Exclusive Interviews

How Medley is Dominating the Sustainable Furniture Market

It's certainly not easy, but Medley Home is doing a great job of producing amazing looking furniture that is some of the most eco-friendly on the market.

It's an interesting experience to chat face to face with one of your longtime competitors. It's something I've never really done before but I found it to be immensely valuable and validating. Travis Nagle is the co-founder of Medley Home, one of the premier DTC furniture brands selling made in the USA sustainable sofas and sectionals. Travis and I swapped so many war stories, we had to save some for a later date! Between our early arrival on the budding e-commerce furniture scene 15 or so years ago to the grocery stores we likely both frequented in Los Angeles where we both lived for a time, we have a lot in common!

I wanted to give our Couch.com community a look behind the curtain at one of many great people behind great couch brands. Travis is a shining example of that and, outside of being a cool dude, his brand, Medley, is doing a great job of producing amazing looking furniture that is some of the most eco-friendly on the market. We had an awesome podcast conversation where we talked through everything from our humble beginnings in furniture, to product design and manufacturing to customer care. We covered a lot of ground and I'm so excited to share this interview with you all.


Medley Reviews: The key reasons why Medley is successful at what they do:

1. Unique approach to furniture: Medley, founded by brothers Travis and Ryan, is committed to sustainability and craftsmanship. They handcraft their furniture in Los Angeles, utilizing renewable woods and organic textiles. Their products are customizable, reflecting a dedication to both style and eco-consciousness. This approach aligns with their upbringing in a community that valued environmental consciousness, influencing Medley's vision and operations​​​​.

2. Eco-friendly and sustainable practices: Medley stands out for its commitment to using sustainable materials like bamboo, maple, walnut, and organic textiles. They employ a 100% bio-based finish made from beeswax, ensuring their furniture is non-toxic and environmentally friendly. This commitment is reflected in their sourcing practices and the careful selection of materials that meet sustainability and durability standards​​.

3. Overcoming manufacturing challenges: Travis and Ryan had no direct experience when they launched their first furniture collection. However, their fresh perspective and commitment to quality have enabled them to navigate the complexities of sustainable furniture manufacturing. They maintain a close relationship with their manufacturing team, ensuring each piece is crafted with care and aligns with their eco-friendly values​​.

4. Exceptional customer service: Reviews highlight Medley's responsive customer service and the positive experiences of customers, from the purchase process to post-delivery support. Their white-glove delivery service and attention to customer feedback are noted as significant advantages​​.

5. Travis Nagle's background: The inception of Medley traces back to 2005 when Travis and Ryan, influenced by their unique upbringing and environmental values, entered the furniture business. Despite a lack of direct experience, their innovative ideas and commitment to sustainability helped establish Medley as a brand synonymous with quality, eco-friendliness, and customer-centric values. The company officially launched in 2017, bringing their vision to a broader market​​.

6. Future trends and design philosophy: Medley's focus remains on timeless, sustainable design. While they keep an eye on trends, their primary goal is to offer furniture that is both stylish and durable, avoiding fleeting design fads in favor of classic appeal that lasts​​​​.


Medley Reviews: Transcript of Couch.com's Full Interview with Medley's Co-Founder, Travis Nagle

Alex Back: "Hey, this is Alex with couch.com. And I am super happy to bring my new buddy Travis here from Medley. You told me in our pregame that you can dunk a basketball, but maybe not anymore."

Travis Nagle: "That was confidential, but..."

Alex Back: "Oh, I'm so sorry."

Travis Nagle: "No, no, no, it's okay. Please spread the word."

Alex Back: "So I've known about Medley for a long time because I used to run the brand Apt2B, and technically we used to be competitors. But it's been great to get to know you a little bit over our last few conversations. I'm excited for you to tell everybody at couch.com what you do because one thing I can tell everybody watching this right now is that Medley is a very good, reputable company run by very reputable people and very good people like yourself."

Travis Nagle: "I appreciate the kind words. Yeah, there's always a human behind every company and stuff."

