Monica Ryan always had a thing for high-end furniture.
She designed it. She built it. Most importantly — in this age of Ikea, Wayfair and Pottery Barn — she knew how to assemble it.
After high school in Rye and college in Arizona, it didn’t look like furniture would be in Monica’s future, however. She landed a job with Lehman Brothers, in New York.
It was not a good fit. “At heart, I’m a creative person,” Monica says. “Finance is nothing like design.”
So in 2000 — age 30 — she headed back to Arizona. Monica helped her friend John Koering with the business side of his high-end wood furniture business. She learned everything about beds, tables, chairs, entertainment systems, kitchen cabinets and bookshelves. Including how to put it all together.
In 2005 she returned to New York to get married. She’s been a full-time wife and mom ever since — and, for the past 9 years, a Westport resident. It’s a town she’s always loved, going all the way back to high school in Rye.
All along, she missed working with Koering. She fed her furniture fix by assembling her own pieces.
A month ago — watching Monica put together shelves for her daughter, so quickly and easily — a friend suggested she do it for others.
Monica searched the web to see who else provided the service. Not many others, she found. (Sure, there are “white glove” specials from certain stores. She charges 10% less.)
“I can do in 30 minutes what takes some people 2 hours,” she notes. “Some people just don’t want to do it themselves. Others can’t.”
She offers the option of having items delivered directly to her from the retailer. “No mess or packing materials for you to deal with,” Monica says.
The primary market for her new venture — IAssembleWestport.com — is older folks who have a tough time assembling furniture, and moms busy with kids who lack the time.
But, she adds, anyone who buys from Ikea, Restoration Hardware or other retailers is a potential customer.
In other words: All of us.