Home furnishing platform ITOOH to expand into art

HOME furnishing e-commerce platform ITOOH is expanding its platform, just in time for its first anniversary, which they celebrated last Thursday in Makati.

During the event, the e-commerce platform, founded in 2021, laid out its plans to expand into art, and adding more merchants to its list.

It offered under 15 brands when this writer explored the website last year, with offerings ranging from sofas to marble soap dishes. Now, it has 104 brands on its website, with 69 partner merchants, and 3,500 daily visits to the site on average. The company plans to partner with 100 merchants by the end of this year. Their current brands include Prizmic & Brill, Venzon Lighting, BS Napes Furniture, and Jed Yabut, among others. They have also added new categories, including bedding made with local textiles.

The company was founded when, during the height of the pandemic, Jules Veloso, ITOOH’s CEO and co-founder, experienced the ease of online shopping when furnishing an empty apartment in Los Angeles. “That was just a trigger, really,” said ITOOH co-founder and COO Andrew Bercasio. “Even outside of the pandemic, an online marketplace dedicated for the home is sort of an underserved market.”

They have also begun catering to international clients, as well as having a partnership with the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) to pitch to clients on a larger scale.

As mentioned above, it will begin to sell art, especially lesser-known artists from Visayas and Mindanao who dabble in textile and mixed media.

“Instead of buying a P15,000 copy print from a department store — it’s one of 5,000 prints that they did — you can easily find an artist who makes decent art and is something that is more relatable to you.” The prices would range between P3,000 to P5,000, with a focus on selling pieces by artists not present in galleries. Of this move, Mr. Bercasio said, “We’re all about the expression of homestyle.”

“It’s an extension of how they [customers] live, or how they want to live their lives.”

The focus on local furniture makers is still key with ITOOH. Over 40% of their offerings are from locally owned and operated brands, and they have since streamlined their delivery services to reach more areas outside the Greater Manila Area (they have delivered to a client in Cagayan de Oro, and other regions).

“I think during the pandemic, there was this big move to support local. That is one of our biggest thrusts in the business. That’s something we really want to grow even after this whole pandemic,” said Ms. Veloso.

While it began as an e-commerce platform for home furnishings, it has turned into an informal aggregator of a lot of obscure local furniture brands. Prior to the creation of ITOOH, one could have access to these brands only during the Manila FAME trade fair, or else visit five (or more) different stores to shop.

“We continue to tell the story of local craftsmanship. A lot of Filipinos don’t really have an appreciation for quality furniture, unfortunately,” said Mr. Bercasio.

“That is what we want to offer to the world,” he said. — Joseph L. Garcia