"Many of us spend over 90% of each day indoors. From our homes to our offices and the commutes in between, it seems like we've forgotten what it's like to spend quality time outside. Yet, we know it's something we need more of," says the brand's co-founder and CEO, Jiake Liu.
Research shows that spending time outdoors can make us healthier and happier – even lowering blood pressure and reducing stress. So why aren't more of us spending time in our outdoor spaces? After all, spending time outside can be simple as stepping out of your own backdoor.
Liu and his co-founder Terry Lin started Outer to solve this problem.
"Outer creates durable and eco-conscious outdoor furniture designed to help people live better outside," says Liu. But to achieve its mission to help people live better outside, Liu and Lin realized they needed to rethink outdoor furniture from the ground up.
"After studying existing products, we realized that outdoor furniture was an afterthought. It was clear that we needed to purposely create products designed for better living outside."
"After studying existing products, we realized that outdoor furniture was an afterthought. It was clear that we needed to purposely create products designed for better living outside," Liu explains. "When you look at what's offered in outdoor furniture at the big box retailers, it's not durable or comfortable; it's built to be disposable."
With Outer, the duo knew they needed to challenge everything about outdoor products — from how they're designed to how they're sold. This was no small task. "Designing for the outdoors is tough," says Liu. The team behind Outer has spent years researching what makes the highest quality outdoor furniture in the world and used the latest advancements in materials technology to make the best possible product.
"Each Outer product provides a novel solution to a problem that has kept people from spending more time outside."
The brand leaves no stone unturned in its quest to help people live better outside. "Each Outer product provides a novel solution to a problem that has kept people from spending more time outside," says Liu.
For example, its newest Fire Pit Table integrates a built-in cooking surface that redirects heat outwards, not upward - meaning that both hosts and guests can cook, eat, and socialize around the Pit together, without having to dash away from the group to operate the grill. Another example is its Bug Shield Blanket, which is made with recycled fibers infused with Bug Shield Technology, helping families spend more time enjoying the outdoors and less time worrying about bug bites.
The best quality, responsibly-sourced materials
"Outer is a materials science company disguised as an outdoor living company," says Liu. It's impossible to build the highest-quality outdoor furniture without the best materials. "While our competitors have sacrificed sustainability for durability, we've created proprietary materials that are eco-friendly and guaranteed to last season after season."
"Our Aluminum collection, for example, is guaranteed to stand up to every day use for a decade and is completely recyclable after its long lifespan. Our All-Weather Wicker is not only more durable than traditional wicker but made from recycled plastic water bottles diverted from landfills and waterways," Liu explains.
"Outer is on a mission to fight fast furniture; we use sustainable materials to build products that stand the test of time."
As with fast fashion, 'fast furniture' has significant environmental consequences; poorly made pieces end up in the landfill after only one season and a handful of uses. "Not only does fast furniture rapidly deplete our planet's natural resources, but it also creates a huge waste problem," says Liu. "Outer is on a mission to fight fast furniture; we use sustainable materials to build products that stand the test of time."
In June 2021, Outer partnered with Climate Neutral, an environmental organization dedicated to decreasing global carbon emissions, and officially became Climate Neutral Certified in November. Outer offsets its carbon footprint by investing in climate change solutions, including wind energy in China, reforestation in Brazil, clean cookstoves in Kenya, avoiding deforestation in Peru, and repurposing crop residue into biofuel in India.
Life outside isn't just about reconnecting with nature and getting away from the screens that dominate our lives indoors. It's about connection to people, too — our friends, family, and the local community.
Outer aims to connect people from all walks of life. "We're a collection of familiar and unfamiliar faces, bound together by our values, and a sense of pride around makes each of us unique. We are building a community to connect backyard enthusiasts around the globe," says Liu.
Outer brings people together through its Neighborhood Showrooms, a program that transforms customers' backyards into a uniquely intimate and hands-on shopping experience.
"We wanted our consumers to be able to experience Outer products in the outdoor spaces of real customers while building a community of backyard enthusiasts."
"We wanted our consumers to be able to experience Outer products in the outdoor spaces of real customers while building a community of backyard enthusiasts," Liu explains. "Our Neighborhood Showroom program is a revolutionary new way to shop for outdoor furniture. See, touch, and ask questions about Outer products in the outdoor spaces of neighbors who use them every day. There's no pressure to buy— just enjoy the chance to experience Outer in person and hear from real customers."
"Our Neighborhood Showrooms are more than just a peer-to-peer showroom concept, but rather a localized approach to engaging with people through the communities, cultures, and conversations that define the neighborhoods they live in," adds Liu.
Last Fall, Outer closed a round of $50 million Series B to help further the brand's goal of developing new sustainable materials, building an eco-friendly supply chain, and expanding its product offering and community.