The Surprising Way the DIY Movement Can Actually Help Your Housewares Business


It’s probably a weekly occurrence in my household that I talk my partner down from taking on a “small project”. From building a bookshelf out of plumbing pipes to repurposing tree trunks for stools – there are a million tutorials out there, readily available for any ambitious homeowner to take a go at (and inevitably ruin something that was probably okay to begin with). But regardless of whether the project is successful or not, it never deters us from trying again. There are few things as exhilarating as finding your next home project on Pinterest.

The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) movement is gaining serious steam. Defined broadly as a “method of building, modifying or repairing objects without the help of a professional,” the idea has spread to nearly every industry. But no other industry has been hit quite as hard with the movement as housewares.



Although at first glance it may seem as though the DIY movement could take away from your furniture business – why would people need to buy furniture if they’re learning to make it themselves? – if you think creatively, it could actually help you make sales.

The DIY movement isn’t as new as some may think. In fact, the first wave of Do-It-Yourselfers got their start way back in the first decade of the 1900s and were supported by a company we know very well today. In 1908, Sears created pre-packaged mail-order homes. These were just as radical as you’re thinking: Entire houses which came in a crate to build with your friends on your spare time. It took the industry by storm. From the year these bungalows were introduced through to the 1940s, some 100,000 American homes were built using this DIY method.

The longstanding popularity of Ikea pays heed to the idea that although people like the concept of building something with their own hands, it’s mostly the customization which is appealing. Shoppers walk through the kitchen section, picking their favorite cupboard details, countertops, and wood grain… then hire someone to put it together.

This idea is particularly popular right now as millennials move into adulthood and settle into their ‘home-lives’. Customization is a big deal for this generation, and has impacted every area of commerce. In housewares, millennials want to personalize a space to reflect their style and needs; framed children’s art, wall decals with their favorite quotes, painting a hutch a funky color that reflects their personality just so. There seems to be no end to the amount of ways to make a home feel like an extension of those who live within it.


Building customization into your products

But, I mean, you already have a product. A really, really good one. So what now?

Don’t worry, you’re not too far down the line to take your first foray into DIY pieces for your customers. And you shouldn’t wait – the industry is expected to rake in a whopping $40 billion this year. “The growth of this market is mainly supported by the media presence, be it through the traditional medium such as television or the online presence in the form of video websites or social media,” states this study by ReportBuyer.


Here are a few ways to get you thinking all things ‘personalization’ (without having to embroider monograms into your bath towels).

Allow for temporary personalization. Building out a line of entirely customizable products is both costly and a big risk. First, try adding a bit of temporary personalization – often times, customers want change after a while anyway. Adding stickers or decals to your product will be a good, low-risk first step to getting you thinking the right way.

Offer additional accessories. Rather than built-in customization of your product, you could design accessories to help your customers get the best use for them. For example, if you manufacture couches, you could sell an add-on cup holder that grips onto one of the arms. Or if you make blenders, you could offer different slicing attachments to help broaden what homegrown chefs can make with your product.

Clever packaging. Never underestimate the value of a good box. Unboxing products has become a digital-age phenomenon because it feels good to receive something pretty. It feels especially satisfying to receive something beautiful that’s customized to you. Adding your customer’s name or another clever package design to make them feel special when they receive it can go a long way… you certainly won’t be forgotten.


Amy Van Es

Amy Van Es

Amy is our Multimedia Specialist at Hubba. With a background in design; journalism experience; and a mounting obsession with new media theory, Amy thrives on impactful narratives, clean layouts, and lattes.

Tweet her @Amy_VanEs
Amy Van Es