Interior design is one of the ways you can make a place a true home. From the decor to the furniture you choose, it is all in the details. The furniture industry is a big part of the US economy. The industry makes 113.78 billion dollars in furniture and furnishing store sales and continues to grow. One company that is making its way through the business is Keen Rentals.
Keen Rentals is a women-founded furniture company started by Erika and Kaylen. Based in Atlanta, the duo wanted to create a business to serve “sentimentalists who are all about mid-century modern style design”. They hold a unique collection of hand-picked and refurbished furniture pieces that will elevate any room and start a conversation.
Give us a little backstory on how you met?
We met about 6 years ago while planning events for a celebrity chef restaurant group. We worked really well together and had a shared passion for events and mid-century modern furniture. There are so many funny stories about how connected we’ve been through our lives. There were many times we should have absolutely met sooner. We were destined to meet and starting this business has been the most rewarding experience.
As a women-founded business focusing on creativity, what are some of your daily goals?
The goal is to stay organized and on task. We like to consider ourselves “Type A-”. We’re detail and task-oriented, but we’re also flexible and are able to flow with things that pop up in our schedule. We have set days and hours that we schedule to work together. We really try to maximize that time through creative brainstorming, admin work, and hands-on installation work.
Are there any special moments in the creation of your business or any customer stories that you remember fondly?
In August of 2018, we partnered with the wonderful business duo of HerMarket. They reached out to us to be involved in the event design, for their summer market and conference panel. This was one of our first moments we creatively leaned into our custom installations, paired with our vintage rentals, and we loved every moment of it. Kia and Jazlin allowed us to highlight their brand through creative design. We worked within their brand elements to create a conference panel backdrop and hanging installation piece that made a statement and tied the room together. The vibes of their conference panel and market, coupled with our installations and furniture, created an event we will always cherish.
As creatives and Business owners, is there any advice that you can give to upcoming entrepreneurs?
Take the time to organize and set up your business! When we launched, it was later than originally planned. However, it was a conscious decision to do so. We knew to take the time to develop our brand, and organizational standards were very important to us. Having a good foundation will make everything we do moving forward so much easier. We made sure to hire an accountant right away and took notes on how we’d like the business to run. As we built work-flows for ourselves, we typed them up and saved them. When it comes time for us to hire employees in the future, we already have a training manual. It’s a little more work and sometimes it feels like you’re moving slower than you would want, but taking the time to be organized makes it all worth it.
As business partners, how do you split the roles?
Right now, we really share everything. We’re still navigating the business and all of its exciting moments and challenges. A great element to having a business partner is bouncing ideas off of each other and sharing the weight of running a company. Whether its a custom installation or solely furniture rentals, we put together a project management spreadsheet and determine based on each other’s strengths how we want to share the tasks. We both have strengths and weaknesses, but we communicate well and use those to our advantage to make sure every event ends up exactly as our client had imagined!
What do you find has been the strengths and weaknesses of the history of your business? What have you learned from your mistakes and your accomplishments?
We started off as a furniture rental company, focused on vintage Mid-Century Modern furniture. We’ve experienced growing pains, as any newly launched small-business does. However, we’ve learned to really lean into our creativity. We added custom installations as a new service to our business, which has taken on a whole other element to our creative niche. We’re 7 months into the business, and there’s certainly a learning curve with taking on new clients, market strategies, and knowing our limits of what we’re able to take on as a team.
Is there a certain way ta piece of furniture makes you feel? Does it tell a story of whoever owned it previously?
We have a soft spot for vintage furniture with clean lines and functionality, and the nostalgia that comes with investing in a piece of history. We find that it’s best to keep an open mind when sourcing vintage pieces. When we find something we like, we do our best to research the era, make, and designer. Most importantly, you find where it came from and how it was acquired. The stories about a grandmother’s couch that no longer fits a space, or the very worn childhood coffee table that just needs some elbow grease–those are the connections we value.
For your styling services, how do you focus on your career process in achieving what your customer wants? Is there a certain way that you create your refurbish furniture?
Whenever we’re working with a new client we really like to make sure their brands and styles are expressed. With our mid-century modern furniture rentals, we have different ways we style and pair items together depending on what our client is looking for. With our custom installations, we try to tie in our clients’ brand elements to make it custom for them.
We usually have a process of an initial phone call to chat with our clients about what they are looking for. Afterward, we put together a mood board, or style guide, to see if we are headed in the right direction with their vision. After approval of the mood board, if its a custom install they’re requesting, we’ll begin conceptualizing and sketching the design as well as putting together a proposal. We have found that taking a few extra steps to really make sure we understand our clients’ vision has benefited greatly to ensure we’re providing the best experience for them.
What is your goal as furniture designers and business owners to impact your customers’ lives, your neighborhood, and your industry?
As furniture rental curators and installation artists, we enjoy connecting with brands in our community. It’s important to get to know brand partners and clients through initial conversations, in-person meetings, and through the creative work process. Whether we’re styling furniture or creating a custom brand installation, we want to create something that is thoughtful and complementary of that brand’s story that’s also interactive and relatable for their market audience.