Founder Profile: Rana Taghdisi Argenio (W10)
“In building any business, you’re signing up for the good, the bad and the unexpected. It comes with the territory of entrepreneurship. Each day is its own rollercoaster!”
MEET RANA TAGHDISI ARGENIO, REDEFINING LUXURY BEDDING
Rana Taghdisi Argenio (W10) is the Founder of 10 Grove, a brand of luxury Italian bedding that is sustainably crafted in the US.
Rana’s family has been in the textile industry in both the US and Iran for five generations. She never thought she’d join the industry and neither did her parents. When Rana graduated from Wharton, she went to work at Goldman Sachs in the Investment Banking division in NYC and London where she focused on consumer retail companies.
Growing up in a family business she had the opportunity to experience firsthand how hard her parents worked, but also saw how they were directly rewarded by that work. While she enjoyed her time at Goldman Sachs, she had the desire to work on something more tangible and left to start something of her own.
Rana first joined her family’s business — a wholesaler and bespoke manufacturer of luxury textiles that partners with over 500 retailers, interior designers, department stores and hospitality clientele across North America. She spent four years educating herself on every aspect of the industry, gathering the experience and foundation to build a product-first company that could set a new standard for sustainable luxury.
Rana had been watching the growth of DTC brands and realized that that term direct-to-consumer had become massively diluted if not completely misused. Often the supply chain is quite indirect, where nothing is done in house. These e-tailers often use the same low-market quality, third party middlemen and high cost-markups as traditional brands; they just wrap the products up in shiny marketing.
Rana’s goal with 10 Grove was to create a genuine direct-to-consumer bedding company, dedicated to bringing customers the highest quality bedding at the most honest price. Follow 10 Grove’s story of their product journey — it’s vertically integrated, with an in-house supply chain that is truly transparent. Also, check out the company’s commitment to sustainability.
10 Grove is just one of the companies you’ll discover in our WAFFA FEMALE FOUNDERS SHOP — loaded with fashion, beauty, food, beverages, lifestyle products, business services, non-profits and much more — all from our amazing Wharton + Penn Female Founder community.
Tell us about your company
10 Grove is a brand of luxury Italian bedding, sustainably crafted in the USA.
What inspired you to start your business — what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?
Your bedding is the single thing you touch most in your lifetime — 8 hours a night, every night — so we’re enhancing the daily ritual of going to bed with our pure, extra-long staple Egyptian cotton bedding that’s sustainably handcrafted at our own factory in the US. This allows us to bring our consumers timeless quality, impeccable craftsmanship and unparalleled comfort at the most honest price.
What is it about your personal background, experience, or perspective that fuels your passion for this venture?
My family has roots in the luxury textile industry that date back five generations; however, I didn’t immediately join the family business. Following Wharton Undergrad, I joined Goldman Sachs within their Investment Banking division, focusing on consumer retail companies both in the US and in Europe.
During this time, I kept a close eye on the proliferation of online bedding brands, quickly realizing that the term “direct-to-consumer” had become massively diluted, if not entirely misused. I was dismayed to see consumers being seduced by stylish branding into buying mediocre products, which were produced using the same low-market quality, third party middlemen and high cost-markups as their incumbent retail equivalents.
As a result, I decided to launch 10 Grove with the mission to set a new standard for sustainable luxury. I believe that people deserve access to better quality products, made in a more efficient and ethical way so that they’re getting what they actually paid for.
What are one or two of the biggest wins or most encouraging experiences you’ve had so far?
In building any business, you’re signing up for the good, the bad and the unexpected. It comes with the territory of entrepreneurship. Each day is its own rollercoaster!
However, with that being said, we’ve been very fortunate and have experienced such positive responses from our customers. Quality bedding is one of those things that you didn’t know you’ve been missing until you experience it firsthand….and when you do, you can’t help but return back. This is what we’ve seen: customers test us out and within a few weeks, they return to buy a second set for their bedroom, followed by new bedding for the rest of their rooms in their house, and around the holidays, they love to gift it to their friends and family.
Three years since our founding, we’re proud to have such a strong community and loyal customer base that’s allowed us to remain entirely self funded.
What has been one or two of your biggest learnings so far?
I’m not sure if I can just narrow it down to one or two…
Balancing business performance, without losing sight of how to make a longer-term impact.
Investing in people at every touchpoint possible.
Never forgetting the financial viability of a decision.
Preparing to be unprepared.
And building a network that can support you at every stage.
What is an obstacle that you are grappling with as you continue to build this venture?
As a solo, female, self-funded founder, the journey of entrepreneurship can be lonely and challenging, especially as so many of the businesses in our space are fueled by aggressive venture capital dollars. However, I made the decision early on that I wanted to self-fund with a long term mission to build a sustainable business focused on quality, craftsmanship and honesty.
Source: 10 Grove
What surprises have you encountered as an entrepreneur? Something out of left field?
If you speak with most founders, they’ll tell you that the job is not exactly straightforward! And probably, one of the most challenging periods we all experienced was COVID.
In February 2020, when we first started to feel the impact of COVID-19 as it spread in Italy, we knew we needed to prepare as we weave all of our luxury fabrics in Northern Italy and saw risks of our supplies being cut off. We needed to be flexible and plan ahead. We decided to stock up on fabrics and keep them at our US warehouse, ready to put into production. By having our own manufacturing right here in Houston, we were so fortunate to be able to continue to fulfill orders “per usual.” And in fact, we saw our business grow more than 300% during that period so we are incredibly grateful for the support and trust our customers gave us
What has been the most rewarding thing about starting your own business?
I love that we’ve been able to directly impact the lives of our local Texas artisans, who truly are like family. Many of them have been working with my family since I was a child, so I know them personally. As a business and as a family, we’ve really thought about how we can positively influence their lives. We don’t believe in a minimum wage, but rather a livable wage. Also, provided most of our artisans are mothers, we’ve structured our factory hours from 7:30am-3:30pm, which allows them to be with their children outside of school hours. We offer paid vacation, interest free loans, and access to health / dental insurance and retirement benefits, all of which is unheard of in a manufacturing environment. This is a tangible impact I get to be proud of every single day.