The pandemic has stopped or scrapped plans for a lot of companies, especially those who rely on physical stores or showrooms to sell products. This is the case for the furniture industry as store expansions or new product launches were halted due to the crisis.
The first few months of the quarantine were just fine, a welcome stop to the rush and madness of urban life. But as the lockdown dragged on, those who have businesses with employees to support and compensate began to worry. This can’t go on forever, they said, as they need to do something about the situation—even adopt new ways to do business—or else face “extinction.”
This was the dilemma that 28-year-old Jahred Tancungco faced as he witnessed how the quarantine drastically affected his family’s business. Jahred’s grandfather, Florencio Tancungco, established Red Furniture Pampanga in 1990, which has since been manufacturing and supplying furniture items for stores all over Luzon and Metro Manila.
As a third-generation member of the family, Jahred is using his skills to help transform the family’s furniture business. He didn’t realize it would take a pandemic to push them to the brink and to expose that their business was not ready for the “digital age,” so he decided to do something about it.
“I launched a new business online, called Naz Homeworks and ReDecor Philippines, just last June,” says Jahred. “The main line of the business is selling customized mirrors online. I decided to do this since I saw how our business was affected because of the pandemic. I want to keep our business afloat and to make sure our employees have work so they would have income.”
At first, Jahred was thinking of selling the usual furniture items, but he wanted to differentiate his business and thought of a home item that was not usually sold online. He looked around and noticed that there was one item that was not “popular” among online furniture sellers—the mirror.
“During lockdown, I observed that most were cleaning and organizing their homes. I noticed that a lot of homeowners wanted a really nice mirror to become part of their home décor. A mirror is not only a functional need, but could also be used for aesthetic purposes,” he says.
Jahred started creating the business’ online and social media pages. Right after the online launch, he was surprised with the response and demand for mirrors.
“I was overwhelmed since I had only one design when I started selling. But along the way, I learned to adapt with the trend. As of the moment, I have five standard designs—solid wood, metal, frameless, rattan, and aluminum mirror frames. We are also offering customized designs, which is a hit for homeowners with eclectic taste,” he says.
The measure of success of the new line of business can be seen in his packed weekend, when he delivers around 50 mirror frames per batch every Sunday.
“We do a per batch basis and we strictly follow our cutoff date (Thursday, 12 noon) because we couldn’t accommodate more as it would affect the production process and the quality of our mirrors,” he says, noting that his family’s furniture production is known for quality craftsmanship, something he prioritizes over quantity, even in the new mirror line.
As for the design, it’s a family affair, with Jahred’s dad initially designing the minimalist solid wood mirror frame. Then, father and son collaborated with materials in four basic colors (light brown, dark brown, white, and black) to produce more designs.
“We’ve also been receiving a lot of orders and queries if we can add new designs and colors. We are listening to our customers’ needs as I feel it should be a collaborative effort between manufacturer and homeowner to bring out the best product,” he explains.
As orders continuously come in, Jahred is inundated with questions on how to properly place and position a mirror inside the house. With this, he came up with a TikTok account for buyers to watch, which shows tips and do’s-and-don’ts on mirrors.
“What I highly suggest, as a believer of feng shui, is that the best place to hang a mirror is the dining area. Mirrors purposely reflect images so it ‘doubles’ the food, thereby bringing more abundance and wealth to the household,” he says. With this kind of “lucky” thinking, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Jahred expanding his new company, even opening a showroom after the pandemic, and giving more livelihood to Filipino craftsmen, thereby preserving their art and tradition from getting erased by mass-produced furniture products from abroad.
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