Verity Sylvester is the founder of Branch Furniture - an office furniture company started with the mission to make it easy for people and teams to build beautiful workspaces where everyone can work and feel their best. Read our Q & A where we chat about Verity’s opportune journey into the office furniture industry and the most challenging and rewarding aspects of entrepreneurship.
1. Tell us a bit about your business.
In 2018 we noticed a problem in the office furniture market; options were either affordable and fast, but low quality, or high quality and slow, but expensive. Branch serves to fill that gap: our products are thoughtfully designed, ergonomic, affordable, high quality, and built to last.
2. What three words best describe you?
Honest, goofy, ambitious.
3. What is your story?
I grew up in Toronto, Canada and spent the first few years of my professional life in the real estate investment industry. About five years ago I got into the MBA program at Columbia University so I moved down to NYC for school - thinking I would be moving back to Toronto straight after graduation. During my second year of my MBA, my roommate introduced me to her friend, Greg, who was about to quit his job to start an office furniture business. Growing up, my mom had her own office interior design company so I had a bit of background in the space and I offered to lend Sib & Greg a hand getting Branch off the ground while I was finishing my MBA. What started as a part-time internship, quickly became a full-time passion and before I knew it I was joining Sib & Greg as a founder of Branch and have been with the team ever since!
4. What does a typical day look like for you?
I think probably any founder would tell you that there is no typical day! But I like to start my day with a bit of exercise. We do a lot of business overseas so my day typically starts a bit earlier than the average person and I am definitely most productive before noon so try and schedule in some heads down time to get through emails and tasks pre-lunch.
Every lunch I take 30 minutes to go for a walk (even in the winter!) - having a dog has been a motivator to get outside more and has really helped me take breaks when I otherwise wouldn’t. My afternoons are typically pretty jam-packed with meetings and we have a quickly growing company so my schedule does tend to get pretty hectic.
At the end of the day I try to spend some unplugged time with my fiancé - our wedding is in April so we are in crunch time for planning right now - or when he is working late I love nothing more than indulging in some reality TV time.
5. How do you stay organized?
Since things change so much at a growing company - staying organized and task oriented can feel like a challenge. I start my week every week by prioritizing my big to-do’s for the week and then I have a daily written to-do list… Nothing feels better than checking off a task when you are complete! I love the STIL Get It Done Planner - taking it a quarter at a time is a helpful way to organize things and not as daunting for me.
6. What is one of your goals this year?
Doing a better job of maintaining a work-life balance! It gets extremely hard as a founder & manager of a growing business to sign-off and take a lil mental break - especially when you are living and working from the same place. So I am making conscious efforts this year to digitally unplug at the end of the day and most weekends, create a physical work/life separation in our apartment and take breaks when I am feeling burnt out.
7. What challenges have you faced while running your own business?
It is hard to say just one… running a company during a global pandemic was not an easy feat for anyone and faced us with some challenges that none of us could have seen coming. I think one of the biggest jobs of a founder is learning how to take challenges in stride.
8. What are you most proud of?
The team and company culture we built! I am still so in awe every time someone amazing joins our team - I can’t believe such cool people want to work for us… it is really humbling!
9. What’s something else you’re passionate about or enjoy?
My dog! I got a pandemic puppy named Leonard and he has been the best distraction in the world! Also - always on a hunt for an amazing hamburger.
10. Where can we find you?
Loved hearing from Verity, but want to know more? Check out the Branch site here and use this one-time code for 5% OFF your order: STILCLASSICS