It all started with a search for the perfect sofa.
Marta Attalla and Andri Wienandts were searching for a two-seater sofa for their bedroom. They had a specific design in mind, and wanted to find something that fits their needs. After more than a year of searching for the perfect sofa, they finally decided to settle on a sofa they found in a design shop in Bern. However, it was very expensive, almost 3000 francs!
The experience that followed was not a good one. Firstly, the sofa arrived in the color yellow, and not in red. The company told them to take it anyway, and wait two weeks for the right colored sofa to arrive. After two weeks the company called and said there was a problem with the order, so they had to wait another three months. When Andri asked for a discount, due to the long waiting period, he was told to get in touch directly with the store in France. The reaction in Paris was not a friendly one.
At this point, Andri and Marta decided to give up on the sofa. The whole process was getting a bit too complicated, the service was unfriendly, and they did not want to pay such a high fee to people who just did not care about customer service.
It was back to square one - searching for the perfect sofa. Andri used Google Images to track down this specific sofa design. He found a photo of the sofa they were looking for at a store in Denmark called Sofa Company.
The cost was an astonishingly low 700 francs. (It was the same quality as the 3000 franc version.) The only downfall: Pickup was in Holland as the vendor did not deliver to Switzerland.
Andri spoke to the friendly Dutch customer service and decided to order the sofa anyway. The couple drove to Holland, picked up their two-seater sofa, placed it in their car and drove back to Switzerland. Finally, they had found the perfect sofa for their bedroom.
A bad experience resulted in a great idea.
This experience did not stop the couple from wondering how such an ordeal can be avoided in Switzerland. Marta and Andri realized that there is a huge gap in Switzerland in terms of quality, design and price.
Either you find very expensive furniture stores that have sofas for 2000 francs and up, or you buy furniture from Ikea at a low price with no guarantee that it will last. Most furniture stores in Switzerland have practically the same designs in their stores, and if you want something different you have to pay a very high price.
At that time, Marta had quit her job as an Energy Economist in Bern and was looking for a change. A few weeks after their sofa ordeal, they thought that it might be a great idea to bring the Sofa Company to Switzerland. The path from idea to reality was short.
They partnered up with the Danish Sofa Company store and became the official sales representatives in Switzerland. After a few months, Andri quit his job as Business Analyst Energy Trader and joined Marta full time.
In May 2015, the couple opened their first shop in Bern. It was only 90 m2, a small space, just to see how it goes. In April 2016, they moved to a larger space of 200 m2, and in September 2016 they opened a showroom in Zürich.
The challenge of opening a business in Switzerland is to get accepted by the market and to be different from others. The first year was not easy. With no fixed schedule, they had to work over weekends and sometimes did not have enough customers coming into the store. The entrepreneurs went to pop-up fairs, and being the only furniture people there was quite an experience for them.
Sofa Company in Zürich has perfected their products.
But it seemed that people loved the design, the price and the quality of the products. Slowly, business started picking up and people gained trust in the products. As a result, Andri and Marta started hiring more employees in order to offer door to door furniture delivery.
What makes Sofa Company in Zürich different is the personal connection with customers and the passion about their products. They truly care about their customers' needs, and they want to make sure that they are happy with the product once it arrives in their home.
Customers can choose from a "Standard Collection" comprised of almost 200 different sofa designs and variations. These are usually in stock, and delivery takes two to four weeks.
On the other hand, basic model sofas can be customized with fabric color, buttons and wood elements. Delivery of this product usually takes three months. All of the furniture arrives from Denmark. Customers can then collect it from the warehouse or have it delivered directly to their home at an additional delivery fee.
(This portrait was done by Idit Kobrin. She is a documentary storyteller at kobrini.com)