Alex Back: "That's funny you say that because that's why I think this is valuable. It's just good to get to know you as well because you're saying we have so much overlap. So it's fun to kind of go back over the years and compare stories and deep dives of all things furniture."

Alex Back: "Yeah, we've both been at it for a long time before people were really buying much furniture online, but maybe we'll get to that later. The bigger question is, what is Medley and tell us about your business."

Travis Nagle: "Yeah, Medley is a furniture company. We focus primarily on upholstery, so sofas, sectionals, more like the big ticket items versus accent pieces. Our big focal point is trying to reconnect people with natural materials and the environment, bringing that into their home and reshaping how furniture is made in terms of materials and processes. It's a combination of old-school craftsmanship techniques with newer technologies that we feel are important yet underutilized. Big picture, we think of the home as a space for comfort, not only physical comfort but being comfortable with what you're bringing into your home and with your family. It's a space that's super important to people, especially in the living room and bedroom where they are almost every day."

Alex Back: "That's so awesome. And I know from personal experience running a furniture brand that it's not easy to use sustainable materials and have eco-friendly manufacturing processes. Explain to me and everybody listening, what does it take to do that? Like, what are the challenges because certainly, you must have been tempted to cut corners here and there."

Travis Nagle: "Like you're saying, it really is a matter of patience and perseverance and not cutting corners. Being in the manufacturing facilities we partner with, all the different decisions that are made, every little material, every layer, a lot of stuff that people don't even see. Especially with something like a sofa, you can take a nice photo, but what's underneath is really important for us. It's about being diligent and having a specific bar for every little piece of material and craftsmanship point in there. People that get our pieces of furniture say things like, 'Oh, furniture just isn't made like this anymore.' So, it takes a lot, it takes a lot of discipline because it is expensive, but people are willing to pay for that. As a business owner, as a brand, you know, if you drop your prices, you can appeal to more people's budgets, which we always try to do when we can. But we also know what those compromises might lead to. For us, we're really focused on bringing in pieces that are going to last as long as you want them to, 10, 20 years or more."

Travis Nagle: "Being diligent and having a specific bar for every little piece of material and craftsmanship point in there is crucial. People who get our furniture often say, 'Oh, furniture just isn't made like this anymore.' It requires a lot of discipline because quality is expensive, but people are willing to pay for that. We could lower prices to appeal to more budgets, but we understand what those compromises might entail. We're focused on creating pieces that last as long as you want, ideally 10, 20 years, or more."

Alex Back: "Honestly, knowing the cost of what you've described, I'm always amazed at how you manage to keep your prices reasonable. It's certainly not bargain basement, but when you compare with extremely high-end brands, your pieces are more accessible yet arguably better made. Is there a limit to how far you'd go with material quality before it affects the price too much?"

Travis Nagle: "That's a good question. We make decisions about materials with quality and sustainability in mind. We could choose more expensive materials, but we aim to balance quality with cost. Our direct-to-consumer model helps us maintain reasonable prices without compromising on our values. We focus on specific products and categories, which helps us streamline our operations and keep costs in check."

Alex Back: "That's a great point. So I think you, you talked about having this very specific focus. It's not a singular focus because you guys cover a number of different categories, but it's a specific focus. I was literally just talking about this today, like how, how specificity can bring so much value to all facets of a business. Like when you really hyper-focus on a product, not diversifying too much going out of your lane, you're more focused, more creative, more invested in the details. and ultimately, as you just described another great point, more cost-effective, like you're not spending all this time and energy in all these different areas, you're really focused on what you guys do best."

Travis Nagle: "Yeah. Yeah. And it gets tempting to try to break out and do more and more. And we certainly offer other things besides sofas and sectionals, but even with going outside of that, the core categories for us, couches, it's still pretty focused. And if something we bring to market doesn't work and it's just the price is too high or we're just not happy with the outcome, we'll cut it quickly."

Travis Nagle: "And that is an advantage of doing the made-to-order model is that we don't have to invest in a bunch of products upfront and then hope that it connects with people. We can roll it out, get the feedback, and then make little iterations. And we're constantly refining things based on customer feedback, sending surveys, that kind of thing."

