It's no surprise that as a family-owned business, we love other family/husband-wife teams. In anticipation of some exciting things we've got cooking with our friends at Newport Cottages in November so we wanted to take a minute to sit down with co-founder, Pockets Alvarez, and chat about how they got their start and how they've grown since then.
Nook: First things first, how many kids do you have and what are their ages?
We have three boys: Andrew (21), Matthew (17) and Elijah (15). It’s unbelievable how quickly they’ve grown up as we now have two away in college. Before we realize it, we’ll be empty nesters.
Nook: Newport Cottages has been around since the late 90's. Tell us a little bit about how and why you got started.
I know you hear it all of the time, but it began when we were looking for furniture for our own kids. We just couldn’t find well-made, hardwood furniture in unique finishes. Everything was imported, made from particle board or MDF (Medium-density Fibreboard), with very limited selections for the finish. We were already in the furniture industry but were only focused on the home, so we decided to introduce a baby and kids collection and, before we knew it, we found our niche.
Nook: We love that Newport Cottages is a family-owned and operated company but we also know that not everyone would be able to work alongside their significant other. How do you two make it work?
It definitely has its challenges, however it’s important that we separate our roles and responsibilities. My wife Cristina is much more focused on the retail part of the business, while I spend my time at the factory overseeing the wholesale part of the business. Mutual respect and patience are also key.
Nook: What advice do you have for other husband and wife entrepreneurs getting started?
I would advise taking some time to identify each other’s areas of strength and weakness. You will more than likely discover that one person is better at administrative areas or developing processes and structure, while the other is more of a people person and is sales- and action-driven. Once those are identified, we naturally fall into our Individual roles and responsibilities.
Nook: Like Nook, all of your products are made in the USA. What drove that decision?
Our desire to create a quality product and to have the flexibility of customization is what first led us to this USA-made decision. Now we see other added benefits such as local job creation, purchasing from local vendors, and the impact we make in the lives of many of our employees.
Nook: Most furniture companies in the baby space sell their products in the major baby retail stores like Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby. When did you decide to open your flagship store in Newport Beach and how has it changed your business?
We opened our flagship store in Newport Beach, CA in May of 2010. We knew the area well and it was lacking a baby and kids boutique. Over the years, the retail showroom has helped us understand the many challenges faced by our dealers across the country. One of these challenges is unique product offering, especially at a time where large big box retailers and online competition is at a peak. Giving brick and mortar specialty stores a product that is somewhat exclusive, and the ability to be customized, is a powerful tool.
Nook: We know you sell a lot of different brands in the store. What made you fall in love with Nook?
Nook has many of the same characteristics and values that are important to us and many new parents. A few of the reasons we love Nook are because Nook is made in the USA, uses quality materials in their product and promotes a healthy nursery environment. The breathability and moisture protection is a huge benefit. Not only is it a beautiful-looking product but also the wide array of color offerings are a perfect way to individualize your room.
Nook: Looking back, what advice would you give to yourselves before starting the company?
Our advice would be to enjoy the journey. As an entrepreneur, you have a vision and you strive relentlessly to reach your goals. There will be setbacks, disappointments, difficult times, etc. and your goals sometimes may seem far away and even unattainable. Have faith that things will develop on their own time, and replace your anxiety with gratitude. Remember this is your life, it’s not a trial run or a rehearsal. Years will pass faster than you realize.
Nook: What have been some of your favorite parenting moments?
Really just hanging out with the kids and watching them interact with each other. Whether it's on vacation or just a weekday afternoon, we love to watch them, hear their conversations and see how their maturity develops over the years.
Nook: Do you have any Nook products in your own home?
Nook: What has been your favorite piece/project that you’ve worked on in the last year?
This past year, we have worked on our newest “Artisan Collection.” It’s always fun to come up with new designs and finishes—and watching the development of each stage is rewarding and exciting. We look forward to launching this collection Fall of 2017.
Nook: If there were a Newport Cottages nursery collection to describe you and your style, what would it be and why?
I guess mine would be the Skylar Collection. For me, the mid-century modern look is a perfect mix of vintage and modern. I also love the Palm Springs area and this collection brings to mind great memories. Cristy chose the Beverly Collection. She loves color and experimenting with new looks. This collection looks amazing in so many different finishes and fabric combinations.