Business certainly has been on the move for Chris Rothery, Christina Stack, and Onlyhuman Furniture. Their store now is at the fourth location in less than three years, after starting from just a 200-square-foot showroom in their Dragon Alley townhouse.
Their present Yates Street location looks like a keeper. Sales tripled in the months after moving, says Stack, who adds the adjective “phenomenal.”
She says their “modern contemporary” furniture store is aimed at “the Dwell crowd, people who read the magazine.” Generally they’re “people who are looking for a special piece,” says Rothery.
“We try to pick things that have something interesting about them that give them some emotion,” he adds.
The unusual name of their business — Onlyhuman — came from their start as a store selling one-of-a-kind pieces. “Things made by hand and made by people are inherently imperfect,” says Rothery. He’s the furniture-maker of the husband-and-wife team.
Stack grew up in Metchosin and met Rothery on Friendster, a Facebook predecessor. “I basically became his manager,” she says. He graduated from the Camosun College fine furniture design course a decade ago, and has made many custom pieces.
Rothery made some big boardroom tables, even an executive desk for Bear Mountain Resort developer and ex-NHLer Len Barrie. It was “fun but hard work, stressful,” he says. One of his dining-room tables sits in the store, made from big slabs of western maple that still show signs of the tree from which the pieces were cut.
But most of Onlyhuman’s lines are now sourced from manufacturers in Toronto and Vancouver; they get a few items from North Carolina, the U.S. centre of higher-end furniture design.
What’s in the future? It could become a central gathering place for designers to source furniture and lighting. They’d like to offer furniture packages to developers of new condo buildings, says Stack, who recently qualified for her real estate licence.
It may evolve into a full-service store providing furniture, design, and sales expertise for developers. “We’ve got two of the bases covered and we’re working on the others,” says Stack.
Check out the rest of the winners from the 2011 10 to Watch:
Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre | Body Dynamics Headquarters | Cook Culture | Draught WISE Draught Integrity Technicians | Evidents Mobile Dent Repair | Lizard Adventure Travel | Origin Gluten-Free Bakery | Pizzeria Prima Strada | Sterling Financial Accounting Services