At Sabai we are proud to be a women-owned organization, however even more empowered and creative women run our company daily.
Our full-time team is entirely composed of women and each day several other women contribute their unique talents to all that is Sabai: from design and operations to PR and manufacturing.
In honor of Women's History Month, our team wants to introduce you to the woman behind your furniture, Maribel Montenegro.
Maribel is the Administration Manager at our factory. Daily in High Point, Maribel coordinates with the our operations team to ensure that the correct product is reaching each customer. Not to mention, she's organizing the shipping and packaging for each Sabai piece. Most importantly, she's overseeing our production to ensure that the right pieces are being made and on a timely basis.
Sabai Co-Founder Phantila Phataraprasit (virtually) spoke with Maribel to learn more about her work, sustainable practices, advice as a working mother, and favorite spots in High Point.
PP: How did you find yourself in the furniture industry? And how did your upbringing take you to furniture - did you have a specific skill set or knowledge of the industry?
MM: I studied business administration Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Georgia. When we (Maribel and her husband Carlos) decided to open our own furniture shop, my college education played an important part on making our business grow. Specifically, learning about business structure has helped me manage the administrative side of the business. While furniture was a new industry for me, Carlos had been working on furniture for more than 15 years. Because of his work, I was confident that I was familiar with the general concepts in the furniture industry from the beginning.
PP: What is your favorite part of your work and work with Sabai?
MM: I love seeing how we realize a customer's vision - especially with Sabai. It is incredible to step back and appreciate that we are taking part in the process of making sustainable furniture - a concept that is still very new to our industry.
PP: How does sustainability play a role in your work?
MM: I’m very conscious about sustainability so we are always looking for ways to reduce waste and re-use materials. And when we can, we use responsible materials that are sustainably sourced. A few factory specific examples of our conscious strides are:
- Using leftover fabric scraps to make new zipper stoppers.
- We make small throw pillow covers from leftover fabric pieces.
- Sometimes, we even use leftover fabric pieces beneath the upholstery.
- Prioritizing sustainable materials such as jute (for our webbing), cotton, as well as natural fibers.
PP: The factory prides itself on offering living wages - can you tell us more about how this standard originated?
MM: We always wanted to have high quality standards and I think appreciating employees work in every aspect is an essential step to achieve those goals. Plus every employee takes a part of making the factory run. This has been our standard from the very beginning. We definitely see that our employees are satisfied with the company. For example, 90% of our employees have been with us since the very beginning (almost 4 years) - this says a lot.
PP: As a working mother, what do you hope to teach your children or want them to know about being a woman in the workplace as well as a working mom?
MM: I hope my kids can see how important is to work for what they want to achieve and feel accomplished in the making. As women, we find great satisfaction when develop in all aspects in life - as mothers, wives, workers and so on. Showing myself as a valuable worker to the people around me; including my kids, let them know that no matter one's gender we are all valuable in our workplace.
PP: Do you have any recommendations for someone who may want to visit High Point?
MM: High Point is a great place to find all resources and materials for making furniture and a great place to buy furniture. You all should visit during Market Week. The High Point Furniture Market is really exciting for us locals because our small city becomes full of people from different parts of the world. You can also find so many types of furniture for any and all design purposes. It's beyond exciting if design is your thing.
While you're in the area, a few of my favorite local spots to grab a bite to eat are:
- Magnolia Blue
- The Basil Leaf Sushi & Thai
- The Market (Phantila's favorite spot for cake when she visits)
A huge thank you to Maribel and the driven women who inspire our team each day. Sabai is dependent on your creativity, passion, inspiration, and determination.