In the mid-2010s, Max Tims, Joe Parenteau, and Tina Luu loved hosting their friends and families in the homes each had recently bought. They were independently facing “the IKEA stage of our lives,” as Tims puts it—the period when, as new homeowners, they wanted to fill their lives and dinner parties with things that were beautiful and well-crafted but also affordable.
The choices in the aisles of big-name home-furnishing stores were as inexplicably overpriced as they were endless. With no suggestion of craftsmanship or ethical transparency, it simply “didn’t make sense why these products were so expensive,” Tims says. “We also found that it’s really, really hard to outfit your home,” he remembers. For those who have just acquired a new living space or recently renovated a home, it can be difficult and tiresome “to piece together all the different items that are available and actually put them into a space that looks great and make that shopping experience really easy.”
This is how Tims, Parenteau, and Luu conceived of Fable, a one-stop Burnaby-based premium tableware company focused on sustainability, simplicity, and ethical transparency.
Since its launch in November 2019, Fable has stayed true to its mission and values. The company underlines the importance of paying its workers a living wage, sourcing materials responsibly, reducing and offsetting carbon emissions, and establishing clear communication with suppliers to create beautiful and timeless products. Each piece serves a purpose. “We don’t just make things to make things,” Tims, head of operations, emphasizes.
Fable’s simple and distinctive products are designed in Vancouver and manufactured in facilities in Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Japan, and New York. With a history infused with ceramic traditions, artisans in northern and central Portugal craft Fable’s line of dinnerware from locally sourced and recycled clay. Meanwhile, the family-owned business Herdmar produces the flatware made from locally sourced stainless steel.
Fable’s glassware and stemware come from the Kanto region of Japan and southeastern Germany, respectively. Both facilities have more than a century of experience in the art of glassmaking, and they craft Fable’s products to last. The glasses are chemically hardened, so they “can get thrown in the dishwasher,” Tims says, and “if you knock it over, it’s not going to shatter.”
Fable’s linen tablecloths are made in a zero-waste facility in western Belgium, and the company is working toward making all its manufacturing facilities zero waste as well. The ceramics facility in Portugal is 100 percent solar powered during the day and reuses or recycles all excess clay, broken pieces, and water used during production.
“From a shipping perspective, we’re carbon neutral,” Tims explains, “so we really try not to air ship whenever possible.” Ocean freight shipping may cause delays for Fable customers, but the company and its supporters believe it’s worth it to leave a smaller carbon footprint.
“We really believe that products in your lives should serve a purpose and should solve a problem,” Tims says. “They also shouldn’t be something disposable that you’re going to get rid of right away. We really try to design products that last a lifetime.”
The brand doesn’t see the value in the race-to-the-bottom chaos of online shopping. “Frankly, we just don’t think about targeting and fighting against those brands at all,” he says. Fable’s products are not cheap, and they’re not trying to be. Tims explains the simple but radical thought behind Fable as a company: “You can’t have a cheap product where you’re racing to the bottom if you want to maintain the same kind of product principles we have and fulfill the same values that our company really stands on,” he says. “We are trying to just create products and a business that is sustainable and producing amazing things. We try to make sure that we’re pricing fairly, and we share that with customers and with everybody. We try to be radically transparent.”
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