BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Uhuru Design, a designer and manufacturer of residential and commercial furniture bearing a “New American” design aesthetic, has received $6.9 million in private capital that it said will support the growth of its e-commerce platform and its national B2B and dealer network.
The company, which was founded in 2004, began producing mostly high-end custom residential furniture, but evolved into the commercial and hospitality sector with a line of solid wood desks, dining and occasional tables, mirrors, consoles, credenzas and other storage pieces.
The company’s custom line is produced domestically, both at its plant in Pennsylvania and at a number of other domestic workshops, while larger volume orders are produced in Vietnam.
The domestic line is produced using largely reclaimed woods in pieces that also feature metal components, offering a clean-lined modern industrial aesthetic it calls New American Design. The portion of the line made in Vietnam bears similar design elements and is slowly but steadily evolving to a mix that is made with more sustainable materials.
“They are not fully sustainable, but we are aggressively going down that path,” said CEO Leo Lucisano, noting that the company expects its import line will be fully sustainable in the coming year.
While the commercial and hospitality portion of the business has fueled revenue growth in the past several years, Lucisano said that the blending of commercial and residential (“resimmercial”) — including a work from home assortment — is moving the company back closer to its residential roots.
“The timing of this capital raise was critical to allowing us to lean into the ‘resimmercial’ or work-from-home market that exploded in the wake of COVID-19, while also shoring up our U.S.-based manufacturing that has struggled with intermittent shutdowns and talent shortages,” Lucisano said. “It’s remarkable to complete a transaction in the current environment, let alone secure funds for near-term and long-term growth, and it’s a testament to the Uhuru team, our product differentiation and our design heritage.”
Sold both on its website, www.Uhurudesign.com, and through various resellers, the upper-end line offers a mix of home office, dining and living room furniture, including round and rectangular dining tables which can double as meeting room tables in office settings.
The 84-inch Milo Communal table retails at $6,800, while 96-inch and 120-inch versions retail at $7,900 and $9,800, respectively. The 48-inch Bowen round table retails at $2,300, while a 60-inch version retails at $2,500.
The 47-inch Frame rise desk retails at $1,100 while a 59-inch version retails at $1,150. The office line also offers desk chairs and a variety of other regular height and sit-stand desks available in multiple two-tone finish options.
In the past year, the company’s strategy was focusing on its manufacturing both overseas and domestically, fine tuning its supply chain both in Vietnam and in its custom factory in Pennsylvania, while also establishing a broader network of suppliers in the U.S.
Like other furniture resources, the company has spent much of this year managing and stabilizing the business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It also has been evolving its e-commerce platform and building up its inventory to offer quick ship from both existing and new vendors. In addition, it has rolled out a new brand called Proper that offers high design items at about a third of the cost of the regular line. The company also is planning to roll out a branded custom offering that will be available for retail, hospitality or high-end residential.
“At Uhuru, we believe each piece should be conceived, designed and produced to add to the greater good of the world, and we’ve built collection after collection based on this belief,” said Jason Horvath, co-founder, chief creative officer and president of Uhuru. “We are a leader in the New American furniture design movement, and we will continue to push forward with an aggressive growth strategy, while remaining true to our focus on craft, sustainability and innovative design.”
With this latest round of funding, the company is eager to continue its long-standing belief in — and application of — these principals, while introducing its line to a boarder segment of the population.
“We are already leveraging this funding to support the launch of new direct-to-consumer products and to support our B2B and dealer and rep channels as our efforts over the last year to build out national distribution pay off, and we make New American Design accessible to design-centric companies and home-office customers alike,” Lucisano added.