While architecture provides the framework for space, setting up vibe and mood requires suitable furnishings and interiors. A well-designed room speaks volumes about the atmosphere one wants to convey. To provide customers with the perfect furnishing products that they seek, Deirdre Mc Gettrick, founded ufurnish.com, which has a mission to change the way we all shop for furniture and furnishings.
As the CEO, Deirdre provides a platform that enables consumers to easily search, discover, compare, and shop furniture products on one website across the entire retail market. In our endeavor to find “The 10 Most Inspiring Women Leaders to Follow in 2022,” we came across Deirdre. We talked with her to understand how she elevates different aspects of her business.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at the company. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?
As a child, I loved all things interiors, visiting furniture shops, and looking at images from the property section of the newspaper. After a career in banking spanning a decade, I bought my first home and was super excited about the prospect of furnishing it with all my saved inspiration designs. Alas, the excitement turned to frustration as I was unable to find the perfect products for my vision. This led to the business idea that has become ufurnish.com. I was solving a consumer problem, and that consumer was me. Leaving my career in banking meant walking away from a well-remunerated role and taking the risk of starting a company, something I had no experience with. I had to overcome all my doubts and really believe in the solution I was bringing for consumers. The key I realized to starting and growing a business is that you need help. You will never be the best at every skillset, so get people on board who can complement your skills. Together we are stronger.
Tell us something more about the company and its mission and vision.
I am the founder of ufurnish.com, an online search, and discovery website for home furniture and furnishings. At ufurnish.com, we bring 150+ furniture retailers onto one website to make finding the perfect item of furniture easy for the consumers, akin to how Autotrader aggregates cars, Skyscanner aggregates airlines, and Rightmove for real estate search in the UK. At ufurnish.com, your dream home is our mission.
Enlighten us on how you have made an impact in the industry through your expertise in the market?
I started the business from the perspective of a consumer who wanted to recreate a home design based on all the home inspiration I had collected over the years. By being the person, you are actually solving the problem for; it helps to keep clear in your mind the solution that is required while putting aside other influencing factors such as shareholders, retailers and all other stakeholders. The consumer is always kept at the core of my decision-making process.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.
We have five core values at ufurnish.com, Honesty, Integrity, Fairness, Simplicity, and Sustainability. We describe ourselves as akin to a sports team; we are high-performing with a desire to deliver results. We work hard to create the change required in the furniture industry. To do this, however, we need to be open, transparent, and honest in our opinions and feedback. We encourage people to speak up, share their views, but once a decision is made based on the facts available at the time, everyone lines up behind that decision for the overall good of the team. We keep simplicity and fairness at our core and operate in the most sustainable way possible, both for 1) the environment and 2) maintaining sustainable relationships with all our stakeholders from team members, retailers, consumers, and shareholders.
Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?
For ufurnish.com, what is critical is developing autonomous systems that serve many purposes within our business, whether it be data processing, integrating disparate systems, or the use of machine learning tools to improve the accuracy and quality of data. These are the things we constantly implement, analyze, and refine today and will continue to do so into the future.
If given a chance, what change would you like to bring to the industry?
I am the ultimate champion of the consumer, and if the industry can change to make improvements for the consumer, that is always a step in the right direction. I am passionate about increasing the amount of choice available to consumers to help them make better-informed buying decisions. By bringing together all retailers, regardless of size, the strength of the brand, marketing budgets, or a number of products, I believe ufurnish.com is creating that change.
What, according to you, could be the next big change in the industry? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?
The supply chain will be the biggest challenge over the coming decade, with the impact of limited resources, expensive shipping rates, and ever-changing trading rules (such as Brexit in the UK), meaning that the supply chain will be interrupted. As ufurnish.com is one step detached from the supply, we seek to help the consumer find their perfect furniture items by showing them what is actually available in the market.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for the company?
The vision of ufurnish.com is to be the world’s largest search and discovery platform for home furniture and furnishings. That is my core focus for the future, as it takes years to build a truly successful company. For example, Airbnb is over 13 years old, having been founded in 2008. I envisage myself leading the company through the startup phase into growth and entering maturity as a globally recognized brand.
What would be your advice to budding women entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the industry?
Network and learn from others who have achieved similar things to your goal. You can’t and won’t avoid every mistake, but something you can learn from others’ journeys to help you achieve your goal easier.