Fernish makes moving and redecorating easy
By Nicole Borgenicht
In the millennial climate of moving and contract jobs, remote work, and home-stasis during the pandemic, thriving company Fernish resolves issues. Fernish limits waste from furniture that’s had its day or does not move well and reduces moving expenses and anxiety.
It all began with two friends who knew they could build a successful business together and both had been through multiple location changes. Palms resident Michael Barlow and cofounder Lucas Dickey have answered the prayers to many a moving nightmare.
“Michael originally came to me in Summer 2017 with this crazy idea,” Dickey said. “His girlfriend (and now wife), Denise, had just gone through a terrible moving and furniture experience after graduating from business school and having to quickly move to Los Angeles. She ‘adulted’ and bought some great furniture from CB2 and West Elm at the beginning of her two-year school program, but couldn’t give the furniture away fast enough — let alone sell it fast enough — to fit her moving needs.
Combine Denise’s experience with Michael’s five moves in six years while he was at JPMorgan in Manhattan, and Michael and Denise had a simple takeaway after that: ‘Why does moving need to be so hard? And why do we buy and own furniture when we’re moving so frequently, and we don’t own anything else? We don’t own our homes, our cars, and many other things we’re subscribing to experience but not own.’ Given I had moved 10 times in 12 years post-undergrad, I, too, understand this pain very viscerally. And that’s after I moved all of my life as a military brat.”
Dickey and Barlow had worked at Atom Tickets together where Dickey was the principal product manager and Barlow ran investor relations and corporate development. Recognizing each other’s talents, they knew they would create a complementary business framework.
“Given Michael and the idea, I was in,” Dickey said. “Michael serves as CEO, and I took on the role of chief product officer. Michael initially owned all things outside of the software side of the house — marketing, sales, operations/logistics, finance — and I took on product management, software engineering, UX design and the like.
We quickly moved to hire people much more capable than ourselves that were steeped in years of subject matter experience, like our eventual president and COO hire, Kristin Smith, who has more than two decades of experience in supply chain, logistics, P&L ownership, general management and more across Amazon, Dell, Zulily, Dolly, and others. We wanted to hire heavy hitters so we could build the optimal company for helping all of our customers to effortlessly make their house a home.”
Only four years since forming the company, Dickey and Barlow started in a small LA-based warehouse space. Fernish is now nationwide for home, office and business venues.
“Since then, we’re now live in the valley north of LA to south of San Diego (and everywhere in between), plus Seattle/Tacoma, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and more to come,” Dickey said. “We continued to grow and thrive during the pandemic given peoples’ appetites for nesting, making a better home since they were spending so much time there as of late, needing work-from-home spaces, and even doing more to set up their backyard lounge and patio setup. We also expanded our services since then to offer not just furniture subscriptions, but also traditional retail for some items — giving our customers the opportunity to decide how they want to experience their furniture.”
While Fernish biggest clientele are millennials, they also work with residential companies who have the similar goal of providing a positive lifestyle experience.
“The bulk of our customers are millennials and Gen Z’ers, but we also have quite a few customers who are in their 40s, 50s and 60s who are using Fernish to fill a new home they might have just bought until they figure out their “forever pieces’’, folks going through divorces, or folks downsizing homes as they move into smaller places as they go into retirement phases,” Dickey said. “The other ‘channel’ would be our deep relationship with multi-family residential owners and operators (think Essex, AvalonBay, UDR, or here in LA folks like CLG and Aimco). Like us, they want to make sure their residents have a great experience when turning an apartment into a home, and we help fulfill that goal.”
Staying up to date with the trends and contemporary style, Barlow shared they hired a team who discover furniture their customers “love.” Barlow said, “When it comes to sustainability, we specifically look for furniture that has a “modular” design, meaning pieces can be swapped out if they’re damaged or dirty. Not only is this great for customers, but it’s also great for the environment because we can keep furniture in circulation instead of throwing it away after one customer’s use.”
Back to being problem solvers, Barlow shared some additional ways that Fernish improves lifestyle balance.
“We help solve a problem that so many people have: dealing with furniture is painful… it’s expensive, assembling it is awful, and no one wants to be stuck with it when they move from one place to another,” Barlow said. “And now with the supply chain the way it is, it can take forever for your furniture to arrive. Our goal is to solve all these pain points. We deliver and assemble everything for you in as little as seven days, you can avoid high upfront costs by making small monthly payments, and you have flexibility to give your stuff back when you move or if you love it, you can keep it forever! Customers really gravitate to the ease of our service and that’s most responsible for our growth.”