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Masaya & Co.

A local’s social enterprise that originated in Central America debuts a boutique furniture store in Edgehill Village.

Written By:  Alison Abbey

Photographers:  Supplied

When Masaya & Co. cofounder and Nashville native Aram Terry traveled to Nicaragua with the Peace Corps in 2002, he learned about the practice of tree farming. He was inspired by the local sustainable businesses that were making money by growing trees on degraded pastureland, so he decided to try it for himself.

“We started planting trees and processing sustainably sourced lumber, which eventually led to furniture design and manufacturing,” he explains. He joined forces with Nicaraguan anthropologist Abril Zepeda, who grew up in the artisan town of Masaya. “She had always wanted to use the handcrafted talents of her hometown, add in creativity and new design ideas to make products that really stand out, and personify the culture,” Terry says.

The partnership resulted in Masaya & Co., a Nicaragua-based sustainable furniture design firm. As the company grew, so did Terry’s passion for working with the wood harvested from the trees he had been planting. Whereas Terry provides the structure, Zepeda brings the style.

“I like woodworking where the joinery and structure is part of the aesthetic. I think one of our strengths is that we understand the raw material and the characteristics of the different wood species we work with from seed all they way to finished product. Abril picks the thread colors and creates new cord blends and patterns, which really make the [pieces] stand out,” Terry says. “She has several other artisan methods that we want to implement into our designs as we move forward.”

One thing that remains a constant for the company is a strong commitment to sustainability. To that end, Masaya & Co. pledges to plant 100 trees for every piece of furniture sold.

“The number one focus from the beginning has been to create a business whose success is measured by how many trees we plant,” Terry says. “The long-term goal is to manage extensive forests which will always be protected from agricultural clearing. These forests protect soil, water sources, and microclimates and will be a constant source of quality raw material.”

And while the company’s roots are firmly planted in Nicaragua, Terry brought Masaya & Co. to his hometown in 2014 and recently opened a showroom in Edgehill Village as well as a temporary showroom on Charlotte Avenue. He also ships his goods to anywhere in the United States.

“Nashville is booming, and we felt it was the logical place for us to start selling in the U.S.,” he says. “It seems like there is demand for creative, colorful, handcrafted products that stand out. We can offer unique and beautiful products which contribute directly to the protection and restoration of tropical forests, and we feel like that really hits home with our clients.”

1200 16th Ave. S., 615-496-2606; masayacompany.com

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