Travis Nagle: "And that's, I think it really helps, over the course of months and then years to where you get this final product that's pretty well optimized."

Alex Back: "I love it. And you just talked about customer feedback. I know what it takes to be successful in a national furniture distribution company. It is not easy. There's so much that goes into it. You're shipping expensive products all across the country. Every single one of us uses multiple third-party shipping providers."

Alex Back: "It's very difficult to maintain control. Things do go wrong. Explain some of the ways that you guys take great care of your customers. How do you deal with issues when they come up? I mean, I think for a lot of online buyers, they're concerned about like, what's going to happen. Is this a brand that's going to take care of me if I don't like something or if the shipping company, you know, throws it off a bridge. I mean, I don't know. These things don't happen that often. So don't get scared everybody, but it's, you know, they do happen. It's furniture."

Travis Nagle: "Yeah, you're right. It's a big piece. It's a big investment for people. It takes a bit of time, it's made to order. So there's a lot of touchpoints along the way. I think part of our approach is really focused on making sure that people get the pieces they want. And so we offer really good free design services with an in-house interior designer. obviously, the free samples, throw us whatever kind of questions you have, send us photos of your living room and a blueprint of the new house, like whatever element it is, you're kind of considering we'll help walk you through and pick the best fit in terms of the comfort, the style, the color, the fabric in terms of if you have pets or kids, or, you know, if you want to go with a bold color or whatever that is."

Travis Nagle: "And so by the time people purchase. Our goal is for them to really have taken that time and not rushed and then, you know, get something that they're excited about. It's going to work perfectly for space. That being said, if something goes wrong, being that it's kind of small, nimble, human-focused company, I think it does resonate."

Travis Nagle: "We get feedback all the time that when customers interact with our team, they're just surprised at how knowledgeable they are, how much time and energy they'll put into each use case in terms of if it's like a damaged leg that we're replacing or whatever the case is, however, minor or major, like we'll work to do whatever we can to make sure ultimately the customer is happy long term."

Travis Nagle: "Like our goal isn't to just get a sale and then it shows up and then, Hey, we did our job. It's like, no, this is, this is an investment with time and money. And so, you know, we want people to be really happy with it. If they're not, then we'll just jump in and kind of do whatever we can to make it right."

Alex Back: "If anybody saw anything but authenticity and what you just said, I completely disagree. It really feels like you care. And, and I can see that because like I ran our company the same way. Um, we invested in customer care big time and it paid off, right? Like it pays off in reputation. It pays off in karma and good vibes, energetically, whatever you want to, however you think about it, it really pays to take in this business a hands-on approach."

Travis Nagle: "Yeah. We've always had that philosophy. Um, and it takes a certain, uh, mindset upfront to kind of like hold that line all the way through all the different times you're communicating with, with, you know, each order. So."

Alex Back: "I was listening to a podcast recently where someone was talking about customer care, a completely different industry. I don't even know what it was, and they phrased it as a mindset. It's funny you just said that. People who are successful in business selling big-ticket items or anything online are the ones who can humble themselves enough to realize that they really do need to take care of other people in this process too. When it comes down to customers spending thousands of dollars, like the best approach is usually the most hands-on, like the personal one, the real people one."

Travis Nagle: "Extra time to, yeah, and it makes a big difference. Just people call and just chat with someone on the phone talking about all kinds of details of how excited they're about the new space and, and, you know, that whole process. And then by that time, they actually get it. Like, it's almost like they know the people that they've been working with to get the sofa. And then we also use that feedback. If something doesn't go well, what were we doing reporting all the time to try to learn from that and again, make changes so that every little iteration we're doing, things can get refined. And some products were just dialed in and they haven't changed in five years."

Travis Nagle: "And other ones are like still making little tiny tweaks that a lot of people don't even necessarily notice. But we know that it's like one step closer to that product that we want to have for many years ahead."

Alex Back: "Well, that's a good jumping-off point to my next question. I know from being in the furniture industry for quite some time that like my friends and family, they don't know anything about furniture."

