With the new school year around the corner, university students are scrambling to secure their accommodation. Pegged as one of the most unaffordable rental markets in North America, Vancouver asks for top dollar and boasts notoriously unreliable landlords that frequently cut leases short by exploiting loopholes in the law.
The city’s dicey rental market inspired Vancouver entrepreneur Samantha Simonton to make it easier to control what happens inside a person’s home. Launching her business AMY Inspired—an acronym for “amazing, memorable years”—the CEO offers the chance for individuals to rent, rather than own, their furniture.
“Why do we have to wait years to save up enough to get the furniture that we like and really want? Why can’t we have it now?” explains AMY Inspired founder and CEO Samantha Simonton, who has worked in the furniture industry for over a decade. “I saw this happening time and time again, and I thought, wouldn’t it be great if my customers could afford the look and quality they want?”
AMY’s services include leasing furniture for student housing and offices as well as staging homes for sale. Its articles include everything from beds to sofas, rugs, and art, with pieces ranging from mid-century styles to farmhouse comfort. Each rents on a month-to-month basis, and the cost of a five-piece living room starts at around $100 per month.
At the end of the lease, individuals can choose to buy or swap the furniture.
“They could try on new fashions like a pink velvet sofa, pay for it monthly, and then give it back or maybe keep it,” says Simonton. “That’s how AMY Inspired got started.”
The company provides a variety of tools to make sure individuals get the right pieces. People can download the iOS app, which makes recommendations of furniture based on preferences and the size of the room. The app then displays the items inside the space using augmented reality, so potential customers can see every article in context. Alternatively, the AMYinspired.com website guides users to mix and match designs based on a chosen anchor piece.
The business was created to support a circular economy, where goods are repurposed or regenerated after their initial use, instead of being discarded. After a lease is over, end-of-term furniture is thoroughly cleaned and donated to in-need families in the Lower Mainland. The company also supports a number of non-profits in the local community, and donates partial proceeds to worthy causes.
Kate Wilson is the Technology Editor at the Georgia Straight. Follow her on Twitter @KateWilsonSays