Buying a sofa is rarely easy for anyone. It’s one of the most major decisions for the home and needs to be the right mix of style, functionality, and price. Since 2020, it’s also become a far more stressful process because of supply chain issues and other manufacturer delays. Enter 7th Avenue. This innovative direct-to-consumer furniture brand which launched in 2022, has created a “functional luxury” sofa that seemingly checks every box and alleviates most of the pain points involved with this purchase. It’s also the only thing they do. While the brand’s “we have one job” approach is very unique in the furniture industry, it could also be why this emerging company is on-track for long-term success.
What Is The 7th Avenue Sofa?
It took co-founders Billy Shaw and Josh Stinson ten months to design, prototype, test, and develop the 7th Avenue sofa. Prior to launching this venture, Shaw was the cofounder and CEO of mobile internet company Pundit. Stinson was previously the cofounder of ByteRyde, a company that provides insurance for autonomous cars. In addition to this, he worked in the production department of fashion houses including Marc Jacobs and Prada.
7th Avenue claims to have created “The World’s Greatest Modular Sofa,” and this statement seems to be incredibly accurate. There appears to be no other sofa on the market that’s equally stylish, modular, eco-friendly, non-toxic, stain and water-resistant with machine-washable slipcovers at an accessible price.
At first glance, 7th Avenue’s sofa and sectional is a “Cloud Couch Dupe.” The product is even marketed this way with a direct comparison chart on their website not only to RH’s famous Cloud Sofa, but also to West Elm’s Harmony Modular Sofa.
Comparisons aside, it’s a beautiful contemporary piece that’s still neutral enough to integrate into most design schemes, even if they skew modern or traditional with the right accessories. There are currently four colorways available—Pure White, Natural White, Charcoal Black, and Mist Grey.
But functionality is where 7th Avenue truly leads in innovation. Each piece is endlessly modular and can be re-arranged into a variety of L and U-shaped configurations. Change the number of modules and it can go from a day bed to a chaise and a sofa to a sectional. Increase the size of your family? Move to a larger home? There’s no need to buy an entirely new sofa, just more pieces. In addition to this being financially beneficial for customers, it also builds brand loyalty and keeps furniture out of landfills longer.
The 7th Avenue sofa is also one of the most durable options on the market. The slipcovers are easily spot-cleaned but can also be machine-washed or dry-cleaned. So whether it’s pets, kids, or adults with wine, an accident never becomes a true disaster.
However, unlike the majority of stain-resistant furniture, 7th Avenue’s slipcovers use DWR coating technology, which is non-toxic. “Most furniture companies that have stain-resistant fabrics happen to heavily rely on ‘forever chemicals’, a group of microplastics such as PFC, PFOA and PFAS that are shown to be incredibly harmful to the human body and the environment. This is a big no-no for us,” explain the co-founders. “By 2023, our DWR coating will be free from all microplastics as well as PFC, PFAS and PFOA chemicals.”
The upholstery is also OEKO-TEX certified, meaning it is free from chemicals harmful to humans and the environment. Lastly, the solid hardwood frame is sustainably-sourced and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
All of these things make this sofa extra appealing not just to eco-conscious consumers, but also to families with young children. “It was very important for us to create a non-toxic product since most people spend so much of their time on their sofas, yet few have realized what toxic materials furniture brands have been using in their products. This is why we want to be different.”
But perhaps most importantly, this sofa is incredibly comfortable to sit on. In addition to the choice between medium-soft or medium-firm custom fills, the vegan down-alternative seating has a blend of memory foam that not only prevents sinking but also never needs fluffing.
A Unique Business Model
While 7th Avenue has mastered creating a singular product, they aren’t planning on explaining its core product line any time soon. Shaw and Stinson tell me, “We are currently laser-focused on one product in the household, the sofa. Sofas are the most important (and expensive) furniture purchase a customer typically makes, and therefore we aim to create sofas that have a beautiful contemporary design but also be able to withstand people’s active lifestyles.”
It’s a very unusual approach to business, especially in the furniture industry. “As a young company, we want to be able to do one thing really well rather than do so many things in mediocrity. For example, there are furniture companies that offer 50+ fabric options and colors, yet the majority, if not all, of these fabrics, are not machine-washable. We choose to offer fewer fabric options and colors, but make sure that all of them are durable, water-repellent, stain-resistant, and machine-washable.”
This also streamlines the supply chain and optimizes lead times, which have been the biggest challenges in the industry since the pandemic “Our lead times hover between two to six weeks depending on how busy we are. This is in contrast to other places where customers are expected to wait six to eight months for their order.”
Furthermore, avoiding customizations significantly improves the manufacturing process. “Since we don’t make anything custom, this means products have been manufactured months before customers even get to purchase them. This allows us to reduce the lead times to generally hover between two to six weeks, allowing our customers a faster delivery experience than other places that expect their customers to wait six to eight months,” they explain.
However, there are some minor customizations available including back cushions and sofa layouts. These customizations take place at showrooms and don’t impact the supply chain while improving the quality of the product.
7th Avenue’s showroom model is also particularly interesting. Instead of having traditional retail locations, they opt for stores ever so slightly off the beaten path to save money on expensive leases, so they can pass the savings onto customers. There are currently five showrooms located in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Houston.
Showrooms are also by appointment only, which gives potential customers the attention they need as well as time to truly understand the product and its many features. Sales associates do what would make many gasp in horror—spilling everything from soda to wine on the cushions and promptly cleaning it up. They also show how easy it is to rearrange each piece.
The Future Of 7th Avenue
For a one-year-old company, 7th Avenue is thriving on its ability to sell one thing. They’ve sold thousands of sofas and have grown from zero to five showrooms. In 2023, they anticipate a 200 percent year-to-year revenue growth and we are expecting to open eight to ten additional showrooms in several locations including California, Texas, Arizona, New York, and Florida.
While 7th Avenue doesn’t plan to stray from making its signature product, they are expanding with more color and fabric options. “We are currently developing a series of warm, earthy colors for customers that are obsessed with creating a neutral-colored home. We are also currently developing our leather selection, for customers that want an even more elevated look.”