FS Natural Home, and its three incredible divisions – The Futon Shop, Honest Sleep, and Organic Sofas, are the brainchild of Suzanne Diamond, a trailblazer in the world of sustainable furniture design. Throughout the four-decade run in the business, Diamond has made it her job to be involved in every stage of production, for a true farm to home experience. Take a look at what I learned through my recent conversation with her…
Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your brand…
My name is Suzanne Diamond and I am the founder and CEO of FS Natural Home. My story dates back over 40 years. In 1976, over 4 decades ago while living in Los Angeles I was pregnant with my first child, living and breathing a macrobiotic lifestyle. I embraced the macrobiotic Japanese way of living, as it incorporated macrobiotic diet and lifestyle. Macrobiotic is a whole body and mind lifestyle including farm to table for food, (local and organic) and natural clothing and bedding wherever possible. I learned to make Japanese style futon mattresses from natural cotton ingredients and this was my every night bed.
Being a new mom, I wanted the best for my child and my search for a crib mattress was challenging because I only found mattresses made with polyurethane foam and toxic flame retardants. I decided to make my own mattress for my child which was high quality and toxic-free. My newborn loved his crib futon and friends started asking me to make futons for their homes.
Once I started making futon mattresses for my family and friends, I started getting more requests from my eco-conscious neighbors. I decided to put a sign in the local health food store and the orders started coming in. The Futon Shop was born and now 4 decades later, FS Natural Home by The Futon Shop is a California family business that is a vertical retailer with 10 stores in California, a national dealer network of retailers selling our brands all around America and a large network in Canada and includes our e-commerce online presence.
As a vertical retailer, I have made a point from the very beginning that what’s inside counts and I know exactly what is inside my furniture. I have worked hard to build relationships with local farmers and local craftsmen over the years. Our long-standing relationship with global farmers in agriculture stretches from fibers and coirs like coconut coir and hemp, farmers growing organic cotton, natural latex to farmers that raise animals for hairs and fiber from camel hair, horse tail hair, cashmere, and wool gives us the edge to control our quality and quantity of materials in our furniture.
Tell us about the vision for your growing company?
In the last 40 years, we have developed an extensive line of over 30 natural futons and mattresses, sofas, sofa beds, pillows, and slipcovers. My hope is that more people will choose to live toxic-free, choosing organic and natural materials for a healthy and supportive environment. FS Natural Home will continue to bring affordable luxury to millions of American homes with our innovative and moderately prices organic and natural furniture. Seeing more people in the last decade come to us requesting organic options, reminds me of why I started the company 40 years ago.
I see TFS collaborating with more companies and individuals to inspire and enlighten families with the benefits of natural home furnishings and the ingredients within. Every day hundreds of customers reach out to us from all around the country responding to our informative blogs and wanting more product information. We plan to open stores nationally, today we operate 10 showrooms in California. This expansion will allow more customers to feel and experience the difference our furniture makes first hand, instead of simply on-line.
How do you approach sustainability/transparency within your company?
Information is power. We offer our certifications and information on all ingredients in our line of sofas and mattresses, on our website, in our blogs, and in our retail stores. We live and breathe to inform our community about the natural options available to them in our selection.
The ingredients that we source for our furniture are free from chemical compounds that harm our environment. Our materials are natural, designed by mother nature, sustainable, biodegradable and naturally toxin-free. We offer GOTS, GOLS & USDA certified organic ingredients as well as Oeko-Tex natural ingredients in all our mattresses, sofas and bedding.
What more do you think customers are looking for these days beyond good design? Or do you think that design is really all that matters?
Design is as important in furniture as quality, durability, comfort and how furniture impacts your daily life. Our customers demand petro-chemical free bedding and furniture to support their healthy lifestyles. Unfortunately most furniture today is made with polyurethane foams, which are a byproduct of refining oil into gasoline. That is how they are named petrochemicals (petroleum base). When polyurethane foam ages and deteriorates the petro-chemicals become airborne dust particles. These Petro-chemical dust particles get absorbed into our bodies through pores, nose and mouth, and remain in our bodies, bloodstream, and organs forever, making us prone to disease.
