This online bespoke store turns waste into furniture gold

Homehero, a new online store promises custom-built home furniture that has a history, is handmade and even delivered at your doorstep. But the furniture sure isn’t for the fainthearted.

Here’s a sample from its catalogue - Impress Inlaws 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 Munch beer fests). Run by German Wolf Zech, the online store ‘upcycles’ waste and furniture picked up at auctions held in Jodhpur by the Indian Railways and creates spunky new ware.

Zech left his cushy expat position with the European Union Chambers 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. “Now 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 up in May 2012 and by July 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 of new ideas for products. “They come up with ideas for furniture. Jodhpur has many auctions where we pick up reclaimed wood, tin, railway sleepers, etc.” Sometimes the inspiration comes from Zech and business partner Jennifer Duthie too.

While so far orders from big cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore have kept Homehero’s factory busy, now, smaller ones like Ahmedabad too are waking up to it.

“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 sketch and get what they want 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 to your home, it will actually cost you less,” Zech says.

He also explains that using reclaimed materials doesn't just help the environment but also produces wonderful designs with unexpected colours and organic textures. The range includes chairs in various colours, a house bar, tables, benches, drawers with funky prints, and coffee tables.

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