Why a new name?
Hello everyone, and thanks for wanting to learn more about our history.
When I told people last year we were thinking about re-launching the ecochair.ch local furniture platform under a new name, many people told me how much they liked the ecochair.ch name, and wanted to know why we would ever change it. I really like the name too, and I'm really proud of the brand we've built around it.
So why change?
Over the last 3 or 4 years of starting up and running the ecochair.ch furniture platform and association, I have learned a lot. (I like to to say that everything that goes wrong is a learning experience, so by now it feels like I should have a PhD). One of the things I learned about was the concept of a 'mental model' - the image or story people tell themselves about what our organisation does.
Sometimes people thought we were a hair products company...scroll down to the end to read why.
But more often, we found that people expected we were a group of foreign women who repaired and restored chairs. It's a really nice idea, but unfortunately not what we do. We made some mistakes in our marketing where we showed people, including us, working on furniture because it was interesting (and who wants to see pictures of someone working on a website?....boring!). We'd love to keep showing these types of images, but from now on we'll explain better that it's our talented sellers that are doing this work.
From the beginning, we have tried to build a service that makes it as easy as possible for people like you and me to find and buy great furniture from local sellers that is either pre-owned (design, vintage, antique), or made by local craftspeople from re-used and recycled materials.
We are largely a service organisation, operating the web-platform, doing a lot of the product photography, arranging viewings, local deliveries as well as marketing and communication on behalf on individuals and small businesses who chose to use our platform.
We do this because we are passionate about making sustainable living choices the norm, and operate the business as a non-profit association.
In retrospect, the choice of the name ecochair.ch for the platform was confusing - our dear customers often didn't realise that we sold more than just chairs, and and also didn't realise that we had a great group of local sellers behind the scenes. So we decided to change.
We chose the name Möbel Kollektiv Basel / Furniture Collective Basel because we think it explains very quickly what we offer on our platform - a group of local furniture sellers, working together.
We'll keep the ecochair.ch name for our association, so Möbel Kollektiv Basel and it's online shopping platform is now a project of the association. The association has a wider mandate including advocacy, promoting repair and building partnerships for impact. You can read more about it here.
We've also switched to a new e-commerce software platform, which should make it much easier for our sellers and local shopkeepers to manage their products. We've outgrown the capabilities our current web platform, and found that while a SaS (software as a service) was great for getting started, the costs started adding up, especially as our sales went up. So we've gone old-school and invested in licensed software with customisations. If you're a techy type or starting your own e-commerce store and want to know more, we're always happy to share our lessons learned. There have been many.
And in case you're interested, here is the brief history of the ecochair.ch name:
- It was originally meant to be chair.ch, but we were advised to include the 'eco' part to communicate that our mission is related to sustainability (unfortunately, some people thought eco = economical = cheap and were confused)
- chair was supposed to be a clever play on ch = switzerland, air = reference to airbnb-style online platforms, which were really disrupting the market back in 2015 when we started. No one else ever picked up on this, it was too clever for its own good.
- People consistently thought we were a hair stylist or hair products company (the read the name without the second 'c' eco-hair) and people even came into our old shop asking for haircuts, so we tried changing the 'eco' to green in our logo, to make the second c stand out more. Not sure that changed much.
(Well done for getting this far!)
We're happy to have you with us on our journey and are looking forward to continuing to bring you beautiful, local and sustainable furniture.
You can visit us in our new showroom at Schutzenmattstrasse 8 (near Spalentor) by appointment, or test out some great furniture for sale at the Klara food marketplace in Klein Basel.
And of course, please check-out our new platform furniture-basel.ch
With warm regards & see you soon,
Kate and the team
ecochair.ch founder / Möbel Kollektiv Basel Operations Head