Following a 3 month search for the perfect Scandi yellow chair, scouring vintage and antique dealers around London, Sandrine Zhang Ferron realised there was a need for an online marketplace for like minded people to search vintage furniture – without traipsing across the capital for weeks on end.
As of the end of 2018, over 100,000 different pieces of furniture, lighting and decorative objects were available on Vinterior. And this number continues to grow. In less than three years, the Marketplace has grown into a community of over 1,700 independent furniture dealers worldwide offering over 25 styles, including Mid-Century, Art Deco, Retro, Modern Scandinavian, Shabby Chic, Bauhaus, Industrial, Boho, Rustic, British, French, Italian and Chinese Antiques… to name few.
We caught up with Co-founder & CEO Sandrine Zhang Ferron for the full story:
Tell us what led to you to set up Vinterior, when did your love of vintage begin?
When I moved to my current home, I wanted to fill it with characterful, but well made, furniture. In particular, I was looking for a mid-century yellow chair but had a hard time finding the perfect model. I did eventually find a wonderful Poul Volther chair, but after trawling through endless vintage shops across London, it occurred to me that buying vintage could be made so much easier. Thus, the idea of Vinterior and creating a platform to buy vintage furniture began to grow!
Can you explain how Vinterior works and why you think it has become so popular?
Vinterior is a marketplace, putting together vintage lovers with a growing community of 1700+ trusted furniture dealers. We carefully curate the dealers who sell over Vinterior and offer buyers access to 150,000+ unique vintage and antique finds. With so many eras and styles, there really is something for every lifestyle, budget and taste. Removing the friction around finding and buying vintage furniture has always been our aim when building the platform. We are especially proud of our trade program, which equips design professionals to source vintage both quickly and hassle-free.
There are literally thousands of incredible pieces on your website from retro, modern Scandinavian to Italian and Chinese Antiques. Do you have a favourite style?
I don’t really have one favourite style…the joy of vintage and antique furniture is the ability to mix and match. There is so much scope for creativity and you can create a space that is truly unique and meaningful to you. I am a big fan however of my vintage Ligne Roset velvet Togo sofa!
I expect there isn’t such a thing as a ‘typical day’ for you, but what does being the CEO of Vinterior entail?
No day looks the same! Each week I have a leadership meeting and catch up 1-1 with my team leads on key areas of the business. Outside of that, it changes everyday. I try to make myself available to help the team, allocate time for culture building and think about longer term strategy. Depending on where we are in a cycle, a bulk of time is dedicated to hiring and fundraising.
What have been the highlights and challenges during your time at Vinterior?
Building a business from the ground up has definitely presented both moments of triumph and challenge. One highlight was during a board meeting where a board member asked each person in the senior management team about their top priority and everyone was totally aligned. After going through a period of rapid team growth, communication lines had been tested and it was a highlight to see that we were clearly on the same page when navigating our business goals. Likewise, the wider team is united in their understanding of the company mission. During our Friday ‘All Hands’ meetings, I am always blown away by what the team has achieved.
It is a challenge to navigate the right balance between being crystal clear about my expectations and giving the team space to figure out the solution independently. This includes learning to delegate and accepting that not everything will be as I’d like it. In order to scale and allow innovation and initiative, I must let the team experiment and learn through making mistakes. My high expectations can make this hard at times.
What advice can you give to someone looking into buying their first piece of vintage furniture?
Start with one piece and go from there. As above, don’t be afraid to mix and match different styles! Therein lies the fun of styling vintage furniture in the home. You can be as creative and unique in your approach as you wish.
Vinterior recently moved to its own office in Spitalfields, what’s next for Vinterior?
We are excited to begin launching Vinterior in other countries!