The study found that almost half of consumers surveyed were interested in buying green home furnishings if the style and cost were about the same as other choices.
Delistathis said Americans spend more than $157 billion a year on home furnishings, but nearly two-thirds say they can't find eco-friendly choices. For bambeco, that's translated to one of the highest rates in e-commerce of converting web visitors to customers, Delistathis said.
Besides funding from New Atlantic, bambeco has attracted a total of $1.3 million in backing from the state Department of Business and Economic Development's Maryland Venture fund since 2011. The state funding financed inventory going into the holiday selling period in 2012 as well as growth during the first half of last year, said Tom Dann, the fund's managing director.
"The management team of the company is really excellent," said Dann, noting Aplin's experience heading e-commerce for Williams-Sonoma. "We thought this would be a company that has the potential for rapid growth. We see them creating a lot of jobs over the next few years."
Aplin and Wapnick had no direct connection to Baltimore before moving bambeco here in 2010.
When it was time to establish a bigger corporate office, they wanted to be close to top talent in a sustainable setting. They narrowed down a list of a half-dozen cities — among them New York and San Francisco — to Baltimore, which they liked for its sustainability and ranking on a top 10 green cities list. They found space in a rehabbed building in Brooklyn on the city's southern end, a former grocery warehouse that had been converted into a wind- and solar-powered geo-thermal office building.
Since then, the company has lured experts from top retailers and brands, including Levi's, Timberland and Under Armour.
The Baltimore office seems fitting for a seller of green products, with open space, exposed brick walls, natural light from large windows and workspaces made of wood from recycled doors. Some employees choose to bring their dogs to work or park bicycles near desks. Plants hang in containers along the walls, near a whiteboard that poses the question: "What sustains you?" Among the handwritten answers from staff and visitors: "hope," "creative thinking," "birthday cake" and "a cool breeze."
Bambeco goods are showcased throughout, including a yellow serving tray that Aplin found out only recently had been used on the set of TV show "Modern Family" and is made of biodegradable polyurethane.
Most items are created by bambeco designers and made in factories, many of them family-owned, that agree to make products to bambeco's sustainability specifications.
To assemble a collection for each season 12 to 18 months in advance, Aplin said the company uses practices common to other home furnishings retailers. Designers develop specific products by closely watching dining, cooking and other lifestyle trends.
One of the biggest challenges for bambeco, as with every e-commerce site, comes down to finding the customers in the most cost-effective way, Delistathis said.
"We know the customers are out there," he said.