Alex Back: "That's kind of the point of couch.com is really trying to help people give them a little bit more insight. It's literally why we're talking right now to make people feel a little bit more connected to an industry that generally they don't feel very connected to. And I guess my question to you is like, what's one thing or some things that you think would be really interesting for customers to know that they have no idea about?"

Travis Nagle: "Yeah. One element is I think the combination of some of the technological developments that have come along in terms of the materials, CNC machines, that kind of thing. But still even with that, how much manual craftsmanship there still is to put these pieces together, the many, many hours and different people involved in the different stages."

Travis Nagle: "And so I think there's so many things, you know, you see like these videos of cars, right? They're so complex and it's just so many robots and everything's like, you know, these pieces are really made by hand from scratch. You tell us the size, the feeling you want, the sizing, the fabric, and then they're building these frames by hand and piecing everything together and everything is really in tune with the human element, even though there have been some developments and part of that then is, you know, I think surprising for people how expensive making furniture, especially in the U.S. really is. And a lot of that is just not the materials element, but also just having the skilled labor to make it that way that we do."

Travis Nagle: "And even with the materials we're using, like the natural latex and the wool and these kinds of things that are replacing a lot of the more standard synthetic pieces and materials, those are expensive and those we have to learn how to build with that because we're really only one of maybe like 1 or 2 companies using these materials in the entire country. And so there's just a lot that goes into it. And people, by the time they get to it, you know, I hope that they kind of sense the, all the love and time and care and skill that goes into these pieces because it, you know, being there on the floor seeing it's, it's impressive."

Alex Back: "Totally agree. I think that's a great answer. Like the factories that produced for us at Apt2B, you go around and it was unbelievable how many people worked there and how few machines there are. All the layers and the assembling and the fine-tuning. And that's all, it's all by hand. Yeah, it's, it's, it's really cool. That's something fun that, you know, I really enjoy that part of. We're in the business. Um, I do spend a lot of time, you know, my computer and an inbox and all that, but it's so cool to have a tangible product that's out in the world that you can see."

Travis Nagle: "And it's, you know, you come up with these designs and, and have these ideas and then to actually be on the floor and seeing people's homes. It just. It's cool. It never gets old. 18 years later, it's still fun to see these products come to life in a literal way. You know, that's, that's, uh, very satisfying."

Alex Back: "Uh, you've worked in the furniture for 18 years. That's a long time. Why don't you have more gray hair?"

Travis Nagle: "I just trimmed it all off on the side."

Alex Back: "I've done that trick before. I've also spent a lot of time and money on Just for Men. I have it on tap basically in the back of my bathroom."

Travis Nagle: "Yeah, it's 18 years, 2005. And the first idea was, um, doing customizable furniture online. It really wasn't. An option for people back then."

Alex Back: "So is that your origin? Yeah. Tell me, tell me how you got into the business."

Travis Nagle: "Yeah, I was with my older brother, um, we were living together in LA and we're still partners in this, um, this, this many years later, different versions, different companies and different brands over the years. Medley being the most recent one. But back in the day, yeah, we started our own collection in 2005 with that idea of instead of big oversized showrooms with a lot of uniformity amongst the pieces, like, Hey, let's flip that and invert it and use. Website for people to actually customize and create their own piece, and then we'll build it for you and ship it out. And, we were probably like 10 years too early with some of these ideas."

Travis Nagle: "But ever since then, we've been kind of, um, you know, rolling out different versions of it, including lettering, all the eco-friendly, solutions that we have, but, uh, it's, it's, it's been cool to see the industry shift and change over the years."

Alex Back: "Big time. And yeah, I started a few years after you, but. Just to give everybody context of how long Travis has been in the business, you know, back then, like there wasn't even any place to advertise online. Like no one had even figured out online advertising. I mean, maybe there was, but there wasn't like Google ads, Facebook ads, like it just wasn't a thing."

Alex Back: "Like we, our first ad was on TV, local TV."

Travis Nagle: "Let alone a website and the renderings, like all that stuff that now you take for granted just literally wasn't available. Uh, you know, to even like bring this up to life. So there's even a bigger leap of faith from our earlier customers in those days of like, no, trust me, this is a real piece of furniture. It's going to be good, but you know, it now we're able to kind of tell that story a little bit better and bring it to life, but, it's been a journey for sure over the years."

