Amid a boom year for furniture, direct-to-consumer brand Outer announced it has secured $10.5 million in a funding round led by Sequoia Capital China, aiming to become an "outdoor lifestyle brand."
The outdoor furniture brand will use the funds to expand its assortment beyond furniture and rugs, build on its sustainability commitments and add to its Neighborhood Showroom model, according to a company press release. The company will also use the funding to build out its workforce and put a greater focus on product research and development.
Other investors include Harry's co-founders Andy Katz-Mayfield and Jeff Raider; Twitch founder Justin Kan; and Boll & Branch founder Scott Tannen, among others.
Selling primarily online and in a category consumers are flocking to right now has uniquely positioned Outer for success at a time when many in the industry are struggling to stay afloat.
The DTC brand, which launched in 2019, said it has seen sales increase 1000% from last year and expects annual sales to surpass $12 million this year, as consumers invest more into their homes where many have been forced to spend the majority of their time since last March.
"Growing more than 10x in year two of our launch and rapidly increasing word-of-mouth is a testament to our debut product, the Outer Sofa," CEO and co-founder Jiake Liu said in a statement. However, the fresh funding allows the brand to expand beyond its initial product into those customers are asking for, including coffee tables, chaise loungers and dining sets, according to Liu.
The funds also allow the brand to expand its fleet of unique showrooms to more than 1,000 locations. The company invites existing customers to serve as "hosts" and show products to potential customers. Operating almost exclusively online, the Neighborhood Showrooms serve as a physical touchpoint to consumers interested in seeing a product in person before hitting the buy button. Prior to the pandemic, interested customers could sign up online to view how products look in someone's real home. Now, Outer has shifted to making these connections virtually, through video or phone showings.
The brand expanded beyond sofas with the launch of the 1188 Rug Collection last fall. The collection put sustainability at the forefront, touting that 441, 882 and 1,188 reclaimed plastic water bottles are used to make its 5x8, 8x10 and 9x12 rugs, respectively. Continuing its efforts toward sustainability may also bode particularly well among younger consumers.