"Meeting Maxwell Ryan, the Founder of Apartment Therapy" – By Eric Edelson, Fireclay Tile CEO
Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Maxwell Ryan, the Founder & CEO of Apartment Therapy. Everyone here at Fireclay Tile loves Apartment Therapy–They have made it easier for people to understand design, and to approach their home or apartment with greater confidence. Similar to sites like Apartment Therapy, one of our goals is to make tile an easier process, and we have the same desire to bring greater transparency to our industry and offer a platform for new concepts and ideas.
More than anything, meeting Maxwell was great because I have tremendous respect for any entrepreneur. Starting a company, growing it, and leading it through the ups and downs is incredibly difficult, and until you do it yourself it can be hard to truly appreciate the sacrifice, both personal and professional, that goes into such a venture. Furthermore, in Maxwell’s case he’s opened his entire life up to the world by way of his company, something I find incredibly difficult and inspiring. Maxwell was ahead of his time with the idea of curating a blog focused on home and interiors, and while today there are literally hundreds of these, Maxwell’s stands out because Apartment Therapy has always been true to its core mission, “Helping people make their homes more beautiful, organized and healthy by connecting them to a wealth of resources, ideas and community online.
It was great to see Maxwell take a sincere interest in what we are doing at Fireclay, not just on the product side, but on the human and business side. He inquired about our team, our manufacturing location, our principles, and our growth. He also pushed me in a way that other editors have not, and dug deep into our design philosophy and style. This is actually something we struggle with, as one of our goals is to make tile for people however they want it, when they want it. Rather than having a “Fireclay look,” we embrace the idea that our customers should select a design that fits them. I took Maxwell’s feedback seriously, and we’ll be working to better express our style and our design principles in future posts and literature.
Image: Apartment Therapy
Some of my recent favorite articles of his include:
How to Clean Your Jeans without Water in the Freezer – as someone who wears jeans every day I always struggle with when and how to wash them.
Party Architecture: How to Throw the Best Party…Like Ever – this is something most people HUGELY underestimate.
The Future of Furniture: 6 Shops to Watch – Maxwell and I actually debated this topic last night and I think he has a good sense of my view of the “discount” world. While I wish it was easy to simply “cut the middle man out and deliver products to customers at a lower price” I simply don’t think this is a successful business model. The cost of sales and marketing when you go direct are so much higher than being a wholesaler, and I anticipate many will learn this the hard way. That said, in the near term there are some great finds for customers, some of which he points out in a great post.
Congratulations to Maxwell and the Apartment Therapy team for doing such an amazing job and for celebrating 10 years in business!
- Eric Edelson, CEO