An online bespoke store that turns waste into furniture gold

HomeHero, a new online store, promises custom-built home furniture that has a history, is handmade, and is even delivered at your doorstep. But the furniture sure isn’t for the fainthearted. Here’s a sample from its catalogue — Impress In-laws Cabinet (made from recycled wood and original distressed paintwork), Mrs Rajesh (iron stool), Hangover Jute Sack (made completely from recycled jute), Indian Railway Sleepers Table and Stool (made from recycled railway sleepers), Munich Beer Fest Dining Set (as seen at the Munich beer fests). Run by German Wolf Zech, the online store ‘upcycles’ waste and furniture picked up at auctions and elsewhere to create funky new ware.

Zech left his cushy expat position with the European Union Chamber of Commerce in India to launch HomeHero. “Now is the best time for entrepreneurship in India. A lot of people say it is difficult to run a business here, but it is very smooth compared to several other countries,” he says. The store is completely online and Zech feels that this has helped in reducing costs. “We don’t have fixed expenses on real estate, which is very expensive, anywhere in India. So all these extra expenses don’t trickle down to the customer,” he says. And because of the way it is run, the store was set up within two months. “I decided to start something in May 2012 and by July I had found a factory in Jodhpur,” he says. The firm has a small office in Delhi, while all the furniture is made in Jodhpur with the help of three carpenters, who mostly think up new ideas for products. “They come up with ideas for furniture. Jodhpur has many auctions where we pick up reclaimed wood, tin, sleepers, etc.” Sometimes, the inspiration also comes from Zech and his business partner Jennifer Duthie.

While so far, orders from big cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore have kept HomeHero’s factory busy, now smaller cities like Ahmedabad are also waking up. “Our customer base is rather niche and we are not looking at mass production. We want to make furniture for young people looking for interesting things!” he says. While anyone can draw up a fresh sketch and get it made at HomeHero, even the pieces in its current catalogue can be customised. “While it sounds like a premium service to custom-order furniture and have it delivered home, it will actually cost you less,” Zech says. He explains that using reclaimed material helps the environment and also produces wonderful designs with unexpected colours and textures. The range includes coloured chairs, a house bar, tables, benches, funky drawers, and zany coffee tables.

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