Fretto is the co-founder of Neighbor, an outdoor furniture brand that hopes to help you create space for connecting with family, friends, and, of course, neighbors.
“The idea to launch an outdoor furniture brand had been swirling around in our mind for quite some time,” says Fretto, who founded the company alongside two friends, and ex-Tuft & Needle teammates Nick Arambula and Chris Lee.
The idea quickly accelerated once COVID was thrust upon the world and spaces that were historically used to recharge, relax, and refresh became sources of stress and constant demand. “The world and most of our homes were turned into 24/7 restaurants, schools, offices, and gyms,” says Fretto. “It hit us like a ton of bricks.”
The trio of co-founders found that they began escaping outdoors to find some relief from the busy days indoors. And after the fourth or fifth conversation about building a brand that would bring would bring customers beautifully-designed, high-quality furniture that is built for the outdoors, they decided to go for it.
“We believe by helping our customers create their living room outdoors, they’ll find themselves making space for time with family and loved ones to make memories that will last a lifetime,” Fretto explains.
"We believe by helping our customers create their living room outdoors, they’ll find themselves making space for time with family and loved ones to make memories that will last a lifetime."
As they began to analyze the existing options on the market, the Neighbor team soon realized that most brands exist at opposite ends of the spectrum.
"At one end, you’ll find low-cost, low-quality products. They are built similar to fast fashion in that they are trendy, and don’t generally last that long,” Fretto explains. "On the other end, you’ll find beautiful designs with high-quality materials, but at prices that might require a customer to take a second mortgage on their home.”
Early on the team built a selection of products from Restoration Hardware that they loved, but it cost north of $20,000. “That felt ridiculous to us,” he recalls.
And though some great furniture brands like Crate&Barrel, West Elm, and Pottery Barn offer outdoor pieces that play somewhere in the middle of the cost spectrum, the Neighbor team couldn’t help feeling that outdoor furniture is generally an afterthought for those brands.
So they set out to bring products to customers with designs and materials that you’d see at Restoration Hardware, with prices that are comparable to Crate&Barrel and West Elm and shipping expectations you’d see at Walmart or Wayfair.
Additionally, it custom designed and built a unique modular system that allows its customers to build seating configurations that fit their space. And using their experience from Tuft & Needle the founders also focused on adding an exceptional customer experience on top of everything Neighbor does.
From the onset, the Neighbor team knew they wanted to use teak wood in its first collection due to its strength when it comes to weathering the elements. But it also wanted to ensure any materials were sourced as ethically as possible.
“We agreed that if we were going to use a product that came from the earth, we wanted to make sure it was done responsibly,” says Fretto. As such, Neighbor has committed to using FSC ( Forest Stewardship Council) Certified lumber and Sunbrella fabric.
"We agreed that if we were going to use a product that came from the earth, we wanted to make sure it was done responsibly."
“Sunbrella’s solution-dyed acrylic is the best outdoor fabric on the market. They describe it as ‘worry-free fabric’, and that is exactly what we want for our customers.,” says Fretto. “They were our fabric supplier of choice because of their product, and commitment to the environment.”
“None of Sunbrella’s global manufacturing facilities send waste to a landfill, and that is something that inspires us, and is good for the globe,” explains Fretto. “We’re looking forward to partnering with Sunbrella in the coming months to develop our own textile built with their yarn that includes recycled Sunbrella fiber.”
Fretto believes that creating an outdoor space you enjoy spending time in is becoming increasingly important with each passing year.
“Technology is reaching a point where it is impossible to ignore its influence on every aspect of our daily lives,” he says. “We think technology has its place, and we know that in many ways our lives are enriched by it. However, we think it is important to spend time outside each day, and we know that it happens more consistently when you have a space that you look forward to and feel comfortable in.”
"We think it is important to spend time outside each day, and we know that it happens more consistently when you have a space that you look forward to and feel comfortable in."
And whether it is your morning cup of coffee, maybe book time with your kids or a glass of wine at night with your friends, Neighbor wants to help people create and outdoor space that they spend time in each day.