Alex Back: "I got a fun one for you. So there are a lot of design trends over the years that I've seen and like, we'll get like sort of presented or like factory manager be like, 'Hey, what do you think about this?' And be like, 'No, no, no, no, no, please no.' Or like I was at the Vegas furniture market, which is a big convention where everybody, you know, sort of sells their wares in the industry."

Alex Back: "And I always walk around and like, you start to see certain trends, like this Chunky corduroy. It's something that I never thought would come back. Are you guys doing any chunky corduroy yet?"

Travis Nagle: "But the nineties are back, you know, from the pants to the sofa, apparently."

Alex Back: "I guess so. Are there any trends that you've been particularly afraid of or had to avoid or anything that's on your mind?"

Travis Nagle: "You know, very like a lot of floral prints and, a lot of skirts and different things like on the framing and very overstuffed. I get it that it's like very cozy and warm feeling, but I think kind of for us, we want to have something a bit more timeless and a bit easier to fold into different styles for people and kind of, you know, have that longevity piece that we talk about."

Alex Back: "Have any of your fabric suppliers pitched to you monster fur yet?"

Travis Nagle: "No, I haven't heard that term. I can assume what you're talking about, but I've seen some of the accent chairs with like, it looks like, you know, stuff from Sesame Street or something."

Alex Back: "Snuffleupagus."

Travis Nagle: "Yeah. So we definitely have some chunky fabrics and some bouclés and things with some nice texture to it, but so far haven't gone for the full, I think like shearling is another one that comes around. I get it though for certain accent pieces. I think it totally makes sense. But, um, yeah, was going to think about like sitting down and watching a movie or something on a sofa for that long. I feel like it might be a bit too, uh, a bit too much hair going on there."

Alex Back: "Too much hair. I love it. Alright. Here's my last question for you, and thank you so much for all your time."

Alex Back: "I don't think I've ever seen as many buttons on one shirt. Now, I'm gonna set the over-under at nine buttons. Does your shirt have more than nine buttons?"

Travis Nagle: "Let's see. I've never counted. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7... 8"

Alex Back: "Ooh, so close. Just standard, I guess."

Travis Nagle: "Maybe that'll be the new trend in sofas, you know, we just came up with it right now. Just extra buttons, all the way down."

Alex Back: "I think we just did it. Well, you're welcome, everybody listening. So there you have it. Medley's the company. Travis is the guy. Thank you so much for your time. I think your genuine and authentic nature comes through. And just the fact that you're a nice person is really helpful. I think for people to see that, as you said before, there are real people behind these brands, not just Instagram ads and robots and factories."

Alex Back: "We really care, and I really appreciate your time, man. Thank you so much."

Travis Nagle: "It was a pleasure. Thanks so much. I loved every bit of it."


A smiling man with short brown hair and a beard stands on a beach during sunset. He is wearing a black short-sleeved shirt with small white dots. The ocean and sandy shore are in the background, creating a warm and relaxed atmosphere.
Alex Back is the founder and CEO of Couch.com. Previously, he was the co-founder and COO of the popular furniture brand, Apt2B, which was acquired by a large US retail furniture chain in 2018. He worked to integrate Apt2B, one of the very first online furniture retailers on the Shopify platform, into the operations of the 100 year old larger business entity and was deeply immersed in the business operations of both online and brick and mortar retail for 4 years before leaving in 2023 to start Couch.com. Working in various parts of the furniture industry since 2004, he has 20 years experience in retail sales, e-commerce, marketing, operations, logistics and wholesale manufacturing and distribution. He has worked extensively with partners such as Costco, Bed Bath and Beyond and Amazon and his work has been highlighted in many publications such as Forbes, CNN and HGTV, among others. Alex is delighted to bring his experience and authority on couches and the furniture industry to this platform, along with many of his industry colleagues who are helping him keep the Couch.com audience informed and engaged on a daily basis.
Alex Back
Couch.com CEO & Founder