The Identical Twins Bringing Do-Good, Feel-Good Design Into Our HomesWords by Gabrielle Savoie
Photo courtesy of Goodee
Byron and Dexter Peart believe that what you put into your home shouldn’t only make you feel good, it should do good too.
This simple mission led the Montreal-based twins on a journey to launch Goodee—a marketplace that brings together good design, good people, and good purpose—in 2019. “We wanted to curate products that were not just built to last, but also that had some impact and purpose in the world,” says Dexter.
In the early days, the duo, who previously built—and sold—the fashion label WANT Les Essentiels, ventured out into the world: “We're in our happy place on backroads working with artisans, or in factories, learning how to make things and teasing out these really beautiful human stories,” he adds.
It’s hard not to wholeheartedly embrace the Goodee mission—beyond Byron and Dexter’s magnetic personalities and altruistic purpose, each of the 60+ artisans on the platform—from Ghanaian basket weavers to Colombian ceramicists—have a mission to have a positive social or environmental impact on the world. “By bringing all these artisans and stories together, we’re building a dynamic, universal, global tapestry,” says Dexter. “That's what we're trying to stitch together.”
Photo of Tala courtesy of Goodee
The lightbulb moment…
Byron: We knew there was an audience that had started to make sustainable shifts in other parts of their lives: the food that they eat, the way that they travel... And yet, in the consumer goods space, it felt less important. A lot of brands have moved in the sustainability conversation, but they're not ready to make that full commitment 100%. Our business was built foundationally on that. Our customers trust that this is not just a talking point, but it’s our true belief system and how we operate our business.
How you curate the Goodee assortment:
Dexter: When we launched this, it was Byron and Dexter traveling all around the world, literally. And we resigned ourselves to the fact that we were going to be living off planes—and nine months into the business, the pandemic hit. But the beauty of it is, we realized that we could have a business without traveling the world every single day.
We’ve now become much more holistic with people on our team who are playing a huge role in the selection process; we have artisans telling us about other artisans in their own communities; we even have consumers reaching out to us and being like “Hey, do you guys know about this brand?” Now that we’ve set the framework for the visual language and the intention of the business, the sourcing process has become open source, which feels much more organic.
What sustainability means to you:
Photo of Golden Editions courtesy of Goodee
Photo of Manglam Arts courtesy of Goodee
Byron: Goodee has to be the arbiter. We are the trust agent, so it's up to us to ensure that a product is not only impactful, but that it's also supporting communities. We do a significant amount of assessment with these brands. It's all about transparency: these partners are doing it day in and day out, not just because we asked for it—we've selected them because this is where their strength and opportunity is. We can see it in the materials they source, the way that their companies are operated, and the people in the communities that they're supporting.
Dexter: We're a B Corp certified company. Early on, we recognized not only the value, but the importance and the rigor of the work because we do it ourselves. It takes weeks to assess companies before we bring them on board. Some of our partners could be working around with circularity and intentionality and others could be working with artists and communities in West Africa. They're not doing the same work, but they're both creating impact. That’s ultimately the goal: to have a place where like-minded partners learn from each other and lift each other up to create more good in the world.
An artisan story that really touched you:
Byron: Baba Tree is a brand by a Canadian founder who moved to West Africa in a region of Ghana called Bolgatanga and started an amazing social cooperative. Their baskets are all handwoven by talented female artisans and named after them—so you really see the maker behind each product. One of them is called the Pakurigo. I’ve gifted it to friends, I have it in two corners of my home. My dog has all of his dog toys inside his. It’s a beautiful, unique basket.
What's really unique with Baba Tree is the human element. They’ve created housing opportunities for their community and built water treatment and sanitation facilities. Their story is so consistent with the Goodee mission and it’s a wonderful partner doing phenomenal work.
Your biggest “pinch me” moment:
Byron: When we were dreaming about this idea, we got a phone call. Goodee wasn't even launched yet, but there was someone on the line who really loved the work that we had done before, who said: “Guys, I've got a 31-bedroom hotel in Belize. And I want you to design it from start to finish.” Goodee was just an idea in our heads. It was the wintertime, so there were worse places to be than Belize. And we spent six months back and forth, completely renovating an eco hotel on the second largest barrier reef.
We worked with a lot of our early partners, learning about their brands, and telling them that we were building something that had never been seen before. To have an opportunity to test the idea from the very beginning with a physical hotel gave this idea credibility. We launched Goodee in May of 2019 and the hotel opened the same month. It was a pinch-me moment to see this digital-first business come to life in the real world.
Dexter: For me, it was our pop-up store at the Whitney Museum in New York. The website had only been live for nine months. And the Whitney, a world-class museum, loved what we were doing from that early stage and asked us to partner during an exhibition on the history of craft over 70 years. To have that direct interaction with our consumers in a preeminent museum was a great moment and a really important time in our development.
The hero product you’re most excited to bring to Showroom:
Dexter: As a dad, Ecobirdy is near and dear to my heart. When we started this, my daughter Sierra was six and Kaya was nine. We had junk and toys all over the place. Plastic everywhere. And here’s this solution by a young couple out of Belgium, who saw a better way to turn scraps and materials into something beautiful and functional. When you tell your kids stories about how one of the little multicolor flecks used to be a Tonka toy or a Barbie dream house, it’s much easier to have a conversation about circularity. And for that, it’s always going to be the most emotional brand for me.
What’s flying off the Goodee shelves:
Byron: Our bright Ezcaray throws were generating such significant business for us, we ended up doing an exclusive collaboration with them this year. Goodee is a colorful destination: we’re not afraid of it. We want people to bring color into their homes. These beautiful, comfortable blankets are a perfect representation in some way. They’re handmade by a family-owned business and they make the perfect gift. Everytime I think we have enough in stock, we don’t.
Dexter: I love the Tile Throw from Teixidors, which is the complete opposite in that it’s totally neutral. The brand is helping people with a variety of challenges by offering them employment making these throws. It's a beautiful story, but the Tile Throw on its own is spectacular and feels incredible to the touch. From a quality standpoint, it's probably one of the nicest products we have on the site.
Byron: Another one to highlight is the AML stool by Frama. It’s just a wood three-legged stool but I think it's one of the nicest products that we sell. It's super super chic and it’s such an iconic item because it has a vintage feel, but it looks super modern. I have one in my living room that serves as an extra seat when guests come over but it has planters on it otherwise. It’s hyper functional and we sell these extremely well.
Why partner with The Expert Showroom:
Byron: The Expert is a trusted resource. Customers are coming to you to get that extra level of confidence. And they are doing that with us as well. There's no shortage of products out there. And I don't think people need more stuff. But who's out there to help people navigate the noise and bring home fewer, better things that have more value and meaning to them? It’s so nice for us to work with another partner who's already thinking through that more narrow lens. We feel very aligned in our DNA.
Dexter: Our intention at the end of the day is to get these beautiful designs into people's homes so that they can relate with them, use them, and love them. We want these objects to touch people. From the very beginning, we really saw these items being the important artifacts of our lives. This is another way for us to find homes for these beautiful things from all around the world.