One of the key phrases my mother repeated to me throughout my childhood was [read in New York accent], “You buy good, you have good”. She told me this to stop me from buying fast fashion – of course, this was the late 90s and there wasn’t a word for that. Instead, she would call it, “Cheap s%*t that falls apart after two washes.” The point was that I had a limited clothing budget, and if I spent more money on a higher quality jean jacket now, it would last longer and I’d always have a jean jacket when I needed it. I, in fact, still have that jean jacket. I’m confident my mother didn’t know it, but what she was actually instilling in me was a very forward-thinking, sustainability-friendly philosophy, and it holds the seeds for the Designed for Life philosophy: Enabling mankind to consume less by inspiring companies to design better.

One of the key phrases my mother repeated to me throughout my childhood was [read in New York accent], “You buy good, you have good”. She told me this to stop me from buying fast fashion – of course, this was the late 90s and there wasn’t a word for that. Instead, she would call it, “Cheap s%*t that falls apart after two washes.” The point was that I had a limited clothing budget, and if I spent more money on a higher quality jean jacket now, it would last longer and I’d always have a jean jacket when I needed it. I, in fact, still have that jean jacket. I’m confident my mother didn’t know it, but what she was actually instilling in me was a very forward-thinking, sustainability-friendly philosophy, and it holds the seeds for the Designed for Life philosophy: Enabling mankind to consume less by inspiring companies to design better.

 
 

Me in 2000 in my jacket on a summer trip with friends. Me in 2020 in the same jean jacket at the beach early morning socially distancing with my son.]

In these stressful times of COVID-19, it can be difficult to find the silver lining in things. But I believe we all have to hold on to something to get through this. The thing I’m holding on to is that this Global Pandemic might actually bring change. And I’m hopeful that this situation, while it forces us to re-evaluate our way of life through a germophobic lens, can also give us time to view it through a more sustainable lens as well. One of the ways we can re-evaluate, which I think we’re all doing right now, is by looking at what we spend money on, what we consume, and how we consume it. What’s important is not just what a consumer does, it’s also what’s available in the market to consume. That’s why we need companies to design better.

Decades of planned obsolescence and competition are driving down prices, but quality is falling as well. Now that companies are shortening the time it takes to bring a product to market and increasing output, it’s increasingly difficult to “buy good.” Quality products are harder and harder to find.

At DFL Group, we believe It’s the responsibility of companies and designers to put good products into the market. Products that are Guarantee-able, have a classic Loveable style, and will sustain their value to the customer over time (Sustain-able). As designers, manufacturers, suppliers, and entrepreneurs, we all have a part to play in this system of supply and demand. I hope we can inspire more people to seize the opportunity now, applying pressure where we can, to push the system to make more sustainable, higher quality products that are built to Last and Designed to Evolve.

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

For me, I initially learned about Lovesac simply because its headquarters was within commuting distance of my house. I had just come from a job in management consulting, traveling Monday – Thursday. I was a newlywed looking for a job that would be suitable for how my life would most certainly change as I looked to starting a family. It was while researching for my first interview with Lovesac that I fell in love with the ingeniously simple, modular design of Sactionals. I’m an engineer by education, and my mother is an interior-design addict who compulsively tells people the best way to rearrange their living room when visiting new people. So, I could appreciate both the simplicity of the way Sactionals Seats and Sides connect, as well as the endless possibilities they afforded for style and room layout.

I interviewed with the co-founder Dave, who is also the design director. The role I was up for would be reporting directly to him. Dave informed me that Lovesac was in the middle of rebranding. He got into their focus on sustainability, the challenges they faced, and how creative, elegant solutions were the cornerstone of their design ethos. I was instantly excited about the possibility of being a part of, not just a company, but something bigger. Spoiler alert: I got the job! I didn’t know it during my interview, but what drew me to Lovesac was the DFL philosophy and how it helped evolve the Sactionals platform. The fact that the couch is so adaptable (Changeable, Maintainable) and the design team’s attention to sustainability (Sustainable, End-of-Lifeable) all came directly from the eight tenets.

Now that I’ve been at Lovesac for a while, it’s easy to see that the DFL philosophy is a powerful motivator for Lovesac employees, not just myself. One moment sticks out to me. It was in a workshop called Blue EQ at our annual ManagerFest retreat. The room was filled with about 50 people, mostly managers from our showrooms, not many from HQ like I was. It was late in the afternoon and we were asked a series of 20 or so questions around what we like most or found motivating about our jobs. Based on those answers, we were sorted into 4 groups. Two-thirds of the room ended up with me under the poster that said, “Inspiration.” We were all there, working at Lovesac, because we felt inspired by the company, we felt like we were contributing to a higher purpose, and achieving something good by coming in every day, not just getting a paycheck.

The truth is, for something like DFL to work, it has to be something you’re actively working towards, not just lip service. In the past three years, I’ve seen the DFL philosophy drive design decisions, like going with kraft shipping boxes instead of the more aesthetically pleasing white, simply because they could be made from recycled paper and didn’t use as many chemicals in their creation. Or, paying a little more to have our upholstery fabric made from recycled water bottles. And while the showroom associates on the frontline don’t get to see the hours of debate happening behind the scenes, they certainly understand the mission and feel that same passion. It’s easy to see how they’re transferring that passion to customers in the showrooms, just look at #Lovesac on any social media platform.

That’s the power DFL has for an organization.

Managers at Blue EQ workshop at Lovesac Head Quarters.

Jessie Schwartz

About Jessie Schwartz

Jessie Schwartz-Kwasnik joined the Product Design team at Lovesac in 2017. Before that she spent six years in management consulting working on PLM implementations including new product launch processes.  Her passion for sustainable design started from reading the Lorax as a child and continued through her education at Dartmouth College. She was excited to put her beliefs into reality while working at Lovesac and to try to live up to the DFL principals.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

X