‘We are so full of sit’ – that got our attention! We came across the chairs of LavaBird and their philosophy made sense to us: we were never meant to sit still. That’s what their STiTs do – they keep you moving and in balance while working behind your desk. Check out their story!
Who started LavaBird?
Two “old geezers”: Karsten Reints, who owns a company that furnishes offices and Frank Tilman, whom we jokingly call the Sit Professor because he’s educated as a physiotherapist and has spent his whole professional life helping people with sit-related problems, training people to sit optimally, and facilitating people with solutions that suit their personal needs.
Two “young guns”: Ramon Tilman, a graduated sociologist, and Martin van Diggele, who has a background in advertising and helping companies in finding and telling their authentic story.
What inspired you to start LavaBird?
The current office world mostly focuses on selling bulk products. Example: a company has 500 employees, all unique human beings with different bodies and personalities. Yet, the company buys 500 chairs of one type, and everybody has to adapt to that chair. We believe this is wrong, especially because all companies always end up with the traditional office chair that forces people in 90-degree angles and leaves no room for our bodies natural movement. We first tried to sell our product the traditional way: via office furniture dealers. But in this way our story, vision and the focus on “the human behind the chair” got lost, so we decided we needed to sell directly to the customer in a very non-traditional way and started LavaBird.
In what way does LavaBird contribute to the wellbeing of its customers?
The standard approach to sitting has so many disadvantages. Cardiovascular diseases, back, shoulder and neck injuries, etc. They say “sitting is the new smoking” because of the health hazards of the current approach to sitting. This is bollox. Imagine if all running sports were only practised wearing wooden shoes, and somebody then points out the many injuries of running and says: we need to stop running! Running is the new smoking! You would hope that, in a situation like that, somebody would point out that maybe we shouldn’t state that running in itself is bad, but that we need to reexamine what running is. And that maybe those wooden shoes are not the best choice for running a marathon…
Likewise, we need to reexamine what sitting is. Like Frank has been doing for the past twenty years. We believe our bodies are perfectly equipped to sit. Just look at how a toddler sits: upright, relaxed, and without any help or training. Adults lost this capability because of all those ‘helpful’ chairs and couches. We believe the freedom to balance oneself naturally during sitting needs to be rediscovered. When our customers discover sitting on the STiT, many things happen: lower back issues lessen or disappear, they feel more in touch with their body, they find it easier to concentrate, they feel more energized during work, they are more aware of when their bodies need some rest from sitting, and so on. We never guarantee these results however, because we don’t believe in a magical one size fits all solution. Everybody is different. And we hope people learn to take back ownership over their bodies when sitting and start to feel and build up experience to find out what works for them. That’s why we offer a 30-day trial. If it’s not your cup of tea, our customers can send their STiT back and get a refund.
What are you most proud of?
That, until now at least, we stayed true to ourselves, both in what we believe the world needs, as in how we present ourselves. We started small and grow step by step, without any big investments or loans, because that’s how we believe we can stay real.
Do you have any advice or tips for young entrepeneurs who want to start a (sustainable) brand?
There’s a fine line between wanting to do something good for the world, and being arrogant, thinking you’re gonna do everything better than the “evil corporations”. We’re only just starting and know nothing, so we still have tons to learn and are very open to learning stuff from other companies or from books/podcasts/articles. At the same time, we want to stay true to what we believe the world needs, so we are wary of ‘get rich quick schemes’ or growth hacks. Things that probably really do help accelerate your growth, but at a pace that makes it impossible for us as persons, or the way we want to treat people & planet, or the ways we communicate what we think people need, to be ready for that growth. Many “gazelles” (high growth scale-ups) are big for their age but feel kinda hollow. So… well… there’s probably some advice in there somewhere ;-). – www.lavabird.nl
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