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Interview: 2Modern’s Greg Finney, Part 2!

Categories: Exclusive Interviews

We’ve got the second part to our interview with one of the founders of 2Modern today. We might be a website that sells modern designs to people all over the world, but behind the website is a group of folks truly passionate about modern design, excited about all the amazing new products and so grateful to get to work in such an awesome field.

What started out as a small collection of vendors has exploded into the awesomely curated collection you see on the site today–and it’s still growing! More than just an online retail store, we also wanted to do these interviews to show off all the other things we’ve got going on here: our 2M Directory, the 2M Collective, our new Trendsetters section and yes–our blog–all areas we hope to keep growing and expanding with your help.

Greg Finney answered some great questions in the first part of his interview that we posted earlier this week, and in this part he shares even more details about how 2Modern got started, why he thinks it’s been such a success, what some upcoming trends are (you’ll definitely want to hear that!) and what’s in store for 2Modern in the future:


Our podcast music is “Dropping out of School” by Brad Sucks, licensed for use under Creative
Commons license Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

Did you miss part one of Greg’s interview? Catch up here! You better believe we’ve got a transcript for this interview below. Check us out at 2Modern.com. The audio interview: 2Modern Greg Finney Part 2

2M: I think one of the most amazing things about 2Modern is how it’s stayed so relevant. Maybe when you started there weren’t that many places to get modern design, but there are now…and yet 2Modern continues to be very successful…how have you been able to maintain and grow that success?
GF: Everybody that works within 2Modern really loves what they do; they enjoy modern design and they enjoy working with creative people and also love working with customers because they love good design and there’s great conversations that happen with that as well. I think underneath it all—I think if we were just in this business for the business aspect of it it would be difficult to stay relevant for many different reasons, probably more so than with other businesses. Like if someone was selling tractors or something, or some nuts and bolts sort of thing…versus design, it’s just far more curated. I mean you’ve got some sort of relationship to what you’re selling. It’s not because someone else says they really like that, it’s because we at 2Modern say “Gosh, I really like that, that’s beautiful. Look at that.” It’s one of those things that as it evolves and as the world of design evolves, we’re very much in tune with it because we love it so much. And I think that is why 2Modern has stayed so relevant.

2M: What’s one of the hardest things about trying to run a business like this?
GF: Underneath it all, when you’re dealing with e-commerce businesses, there’s a lot in terms of how do you get the brand out there so people see it? How do they know who you are in the first place? So dealing with search engine optimization and algorithms within Google to do that, looking at logistical situations. You know, we’re shipping hard goods and sometimes things might get mixed up with a shipper or something gets damaged. So making sure that our customer support team is very well trained and knows how to handle everything because both Jennifer and I are real sticklers for making sure people have wonderful experiences. I mean we’ve all had bad customer experiences where you order something, even from large companies, and something goes wrong, and you call in and they’re not very personable or the person is new and don’t know what they’re talking about or they say they’re going to do something but then they don’t and you have to call back in…all these different things.

So really polishing that and really understanding everything with that. When we came from this real design background to all of a sudden working with logistics and customer service and all these other things that were involved—we really obviously take it very seriously because we really appreciate our customers and want them to have a wonderful experience. So with that there’s certainly a learning curve of I’s to be dotted and T’s to be crossed and phone systems and software systems supported and all of that. There are definitely a lot of little rabbit holes and cans of worms that you might not realize you’re signing up for that you really have to take seriously.

2M: Who do you think is really outstanding in the modern design world right now?
GF: I’m going to say that everyone that’s there on 2Modern is there because it’s our own free will choice that they’re there. There’s no one that’s there because we’re just throwing them up because we heard that they sell well. They’re there because we really love their designs. So out of all the thousands and thousands of designers out there, it’s a pretty curated site, even though we probably represent over a 100 designers on 2Modern. And I would say the same goes with the modern design directory, when it comes to interior designers and architects. We get a lot of people applying to be in that directory and unfortunately we can’t approve everyone. And it’s not because we’re trying to have a superiority complex or something. That’s not the thing; there’s just a certain amount of criteria you have to meet to get in there. So if you look at who we feel are the best of the best of modern design in interior design and architecture: they’re in the 2Modern Design Directory. So that’s a real visual way for anyone that’s interested to find out who our favorites are…who we think deserve to be shown to the world.

2M: Are there any design trends you’ve been noticing a lot lately?
GF: Obviously there has been–well it’s been beyond a trend–in sustainable design, and we have a section of our site that’s dedicated to it; it’s a whole eco- section. There are advanced ways in which people are dealing with manufacturing; there’s a lot of ability now for laser cutting, so you’ll see now a lot of lighting or dressers that have beautiful images that are kind of laser cut into the drawers. So there are really a lot of wonderful things that are happening with the manufacturing processes that really allow people to get really creative without making it cost a tremendous amount of money. There are also these ways in which people are bringing things back from old to new. We talked a bit about Mid-Century Modern design and the difference between what is modernism and what is now. And this is something that happens within fashion as well, where people will bring back bell bottoms from the 70s and that becomes a trend. That’s happening also now a bit in terms of art and sofas and chairs, where people are kind of bringing back that–remodernizing modernism, Mid-Century Modernism. But what you’re able to do with that is create a little bit more comfort that goes along with that design aesthetic, just because the manufacturing abilities now are just a lot better than they were fifty or sixty years ago.

A lot of things are going to pop in May in ICFF in New York; that’s going to be a wonderful show coming up. There’s always so much wonderful modern and contemporary design that comes out of that show from all over the world. And that’s going to be real exciting; 2Modern is going to be there, looking for new designers and interviewing new designers. But I think that we’re seeing more coral colors, still kind of this natural theme. A lot of organic looking things, ocean life, etc, that are put into designs. I think that will probably continue. And looking into 2012, I’m very much interested in things like ocean and seascape and driftwood and things like that, and I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of movement in that direction.

2M: Can you give us any hints of what’s coming up in the next few months?
GF: Well we’re always going to be adding new designers; we add somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 to 4 new designers every month. We’re doing a lot of new things with the blog, in terms of covering cities and getting into design guides. And we’re updating our content in the blog quite frequently. And then we have the 2Modern Collective that’s up, it’s 2mcollective.com, and there we have different designers that we represent, where we have limited time frame sales, that are 30, 40, 50, 60 percent off, and it’ll be a limited quantity in a limited time frame, so people should sign up for that newsletter. It’ll come out maybe once a week on a Thursday that’ll say “the sale is starting” and they can come and if they like it they can buy it quickly. And then we have our gift registry that is up for the wedding and baby seasons; we had a lot of requests for that. And then we have a few more things that are top secret that should be coming up in the next few months that we’re certainly very excited about—that will enhance all this and tie it all together and it’s all of course related to the world of modern design and I’m really excited about it.

2M: Thanks so much for talking with me today.
GF: Yeah thank you. I really appreciate it. I also really appreciate everyone that’s listening and that has followed 2Modern over the years or maybe has just started following us. It’s been a real pleasure for us to have a business that we actually love and enjoy and I’m glad that there are fans out there that enjoy following us and reading our blog posts or perusing our designs or shopping around or maybe even doing business with us. The people, the architects, the interior designers all the designers we work with—it’s really enjoyable. So I want to thank everyone that makes it possible for us to do this for a living. It’s really a treat.

2M: Could haven’t said it better myself.

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