20 People To Watch | Luis Ruesga, Zuo Modern

by HomeDecorBeauty

Zuo Modern, a supplier of fashion-forward upholstery, occasional tables, chairs, lighting and home decor for the indoor and outdoor commercial, residential and trade markets, was founded in 2005 by entrepreneurs Luis Ruesga, CEO, and Steve Poon, COO.

With a focus on contemporary design, the company has grown and continues to expand its sales channels and offerings. Currently, the company serves the residential, hotel and restaurant markets.

Ruesga, who has an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley, started out at an office supply company where he began to see an inkling of his furniture industry future with office chairs. Ruesga was smitten, and after working there for a couple of years, he started Zuo Modern selling office chairs, which is still the company’s second largest category, according to Ruesga.

Zuo has warehouses in Union City, Calif., Miami and Montreal, and it employs approximately 180 people. The company has showrooms in Atlanta, Las Vegas, High Point and Miami.

Ruesga opened up a 60,000-square-foot production facility in Mexico and sources upholstery in both Mexico and the Dominican Republic. By partnering with the largest manufacturer of mattresses in the Dominican Republic with its own foam factory, Zuo is able to “source our foam and fabric, legs, etc., from them and directly ship from a US wholesaler,” according to Ruesga.

Under Ruesga’s leadership, Zuo has been an early adopter of technology. The company launched an upgraded website in 2021 that provided inventory search and navigation tools. Features include real-time inventory status that shows what products are in stock, in production or in transit. Plus, the mobile-friendly site has a shopping cart where users can save products for future orders and get quotes for FedEx small parcel shipments for a variety of ground, overnight and two-day delivery options.

At the time, Ruesga said, “Our dealers and designers can now see the real-time status of every order and have access to their complete order history, including those placed by phone, email or at a trade show.”

Ruesga is driven by the intersection of fashion and furniture, saying that “we like to consider ourselves more of a fashion company vs. a furniture company.”

This year, Zuo formed its first exclusive collaboration with noted glass and tile artist, Allison Eden Studios, which specializes in kaleidoscope technicolor glass mosaics. This is the first licensed collection for Zuo. Each design delivers bright color with Mid-Century Modern flair and is paired with Zuo’s hospitality grade leatherette and velvet fabrics.

According to Ruesga, all products shown at either High Point or Las Vegas Markets are available. The company is constantly creating new looks and does not use markets as a means of “testing” prototypes. “We don’t have space problems; we have new releases for Vegas and a new batch for October, and these new styles don’t wait,” he said.

With more than 100 introductions in each market, what’s on the horizon for Zuo?

“For the coming year, we anticipate our industry returning to pre-pandemic levels and adjusting to the challenges we have faced with supply chain issues from the delays in product resources,” said Ruesga. “As a brand, Zuo will continue to set trends by designing innovative products that bring vibrant pops of color that deliver positivity to our retailer, designer and hospitality customers.”

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