Our mission is to provide eco-friendly products while demonstrating that business can be conducted in a socially responsible manner.
A Brief History
SC41 was launched in 2008 by Michael Baetge, who had a modest goal of providing home furniture made without harsh chemicals, VOCs and toxic ingredients to the Santa Cruz community.
As the longtime owner of California Futons, which offered natural, organic and chemical free futons, Michael had become aware of a handful of companies who were creating chemical free sofas and upholstered furniture. At the same time, he learned about a furniture factory in China that was employing eco-friendly practices and producing high quality furniture using green building practices. His research into this company represented one of many happy coincidences that would soon follow. He discovered that the company was owned by Maria Yee and was headquartered in Santa Cruz.
As he began to formulate his idea of opening an eco-friendly furniture store, the second fortuitous coincidence occurred. Michael’s landlord contacted him about an available space on 41st Ave. The price was right, and although the showroom needed to be upgraded, this gave Michael the opportunity to remodel the space using low or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) materials.
Michael and his small staff opened the store in early 2008, showcasing just a handful of furniture makers, including Maria Yee. Little did they know that the retail outlet would would turn out to be an innovator in the furniture world that quickly gained national attention.
Several weeks after the store opened, it was featured in an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Within days, calls started coming in from across the country. Manufacturers and suppliers of natural and sustainable home furnishings were interested in having their furniture and décor sold through SC41. Other professionals in the furniture industry wanted to come visit this one-of-a-kind showroom to find out how they could run a similar business.
Over the years, laws and regulations governing the use of toxic chemicals have evolved to reflect the original principles of SC41. Today, with an ever increasing awareness about our environment, choices are now not only more diverse – sustainable harvested wood, nontoxic finishes and furniture upholstered with sustainable and organically produced, low-impact dyed fabrics – but abundant, making eco-friendly furnishings more affordable than ever.
SC41’s Commitment to the Environment
Green retailing means to us offering products that endure, structurally and artistically, that last for generations, without harming either the environment or the people that make or use them.
We are committed to ecologically sound business practices. We are proud to be among the first U.S. retail furniture companies whose focus is furniture that is good for us and good for the planet. The functional designs crafted by quality conscious woodworkers are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council for their conscientious use of sustainable, responsibly harvested wood.
Our goal is to offer our customers high quality, attractively styled furniture and bedding at the lowest prices possible while using solid, reclaimed, and recycled materials whenever possible.
With the awareness of an ever expanding outsourcing globalizing economy, our commitment is to act as locally as possible, purchasing from local vendors and helping American workers through a period of historic transition. We choose to support local companies providing locally made products. Some of our local vendors’ resources or manufacturing may be global. We choose these local vendors based on their commitment to pay a fair price, ensuring their workers an ability to move from a position of vulnerability to one of economic self-sufficiency, as well as maintaining the highest social and environmental standards.
Michael Baetge, Founder & Owner
With a background in research and biochemistry and a work history that included a stint at NASA, Michael Baetge decided he wanted to try something different. He liked the idea of selling a tangible product that happened to be made in a clean and healthy manner, without a lot of chemicals.
He opened California Futons in 1987, and the company progressed from buying futon cushions to creating their own which were made using latex, which was a healthier alternative to petrochemical foam. As futons became more mainstream and abundant, Michael turned his sights on expanding his original vision of providing healthy, chemical free products. With more than 20 years in the home furnishings industry, opening a store that offered not only healthy bedding alternatives, but other eco-friendly furniture was a logical next step.
“I wanted to contribute to making our world healthier without compromising style,” explains Michael. “I want to offer quality and beautifully styled furniture and bedding at the lowest prices possible, while maintaining our commitment to the environment by using natural, eco-friendly and recycled materials. This kind of true value will last for generations to come.”
When given the opportunity to purchase the existing furniture businesses, HomeSpace and WorkSpace, Michael jumped at it. He saw it as a way to continue the mission of providing high quality furniture for the home and office, while working with new manufacturers to encourage them to produce more eco-friendly, sustainable products.
“With the advent of the internet, the way people buy furniture has changed drastically. People are online doing research and they come into the store much more informed,” says Michael. But what he and his staff have found is that a lot of the information out there about sustainability and green furniture is not always accurate. “Luckily, I have a terrific sales team who are incredibly knowledgeable about sustainable furniture. Their first role is often as educators. They sift through all of the information available and are able to help people make informed choices that truly are eco-friendly.”
Denise Vivar, General Manager
Denise is a long-time Santa Cruz resident who brings her commitment to conscious living and passion for beautiful design to SC41 Furniture and all her endeavors. She graduated from Cal State Hayward with a degree in biology, and is blessed with a multitude of talents that she expresses in all areas of her life.
Denise is a sculptor, writer, producer, musician, speaker, gourmand, aspiring cello player and feng shui practitioner.
Prior to joining the SC41 team, Denise helped business owners throughout the county through her marketing and public relations business.
When Denise isn’t at the store in support of her wonderful staff, you might find her hanging out with the great folks at the Art Council, the Pacific Rim Film Festival or Think Local First. She is a consummate foodie and aspiring yogini who loves to make art, travel, and hike around beautiful Northern California.