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Born on Instagram: Meet Social-First Design Studio Dowel Jones
BY: Instagram Business Team
San Francisco, CA
For entrepreneurs across the globe, Instagram offers a wealth of resources and inspiration to turn their passion into a business. Over the past couple of months, the Born on Instagram series has been exploring and spotlighting brands that are using Instagram’s tools to build community, explore creativity and shape culture.
Another business that attributes Instagram to the foundation of their success is Dowel Jones (@doweljones), an “Anything but Ordinary” furniture and lighting brand based in Australia. Designers Dale Hardiman and Adam Lynch founded it in 2014 with the goal of creating colorful, creative interior pieces with individual personalities.
The duo launched their most recent collection directly on Instagram and within minutes of posting, were receiving a bunch of orders. But their community comes to them for more than just enviable furnishings; after the pandemic hit, Dowel Jones started hosting creative challenges on their Instagram account to engage their community and get people excited during a stressful time.
“The last few times we've run the challenges, we've maxxed out the possible stories available by the hundreds,” Dale and Adam say. “We've had to apologise for not sharing everyone's work!”
Learn more about how they leveraged Instagram’s suite of tools to expand their business and deepen customer relationships.
How did you come up with the idea for Dowel Jones?
We came up with the idea in our final year of university together, when we were 21 and 22. We [saw] Dowel Jones as a more accessible place for Australian-produced furniture and lighting and created our motto, “Anything but Ordinary,” in 2014 as everlasting inspiration to always try and think laterally about what it is to be a brand.
How was Dowel Jones born on Instagram? Why was Instagram the perfect place to launch your innovative furniture and lighting designs?
We launched the business at a similar time as Instagram seemed to be booming in Australia. (We're not 100% sure, but this was the feeling at the time.) We realized that we could reach a much wider audience a lot quicker than design brands historically had, [since they’d] have to take out editorial advertising in printed formats like magazines and newspapers to reach an audience. Our first editorial campaign was released in 2014, and within an incredibly short period of time, we had people from all around the world seeing what we do through Instagram and contacting us.
How do you plan the content you create and share with your audience on Instagram?
Like most brands, [we used to] post regular images from the brand's perspective. We decided around 18 months ago to switch to an entirely personal experience — instead of producing content that was [about] the brand, producing content [about] both Adam and me as individuals. Instead of planning content, we allow it to happen fluidly so what our audience sees is our thoughts and feelings in real-time and not something that's been manufactured for a specific day or time. Some days we'll post 50 to 100 stories, and others none at all.
What are some of the opportunities and collaborations that have come from being on Instagram?
We've made some incredible connections with long-term collaborators and friends through Instagram. We were found by our American manufacturer on Instagram, who makes our work in Michigan, so the product’s footprint is far less being made locally than shipping from Australia!. When we can, we try to use the platform to support other creatives who are at the beginning of their careers in the same way other accounts on Instagram did for us. We're regularly contacted by local and international creatives interested in collaborating; sometimes they turn into long-term partnerships!
How has Dowel Jones created a community, especially on Instagram? Has sharing the brand on Instagram made you feel connected to the world?
I think because we present Dowel Jones as both Adam and I, people feel connected to us as individuals(although a lot of people think that Dowel Jones is one person called Dowel Jones). We absolutely think that we've created a community. We frequently ask their opinion on new pieces — sometimes what colors we should paint the walls of our showroom, other times what the name of a piece should be. We value their input so incredibly.
How are you using Instagram as a toolbox for creativity?
At the beginning of the pandemic, we thought that there might be a lot of people at home feeling a lack of creativity, so we began running competitions and challenges to get people actively creative... Earlier this year, we even used Instagram Stories to design an entire product with our community in real-time as it was being developed and posted to Stories.
Are there any specific stories you can share that had a significant impact on you and your work?
Changing the way we communicated over the last 18 months meant that all of a sudden our account meant more than a brand that made furniture and lighting. We would regularly have people send us direct messages saying “Thank you,” and for us, that had a huge impact — knowing that the activities we were running meant so much more than [the products] that we made, that we could offer something that didn't need to be bought to be experienced.
You’ve created art pieces, expanded production to the U.S. and struck partnerships. What’s next for you both and Dowel Jones?
We're always interested in new ways to collaborate and operate, as we see ourselves as designers first and foremost. Before the end of the year, we'll launch our second couch collection in collaboration with a Brisbane designer, and we'll also launch our first limited-edition collection in collaboration with a Melbourne artist. We work with around 5-10 collaborators at any given time, so we're both very excited for the next 12 months of releases with designers from all around the world!
Looking to learn more about how Instagram can help you push your brand’s creativity? Browse our Instagram for Business blog for more inspiration, and learn from more businesses that were born on Instagram: Megababe, Estilo 4 Olhos, PRICK and The Editorial Nail.
BY: Instagram Business Team
San Francisco, CA