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Monday, Jun 24, 2024

Miramar Manufacturer Goes Green Using Recycled Materials

MANUFACTURING: LIVDEN Creates Tiles for Kitchens, Bathrooms

Stepsisters Georgie Smith and Hilary Gibbs couldn’t have picked a worse time to start their own company – just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.

Georgie Smith

“It coincided perfectly with the first lockdown, which was a bit of a curveball for us,” Smith said.

Their company, LIVDEN, makes wall and floor tiles out of recycled glass and other recycled materials.

The company’s name is a play on its use of recycled material and the rooms in which its tiles are most often found – kitchens and bathrooms – the most lived-in rooms of a home.

“You kind of live with our tiles,” Smith said. “The materials have been lived in, they’ve already been used and we’re giving them a decorative use.”

Despite the challenging start, Smith and Gibbs have made a go of it.

Based in Miramar, LIVDEN has gone from selling 1,306 square feet of tiles when they started the business in 2020 to 8,344 square feet in 2022. The company also has expanded its workforce, going from a staff of 12 to 30.

In 2022, the company won a Paris Design Award for its tiles.

Hilary Gibbs

“Sustainability has always been a passion of mine,” Smith said. “I feel like when you grow up in this area (San Diego), there’s a focus on how we’re just surrounded by these beautiful resources and the need to protect them.”

Smith said that she and Gibbs set out to “make it easier for designers to choose the green option” — not the color green, but green as in sustainable practices.

“There weren’t a lot of people in the industry doing that, especially with high design elements,” Smith said.

“We wanted to kind of disrupt the industry,” added Gibbs, the creative side of the duo.

Creating Something Different

The tiles are manufactured in Florida, Washington and Wisconsin under designs and specifications set by Smith and Gibbs.

“It’s a mix of old and new world technology,” Smith said. “Every design starts with a piece of paper and paints. We also use modern technologies to sort of bring it to life on the graphic side.”

Besides using recycled materials in the tiles themselves, LIVDEN uses recycled packaging and recycled water is used in manufacturing the tiles.

Smith said that 85% to 90% of their sales are to commercial clients. LIVDEN doesn’t have retail operations of its own, but Smith said the company’s tiles can be ordered online and are available through other retailers.

Smith said that flooring and wall tiles typically have been on the bland side. But from the start, she and Gibbs chose to use brightly colorful and patterned designs.

“They’re very unusual graphics with a lot of fun and unusual color combinations and shapes,” Smith said. “We definitely wanted to create something that didn’t look like anything else in the decorative tile market.”

Passionate about Business

Gibbs said that neither she nor Smith had any formal design training.

“I took some classes in high school,” Gibbs said, that that was it. She earned a bachelor’s degree in media and communications from Ursinus College, a liberal arts school in Pennsylvania.

“I definitely learned by doing it,” Gibbs said. “In the beginning, I didn’t know what I was doing at all. In the beginning, I was just randomly trying to figure out what worked.”

The two had a head start through Gibbs’ mother, Melinda Earl, who developed a patented process of printing images onto natural stone and founded StoneImpressions, a tile manufacturer, in 1994.

Gibbs and Smith worked for StoneImpressions before forming LIVDEN and the two companies share a Miramar warehouse.

While working at StoneImpressions, Gibbs said she “just thought I would try making a few tile designs that were colorful and bold. It just blossomed from there.”

Smith’s background is in marketing.

“I worked for a number of years as a national account manager for StoneImpressions and I got to travel all of the country and I looked at different vendors,” Smith said.

“I knew I wanted to end up in the business development field,” Smith said. “I was always passionate about growing business and branding.”


Founded: 2020
Founders: Georgie Smith and Hilary Gibbs
Headquarters: Miramar
Business: tile design and manufacturing
Employees: 30
Website: www.LIVDEN.com
Contact: 858-290-4700; hello@LIVDEN.com
Notable: Stepsisters Georgie Smith and Hilary Gibbs formed their own tile company after working in one founded by Gibbs’ mother.


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