The couple, owners of Princess Canopy Beds LLC, made their first bed for their only daughter, Miriam, then 12 years old, in the garage with donated wood and rudimentary construction tools, Samuel Lemus said.
“The plan was to make the most perfect princess dream bed that any girl could imagine,” he said.
The company has put its other designs — which include boys beds, toy chests, wall mirrors and shelving — on hold in order to streamline its production process and begin to mass-produce beds that could eventually be sold in furniture stores around the country.
Features of the beds, which sell for $1,295 from the company’s Web site, www.princesscanopybeds.com, include an anti-bacterial finish formulation that is 99 percent germ-free, Samuel Lemus said.
“There’s a huge segment of the population that wants to make sure the product is safe for the child,” he said. “The paint we use is unbeatable. You can’t chip it off with a hammer.”
The beds come with the upper canopy, drapes and tiebacks.
The design, intended to create a fantasylike sanctuary for the child, comes complete with walking steps that have children’s names inscribed leading up to the bed, a canopy that form-fits around the frame and a protective lip built around the bed to keep children from falling out, he said.
The company has increased production by shifting from making each bed by hand — a process that resulted in three beds per day — to a robotic machine owned by companies contracted by Princess Canopy Beds that can make the bed’s frame, steps and drawers in 15 minutes without mistakes.
“We can’t make them fast enough,” Joanna Lemus said. “We don’t have all the computerized aspects yet. There’s (still) a lot of manpower that has to go into each bed.”
Each bed takes a total of four hours to make, including the time it takes to hand-paint the child’s name on the bed and hand-embroider the drapery, she said.
The beds are made in Bend by different wood products manufacturing companies contracted by Princess Canopy Beds, said Samuel Lemus.
The cost of increasing production has been the company’s limiting factor, Joanna Lemus said.
“In the future, we’ll use high-production sewing houses. There are different ways to speed up production,” she said.
The company is ready to increase its inventory from 125 beds per year up to 600 but still needs the investment capital to ramp up production, Samuel Lemus said.
The company, which sells between 10 and 15 beds per month, grossed $150,000 in sales in 2006, he said.
Since its founding in 2001, Princess Canopy Beds has sold 548 of the beds, geared toward children ages 1-10, via the Internet, he said.
Samuel Lemus responded to the following questions:
Q: Why Bend?
A: We had two reasons that we picked Bend; one was the city itself, it is magnificent and inspiring, offering many opportunities for business and pleasure.
Second, with the help of (Joanna’s) brother, Dan Harris, a committed business entrepreneur and experienced production manufacturer, we teamed up to make Princess Canopy Beds a viable furniture company by streamlining the product, making it ready for mass production and high-volume sale.
Q: What are some challenges?
A: In any company, the transformation from a mom-and-pop owned and operated business to a viable, respected company takes lots of hard work, streamlining, and sound planning. We believe that we have accomplished this goal and are ready to enter the $9 billion children’s furniture market running and successful.
We are currently looking for a smart investor, who believes in our product and can see the future as we introduce new technology and fresh design concepts into the lucrative and expanding children’s fantasy furniture market.
Q: How do you compete with larger manufacturers, especially the Chinese?
A: China at this time is a major player in the furniture market, but the children’s fantasy furniture market is growing as parents are tired of seeing the same old designs and formulas. The Chinese are at this time struggling with their children’s products due to the recalls which concern safety. This is the right time for American companies such as ours to act and come to the fore and introduce intelligently and safely designed products.