Dims is writing its next chapter—and it wants you to get involved. The direct-to-consumer furniture brand recently launched on the leading investment platform Republic, which allows anyone to invest (at a minimum of $100) in vetted startup businesses in exchange for equity and other benefits. “We chose to launch on Republic to give our community the opportunity to invest in us,” Dims founder Eugene Kim says, “and because Republic’s mission to democratize startup investing is culturally aligned with our desire for diverse, democratic design.”
Dims has quickly carved a niche by licensing original designs with emerging independent talents such as Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, Takagi Homstvedt, and Stine Aas, who designed the brand’s signature Cleo Chair. The vast majority of Dims furniture is produced domestically through a combination of American craftwork, cutting-edge industrial machinery, and waste-minimizing lean manufacturing practices. This means the brand can frequently release limited editions with cult designers, such as the Cleo chair recently reimagined in exuberant colors by Ellen Van Dusen, who will receive a ten percent cut of profits from every sale.
Their approach clearly resonates. Though the pandemic hampered many retail brands across industries, Dims experienced propitious growth during this period. Annual revenue jumped 1,450 percent (reaching a total of $2.2 million) from 2019 to 2020. This number is only expected to increase as B2B sales prove promising while the pandemic era ebbs. The global online home decor market is also estimated to balloon by nearly $83 billion through 2024—growth fueled primarily by millennials, who account for 36 percent of the home-buying group in the United States.
Perhaps Dims’ rapid-fire ascent stems from Kim’s personal experience grappling with what he describes as “a lifelong obsession with success through joyless competition” as a second-generation Korean immigrant in the United States. “The hollowness of success was never more evident than last year, when Dims saw 20x growth amidst the greatest human suffering of the last hundred years,” Kim wrote in an open letter on Republic. “As our numbers climbed, so did the number of lives erased during the pandemic—including the life of my father. At times, the dissonance of our trajectory made me question its validity; other times, I shrugged and took solace in the revenue. After all, revenue is the purpose of a business… right?”
Though conventional wisdom suggests yes, Kim would argue otherwise. One of his greatest revelations after a few years at the helm of Dims has been that money can be made in a thousand different ways, but the true purpose of a business serves its identity. “Dims works with a diverse pool of designers, not just as an ‘ally,’ but to heal personal wounds—wounds from the insults of racism, classism, and elitism felt directly or emphatically since childhood. [We’re] a design brand, not just because design is aesthetic,’ but because design is a vehicle for culture—in this case, a redemptive culture of inclusion, access, and equity.”
As of this writing, Dims has raised nearly $165,000 from 247 different parties. This is the brand’s first substantive round of funding; Dims was bootstrapped by Kim, his family, and friends before this. With this round of funding, Dims aims to make key hires across operations, marketing, and business development, open physical retail showrooms in key markets, produce high-level editorial content about diverse creatives, and expand its product offerings with more high-profile collaborations.