“We’re on a mission to help our customers include their outdoor spaces in livable square footage,” says Nick Arambula, co-founder and CEO of Neighbor. The company, founded this past October, designs and distributes outdoor furniture and goods bult for a long life outside.
Launching with the Haven Collection, a modular seating collection constructed from sustainably harvested teak, the company’s main channel of distribution is its own website. It recently began distribution with Crate & Barrel and Huckberry.
“The idea to launch an outdoor furniture brand had been swirling around in our mind for quite some time,” Arambula relates. “Then, when COVID was thrust upon the world, it hit us like a ton of bricks. Most of our homes were turned into a 24/7 restaurant, school, office, gym, and the list goes on. Our spaces that were historically used to recharge, relax and refresh became a space of stress and constant demand. We all talked how we found ourselves escaping outside to find some relief.”
Arambula had spent the previous four years working at Tuft & Needle, which is where he met the other co-founders, Chris Lee and Mike Fretto. “Our time at Tuft & Needle provided a great training ground to build a profitable business that focused on the home. At T&N, we were very comfortable with designing and shipping big, bulky items to customers’ front doors; we knew that experience would be invaluable in launching Neighbor.”
One of the first challenges they discovered was being faced with more things to complete in a day than a founding team can tackle, Arambula shares. “We joke that each day is like waking up and looking at all the balls that are in the air and just grabbing whichever one is about to hit the ground. We’ve gotten around this by being hyper-communicative, which may sound elementary, but you can’t understate the importance of it.” The partners have also begun to grow their team a little earlier than they’d anticipated.
The partners’ other big challenge has been keeping up with demand. “The incredible customer interest has forced us to make some big bets on purchasing a lot of inventory,” Arambula says. “In order to support that, we’ve raised a little bit of money. In making our decision around capital, we built a pretty exhaustive model to determine what our capital needs would be, without taking on too much capital.”
As he started the business, Arambula says he took to heart advice he’d been given to make sure to take the time to align on goals with his co-founders. “At face value, it seems like a very elementary piece of advice, but I think most founders rarely spend the time to explore those difficult questions prior to jumping headfirst into a business,” he says. “Mike, Chris and I spent a lot of time — and still do — discussing our collective perspective on the future of Neighbor, what we each hope to extract from the experience and how to make sure we’re consistently checking in to see how we’re staying true to our original vision. I’m of the opinion that keeping that stuff top of mind is tantamount, but often pushed to the back burner due to competing priorities.”