Epona Co. Designer Bean Bags was founded in approximately 2010 by Rikki-May and Matt, based in Kingscliff, NSW, a beautiful seaside town between Byron Bay and the Gold Coast. Its humble beginnings were in the local Byron and Gold Coast markets selling designer bean bags developed by Rikki-May with her interior designer flare. She has a passion for horses which influenced the name - Epona Co. As the business grew, and retail developed online, they moved the business from the markets and created a vibrant and quickly growing business online.
In 2018, Bruce and Pip from the Sunshine Coast bought Epona Co. with the goal of continuing its growth as Australia’s leading luxury outdoor and pool bean bag company. In order to capture the feeling the bean bags give, they removed the ‘Designer’ from the name and inserted ‘Lifestyle’.
With Bruce’s environmental, health & safety and quality background and Pip’s nursing experience, they were very keen to see the ethics and workmanship behind the business to ensure it aligned with their values. Consequently, Pip travelled to our manufacturer in China to visit the factory and review it for both ethical practices and quality workmanship. She found a very supportive family-operated business that looked after their workers; there was a sense of true respect throughout the organisation for the owners. It was lovely to see. They were very hospitable. She also noted a very high level of on-site quality assurance. Machines cut out beanbag templates from up to 50 pieces of fabric at a time. Each beanbag cover was then sewn by hand into the high-quality fabric pieces our customers have come to love (we use only the best-quality YKK safety zips, and our designs are unique to Epona Co.).
While in China, Pip also visited the Canton Fair to assess the ability of other suppliers to fulfil our customers’ needs and meet our requirements for quality and volume. After that trip, they realised there were manufacturers who could supply fabric that was significantly superior to the material we were using. They proceeded to investigate the top-quality outdoor fabrics provided by the various fabric manufacturers around the world, and chose a mix of acrylic and olefin materials designed to last in outdoor conditions for years without fading or breaking down. Both fabrics still offered the fantastic, vibrant colours customers loved, but had much better durability, which meant they could offer a three-year warranty on the fabrics of our beanbags.
Having a single-source supplier was a high risk to the business however, so Bruce started building relationships with other suppliers in countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, and Indonesia, as well as locally on the Sunshine Coast in Australia. Samples were made they developed the workmanship of suppliers to the quality that was needed.
As the world was hit by COVID-19, Bruce and Pip could see there would be supply issues over the next year or two. They immediately boarded a plane – despite the unknown risks – and visited some of the suppliers they’d been liaising with to ensure both their ethical practices and their ability to meet demand, as well as to provide on-site guidance as to the standard of bean bag expected by customers.
The trip was a great success, opening the range up from four or five colours to the full range of colours currently available – Epona Co. truly became a provider of designer beanbags. The new manufacturer can now make any size or shape of beanbag in any colour ... and can even include corporate branding and other personalised touches a client may require.
Epona Co. control the make and quality of the fabric, zips and thread that go into their beanbags to ensure they last significantly longer than those of competitors. They of course also use their own products at home, in the garden, and in the pool, and encourage their three teenage boys to give them the roughest experience they can provide. They want to know any weak points of the beanbags so they can improve them ... and the boys are very well-qualified to deliver vigorous testing treatments! Bruce's experience with quality systems and continuous improvement guides Epona Co. so that the beanbags don't exhibit the same fault twice and so that they can reproduce quality products again and again.
Explore the great range of Epona Co. lifestyle bean bags on their website, and you can reach out to Bruce or Pip via the Contact Us page https://eponaco.com.au/pages/contact-us