align this to our curation and sourcing strategy.
What’s your most popular product with customers?
Our Scandinavian designer tables are very popular, with matching chairs. We have these products at exceptional prices points, considering the quality of craftsmanship and our focus on using only solid wood.
Above image, Icon By Design Magnus Solid Oak Dining Table-240cm. This is a solid American Oak table, beautifully designed and built. They come in a range of sizes from 1.8m to 2.8m in length and widths of 90cm and 100cm.
Above image, Icon By Design Magnus Dining Table – Solid Walnut. This is a solid American Walnut table, beautifully designed and built, with a most lovely colour. They come in a range of sizes from 1.8m to 2.4m in length and width of 100cm. This table has a wonderful look and feel.
One of customers told us that they purchased this after viewing equivalent products at other retailers that cost around $9,000. Solid wood Walnut is relatively expensive, so our price point at $2,700 for Buy Now and $2,160 for Pre-order is quite exceptional.
Personally, what’s your favourite product and why?
I love the walnut products – we’re planning to have the 2.4 m dining table at home. They are beautifully finished, a lovely brown colour – not too dark, with clarity of grain.
What is Icon By Design next focusing on?
Our current focus is on European design that is very clean looking, using solid wood construction. Colour is an interesting consideration. Our most popular colours are shades of grey, with orange and turquoise also selling well. We often recommend neutral colours for the sofas, using accessories to inject colour into the scheme.
What’s your uniqueness compared to other furniture stores in the industry?
We think our core business proposition is clear on this. Exceptional value, timeless design and beautiful craftsmanship. Combine this with exceptional customer service and we think this differentiates us from other retailers. Furthermore, we offer 6 months interest free financing, which makes the purchase of bigger ticket items easier.
The team at House of home would like to thank David from Icon By Design for his time and sharing with us more about his successful furniture company