Louis Friedman’s business empire is built on boundless creativity and innovation.
For nearly 20 years, longtime Sandy Springs resident and businessman Louis Friedman has been in the foam-based furniture business, launching popular lifestyle brands such as Liberator, Avana, Jaxx and others under his Luvu Brands umbrella. The company recently launched Zipline PlayScape, which Friedman describes as “a convertible kids play couch created with active and imaginative play at heart.” Inspired by world-renowned companies such as Estée Lauder and Red Antler, Friedman constantly strives to “make a difference by creating what others don’t and building brands that people love.” We recently chatted with the multicompany CEO to find out what makes this self-proclaimed “tinkerer” tick.
What was your inspiration for starting a Jaxx Living division?
Luvu Brands has been producing innovative soft foam seating since its inception in 2002. What began as a rejuvenation of the bean bag has since expanded into a modular foam furniture collection fit for indoors, outdoors, sitting, gaming, sleeping and everything in between. From outdoor loungers to chaises that fold out into guest beds, the Jaxx collection has something for everyone.
You emphasize the importance of vertically integrated, sustainable manufacturing. Can you elaborate?
We take our environmental impact seriously. As a vertically integrated manufacturer, millions of pounds of excess foam trim from production are repurposed into Jaxx bean bag microcushions to save scrap materials from winding up in landfills. Our packaging has undergone a redesign to reduce its size by 70% thanks to a revolutionary vacuum compression process that removes 90% of air from polyurethane foam without sacrificing integrity. As our boxes shrink, so does our carbon footprint; using minimal space for shipments translates to less fuel in deliveries and fewer paper products in our packaging.
This year you launched the Zipline PlayScape. What was your inspiration?
Today’s parents are multitaskers. They’re career professionals, educators and playmates in one. We created the Zipline PlayScape to keep the children of busy parents amused for hours on end, especially at a time where the need for at-home entertainment is at an all-time high. Children are some of the best innovators on this planet; the Zipline PlayScape is a tool for them to exercise their creativity and see their ideas come to life in a way they can play and interact with.
What connection do you have to the local community?
Core to our operating principles, we sew and manufacture our products in the U.S., supporting the American economy. Luvu Brands is a publicly traded company headquartered locally, in a 140,000-square-foot manufacturing facility that employs more than 200 people. We support our [Atlanta] community through job training with advancement potential and shareholding opportunities for sewists and manufacturing technicians. We believe in the power of self-expression and that people do their best work when they’re comfortable. We foster a culture of togetherness at the factory, with each department working alongside the next to merge ideas and specialties for unified results and relationships driven by passion and ideas.
What were your biggest hurdles early on, and what advice would you give to dreamers with hopes of building their own business?
Selling more than $240 million of branded products since inception was no easy feat, nor was manufacturing sewn products in the U.S., so I’d have to say those. My advice is to pick an industry that has growth potential and, if possible, patent your products and have built-in talent in marketing, sales and manufacturing. Most important, love what you do and don’t run out of money before your enterprise turns a profit!
Food, beauty and interiors writer at Simply Buckhead. Linguist, teacher, chef, parent.