Monday Motivation from Dara Schaier, CEO & Founder of BOOP
Mondays can be rough and, sometimes, we can all use some motivation. Our #MondayMotivation blog series brings you tips and life hacks from industry leaders and some of the most creative entrepreneurs out there.
We sat down with Dara Schaier, CEO and Founder of BOOP (Built Out of Paper), a company which, “makes fun, sustainable, paper-based products for your home and life.” Dara spoke about how moving sparked her inspiration to start the company, the smell of fresh coffee as a motivator on Monday mornings and seeing her concepts come to life.
What inspired you to start your business?
The huge hassle that is moving in New York! My (now) husband and I were living in Brooklyn and moved 5 times in 7 years. Of course, we did not have a car, and half of those were walk-up apartments. Each time we moved, a lot of the inexpensive, temporary furniture that we had would go into the trash since it was difficult and costly to move it. We’d then start the process all over again by working to get replacement furniture delivered, up the stairs and assembled. I felt like the whole notion of temporary furniture was necessary, but too stressful and too wasteful.
At the same time, I was working in the printing/paper industry and was exposed to the idea of corrugated cardboard furniture. It existed on a very small scale, mostly for trade shows, but no one had ever really found the right audience for it. The furniture was lightweight, sustainable and cool-looking. I knew there was a market fit for young, urban dwellers like myself!
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Getting a consumer product made, especially if you want to keep manufacturing in North America, is really hard! The corrugated industry has been around forever and is doing pretty well just by making the same types of boxes and products it’s always made. Getting a manufacturer to step a bit out of their comfort zone, and to do it at a competitive price, has been challenging. The upside of this problem is that every day I’m building my network and expanding my technical knowledge.
What’s been the greatest reward?
Seeing something go from an image in your head to an actual, physical thing- there’s nothing like that feeling!
What is the biggest thing you’d like to see changed in your industry, and how are you working toward making that change happen?
Young people have moved back to cities, stay renters for longer periods of time, move more frequently and delay buying permanent things. Businesses should react to these changing demographics.
Unfortunately, the furniture industry has responded to this need for short-term pieces by flooding the market with cheaper, flimsier, questionably sourced and impossible-to-recycle products. In fact, furniture is the #1 least recycled item in a household and millions of tons of it head to landfills each year. As consumers, we’ve been trained to treat this furniture as temporary, and the cycle of waste continues.
BOOP’s cardboard furniture aims to change this by making temporary furniture out of responsible, paper-based materials, like corrugated cardboard. Fibers are originally sourced from sustainably grown and managed trees can be easily recycled by the average person and can then be diverted from landfills to make new products all over again. Temporary things can be fine- but only when they’re made from the environmentally correct material.
Who or what motivates you to keep going, even when things get tough?
I recently graduated from Emory with my MBA and was given the “Courage Award” by my peers for being the only person in our entire class to pursue entrepreneurship full-time. I like to think of this because it acknowledges how tough, lonely and straight up difficult starting something from scratch can be. So even in low moments, the fact that I’m still at it is a serious achievement.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to another entrepreneur just starting out?
Always be working on a Plan B, C, D, E, F, etc. In entrepreneurship, when something changes or goes wrong (and something always will!), it typically has a domino effect through your whole business plan. If you have alternatives to each piece thought out, set up and waiting in the wings, it’ll be much easier to put everything back together when this happens.
What do you do every Monday morning to prepare and motivate yourself for the coming week?
I’ve been thinking lately about how all the days of the week tend to blend together when you’re an entrepreneur and that marking Monday as the beginning of a new week of work and possibilities is indeed important. Here’s my new Monday morning plan: 1) Buy an automatic coffee maker so that the smell of fresh coffee is the first thing I wake up to, 2) Take my dog for a morning walk to think about the day/week to come, 3) Update my two to-do lists of both macro and micro goals, 4) Eat something delicious for lunch, because, well, it’s Monday and I deserve it!
For more #MondayMotivation, check out our interview with Melisa Lin, CEO & Founder of Nommery, a platform which, “connects you with the right people over shared meals and drinks.