Our customers prefer nature in their furniture not chemicals. We replace the polyurethane foam cores used in furniture and mattresses with firm and support coconut, hemp, and latex coirs, which are all 100% plant-based. We replace dacron polyester batting used in furniture with cotton, wool, horsehair, cashmere, camel hair and PLA fiber made from potatoes.
How do you ensure quality with the products you make?
Each day we use our 40 years of experience to ensure that each piece of furniture or mattress we handcraft is of the highest standard, consistent and innovative. Our motto is “What is inside that counts”. With our farm to furniture initiative, we have control of every pound of material we purchase to make our products. Because we source directly from the growers, farmers, and processors, there is no middleman or second layer from farm to factory to furniture. Our 40 years of partnering and development with these sources have ensured that our certifications and quality are of the highest standards. We do not outsource our production, so with all our sofas, mattresses, pillows and bedding made to order in San Francisco factory, we have complete control of quality.Each day we use our 40 years of experience to ensure that each piece of furniture or mattress we handcraft is of the highest standard, consistent and innovative.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to grow an ethical company?
Greenwashing, and consumers’ confidence is a challenge. Consumers are often confused when they hear the term “natural” “organic” when describing mattresses and sofas. We are constantly educating our customers on the benefits of choosing toxin-free furniture.
Have you noticed a huge shift in demand for a sustainable home since sustainable fashion has become more mainstream?
We find that most people do care about global warming, pollution, and waste in our environment. Whether it is fabric, food or furniture if we give the consumer the opportunity to choose non-toxic, natural and healthy they will. Fabrics from plant-based materials are growing and of course, education works hand in hand from fashion to furniture.
Do you feel that some countries are more ahead than others when it comes to sustainable design?
Unfortunately (partly because of our leadership) America is not on the top of this food chain. Switzerland leads the world in water, air, climate and energy along with France Denmark Malta and Sweden. America designers are just now embracing sustainability and starting to play a larger part in their sourcing and manufacturing practices.
What have been your favourite materials/fabrics to work with when creating your sustainable home/lifestyle products?
I especially love organic and natural wool, which we use inside our mattresses and sofas for comfort and support but also as a finishing fabric for our sofa and sofa beds. Our wool is a thick micron, long and luxuriously crimped grown on mature sustainable healthy sheep, raised for the quality of their hair.
I also just discovered horse tail, and mane, to work with inside our mattresses, toppers, and sofas. It is an amazingly long and supportive fiber, lasts forever, keeps its loft and creates a soft yet supportive cushion. Violin strings are made from horsetail because of their strength, length, and durability.
What is your favourite product from your vast range/collection? Is there an item you feel should be in every home?
It is hard to choose one specific product we hand make so many wonderful items. One of my favorite products is our new 15-inch Mattress Set The RoyalCloud Natural Mattress with a horsetail, cashmere and wool topper. It is so comfortable it is hard to get out of bed in the morning so soft and lofty. I used to sleep hot but on our horsetail mattress, I am cool and dry all night.
I also love the amazing comfort and modern designs of our sofas made with natural and organic materials. There are so few options for consumers to purchase a couch without polyurethane foam. I am so grateful I can offer these wonderful sofas to our community for clean and healthy air to breathe in their homes.
Was there a piece of eco furniture that you fell in love with that inspired you to start your business?
The Japanese futon made out of cotton was my original inspiration, but through the years it has morphed into our large range of futons and mattresses made from many natural materials.
When I started the business over 40 years ago, California had a law in place that mandated that every component in a mattress be flame retardant. So manufacturers put toxic flame retardant chemicals in foams, fabrics and even in natural latex, polluting every single crib and adult mattress made in America until 2013 when the law changed. This was my inspiration to offer my friends and community an alternative to the conventional chemical-based mattress and embrace naturally made mattresses and furniture.
What was the moment that you realized bringing sustainability into the home was important?
Starting my family, inspired me to think about the environment that my child would live in and my responsibility to the planet, and the community at large.