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Dedon: An Inspirational Story of Building a Brand

Erin Tallman and Vanessa Liwanag
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Outdoor furniture brand Dedon has one of the most beautiful and inspiring stories. Bobby Dekeyser was on his way to becoming a famous German soccer player, but decided to launch a furniture manufacturing company instead.

He turned it into a huge success and then sold his share to focus on his Compostela Project in the Philippines. This village project helps former residents of a dumpsite build sustainable lives. All information can be found in his memoirs Not for Sale!

A young boy from a poor part of Worms, Germany wound up founding and running one of today’s most celebrated outdoor furniture brands. “If you want to achieve something, you have to stick at it.” These words of wisdom from his grandfather, along with “Defeat makes you strong,” have been running through his blood ever since.

His first passion, like most German boys, was soccer. His inability to play a field position didn’t hinder his obsession, as he became a goalkeeper. He turned out to be very good. Recalling his grandfather’s advice that talent is nothing without practice, little Bobby Dekeyser pushed himself every single day.

Going Pro

His vagabond, but happy home life allowed him free reign to create his own rules, and the disconnection he felt at school pushed him further away from desiring a typical education. He later met Pelé, his idol, who told him, “Follow your dream, then anything can happen.” Dekeyser dropped out of school with the idea of turning pro.

“I worked out like an obsessed person, based on plans that I scrawled on notepads using a flashlight late at night. I recorded detailed training regimens: dozens of sit-ups, hundreds of pushups, miles of sprints and endurance training. I noted every banana I ate. I took everything really seriously. I was thirteen when the pains started.”

The pains in his leg nearly resulted in having it amputated, which would have ended hopes of a soccer career. But a second exam by another physician identified a fatigue fracture, which put him in a cast for several weeks.

Profoundly passionate, extremely impatient and socially disconnected, Dekeyser did not have an easy time. Still, FC Bayern Munich signed him at 19 years old and he eventually became a well-known player. At 26, though, a collision in an important game put him in the hospital. None of his teammates came to visit him and the team replaced him with another goalkeeper.

Read Dekeyser’s book Not For Sale! for additional details. The full story is not only inspirational, but heartfelt. Enjoy.

Courtesy of Dedon
Courtesy of Dedon

Courtesy of Bobby Dekeyser

Courtesy of Dedon

2017: Dedon’s first collection in teak, TIBBO by Barber & Osgerby combines meticulous craftsmanship and superior comfort in a design that’s distinctive, elegant and pure.

2017: DEAN by Jean-Marie Massaud. A collection of slingback chairs inspired by racing yachts, DEAN exhibits a remarkable attention to detail, in keeping with the gracious way of life it represents.

Courtesy of Dedon Island

Courtesy of Dedon Island

The Compostela Project in the Philippines. Photo: Mau Mauricio

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