CEO of furniture brand Vênoor Living Wesley Pereira on going back to his roots, the beauty of being imperfect and the importance of a strong family network within business.
What was the pivotal moment that inspired you to launch Vênoor Living? When did it officially launch?
Vênoor Living came into existence during summer 2016. My wife was the brain behind the concept, since she had a lot of inspiration during the process of furnishing our home. Coming from a background in Global Logistics and Supply Chains, I decided to give her a hand in doing some ground research and global supplier reach out. Before we knew it, I was working on the project full-time and my wife was back to her daily 9-5 routine. I found myself in a situation where the idea had grown out of all proportion, due to what I discovered to be, the need for high quality contemporary design combined with sustainability in one’s living space.
We officially launched Vênoor in Summer 2017 online, and have been growing it organically to date. We have reached the stage where our foundations are solid and we are now moving onto the next step of our journey…watch this space!
You’ve globe-trotted across the world to visit factories and handpick craftsmen, including a trip to your ancestral village in Venur, India, which is where your brand’s name comes from. Tell me more about that.
Going back to Venur is always a special experience for me. This is the place I have deep rooted memories of my grandfather and the respect he held in that community. During my visits there, I have the honour of retracing the steps I took when I was a little boy, incessantly following my grandfather around (probably getting in his way!), and closely observing him conduct business on his farms. I remember clearly the respect he had for the land, the environment and the community he helped nurture. He was a man of principle and Venur is the place I go to, to remind myself of what he meant to me and how to live a good, decent life – one not centred just around myself, but focused on what it means to share, give and grow.
Although Vênoor is an ethical furniture brand, you say it’s a byproduct of what you’re trying to achieve. What is it really about?
There’s no doubt that Vênoor is a passion of mine for many reasons. We are so proud of the beautiful designs we create and the incredible quality we get to deliver because of the talented craftspeople we work with around the world – but none of that would matter if ethics and sustainability didn’t remain at the backbone of what we do.
Our goal with Vênoor is to give back – not necessarily in terms of charity but in long-term and constructive ways. We aim to be a positive force in the communities we are working with – from the perspective of environmental care and our reforestation projects, to ensuring our craftspeople have a good living wage, and exploring the use of exciting new materials that offer creative and wise solutions to the way we consume.
What does living ethically mean to you?
Living ethically can be a hugely ambitious goal in this day and age, especially as urban-dwellers with international businesses. Personally, it means making even the tiniest effort to make improvements wherever possible and to have respect for the environments and communities I live in and work with.
I can’t claim to be perfect, but as with Vênoor, I’m a work in progress and working hard to get better. I’m far more conscious of the impact of my decisions on even the smallest matters. I think when we can get to a point where we have complete control as consumers to match our sustainability goals to all of our daily consumption decisions, however small, we will have achieved something incredible.
How would you describe the interior design in your own home?
My wife and I definitely lean towards a clean, sharp, contemporary style at home. Fortunately for the company, my wife loves testing out all the Vênoor looks for the home so it’s a fairly frequent rotation of styles. It’s safe to say the Pereira household is the guinea pig from the Vênoor Living styling perspective!
What’s your favourite Venoor piece and why?
This is an almost impossible question for me, as you can imagine. It’s like asking me which is my favourite child – I love them all!
If you’re going to push me for an answer though, my current favourites have got to include the Lords Armchair which is our signature piece – a neatly compact armchair that feels like it wraps perfectly around you when you sit in it; then there’s the next level of indulgence represented in our Salon Chaise Longue – the silky velvet and deep seat mean you’ll be sitting there for a while, feeling like royalty.
In our latest exhibition, the Kana Armchair has been an incredible hit – we’ve had a couple of customers tussle over it!
Then, I really should throw in a coffee table for these pieces so I’m going to go for the innovately designed Lasa Mid-Century Coffee Table. I absolutely love the elegantly clever way you can display your reading material on this piece without feeling you’re in the doctor’s waiting room!
When you’re not working, how do you like to wind down?
I wish I had a cool answer to this but right now there is no ‘not working’ phase of my life – that’s the nature of creating something that’s both ambitious and close to your heart.
The rest of my attention is completely taken up by my new baby girl and family. My wife and I, combined, have an absolutely huge family network that has been an integral part to the development of the Vênoor journey. Without them, we wouldn’t have had the courage to move forward.
What’s been the biggest learning curve for you so far?
Marketing has definitely been the biggest learning for me. We live in a world of digital marketing, which is extremely difficult to keep pace with. You’ve got to have the right people to get this done and I suggest, to any budding entrepreneurs out there, investing in this area sufficiently, as soon as possible. It is otherwise very easy to feel like you have set up a business in the middle of a desert!
Where can you see Vênoor in five years time?
I’ve always enjoyed Economics and for me the short-term is defined as 6 months and long-term is defined as 24 months. Life for me, somehow, has always worked with these time frames. We have ambitious plans to grow the message that Vênoor stands for. There has never been a time when sustainability has become an essential part of our day-to-day lives. Hence, we see ourselves growing this message and making this term a fundamental part of our actions.
There’s no question that we’re learning as we go along – we have plenty of margin to keep improving our sustainability credentials because we’re nowhere near the best we can be yet, and that is an essential part of the Vênoor project.
If you could give an aspiring entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be?
Plan, talk to people, don’t be shy to ask for help, network, read “Brand Admiration”, follow the values of Stephen R. Covey, grow organically as much as possible, build a strong foundation first, and most of all thank God in everything and for everything!