Find the complete article from the Daily Herald March 2, 2023 article HERE.
A discussion with Kerry Farris, founder and CEO, Once Again Home Co.
Q: Describe your company / organization.
A: Once Again Home Co. develops sustainably produced, joyfully designed products that work wonders in customers' lives. Our towels, made from recycled bottles, help consumers ease into eco-friendly living and offer a tangible way for individual consumers to make a difference.
Q: Do you plan to hire additional staff or make significant investments in your company/organization in the next year?
A: Yes, we plan to expand our office and warehouse locally next year.
Q: What will your main challenges be in the next year?
A: Our main challenge is to plan for optimal inventory levels. We don't want to disappoint customers with long wait times, but we cannot hold onto too much inventory at any time. As a growing business, it is hard to project needs based on our growth and new opportunities that arrive quickly.
Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?
A: Sustainability. Customers are finally at a place where they are focused on alternative fibers, sustainable production standards, and ways to improve the way they function in their homes. Retailers have also jumped on this trend in a big way, and we expect more retail buyers at our booth Saturday, when we attend The Inspired Home Show, the trade show by the International Housewares Association. This rise in awareness from consumers as well as retail buyers will help propel change and better habits for years to come.
Q: Does climate change affect how your company does business?
A: Yes, in many ways. From how customers behave or want to behave in their homes to procuring materials for production. We keep an eye on how we can make the most of today's technology to encourage sustainable changes in the house and produce responsibly.
Q: What does your company do to reduce the effects of climate change?
A: We look at this in our own office and life here and at the production facility overseas. We ship with recycled mailing pouches in the U.S., limit our paper use, print packaging with FSC paper, and reuse all boxes and bags from incoming production. For our production, the product uses post-consumer bottles made into yarn. At the same time, lessening waste left behind. Using recycled materials also ensures that our production uses less water than a traditional process and saves on carbon dioxide emissions. Both our office and production facilities are certified by a third party to ensure recycled standards are met. Personally, we have recently bought a hybrid car and have added solar panels to our home.
Q: Is your company minority-owned or minority-focused? Woman-owned or focused? If so, what are the challenges you face?
A. We are a certified women-owned company. That means we go through an in-depth certification process each year. We are more challenged when it comes to raising capital and a work-life balance.
Q: What does your organization do regarding DE&I (diversity, equity & inclusion)?
A: We are a small team and have used resources like The Mom Project (local to the Chicago area) for placement services. They help us hire other parents looking to work part-time while raising their families. We also consider DE&I when looking to hire outside contractors or services.
Q: Does your company donate time or money to any philanthropic causes?
A: We are a partner for 1% for the planet. This requires us to donate or volunteer yearly for the equivalent of 1% of our sales. To ensure transparency, we wanted to be held accountable to a globally recognized and trusted organization.
Q: Please describe what your company / organization does to improve your community / industry?
A: We are mainly parents here at Once Again Home Co., We know that changing habits in our homes can be daunting. Finding ways to make sustainable changes but not sacrifice performance is a crucial topic daily. We develop and produce products under sustainable guidelines. We aim to help each family find ways to use less paper, electricity and water.
Q: What do you do to make your business/organization a good workplace for your employees?
A: We want our employees to feel valued and respected. We know that smaller businesses can be exciting but challenging, so we place a high priority on being kind. As part of our ongoing product development, we test products with our teams in their own homes. They love getting new products and we love getting their feedback.
Q: Do you have a company mantra?
A: Find joy in everyday tasks.
Q: What does Once Again Home hope to gain by attending The Inspired Home Show, March 4-7, 2023, at McCormick Place?
A: This will be our second year at the Inspired Home Show. It's always an amazing show but our category (home textiles) is not as highly trafficked as say, gadgets or small appliances. That's actually a good thing for Once Again Home, because our products are unique and stand out from all the rest, so we get more attention.
We met key customers last year who helped our business grow in 2022. This year we are anticipating even more growth and have added new sales team members who already have scheduled meetings with new retailers. They also have a great vendor community that shares experiences and industry trends.