I’ve just completed a commissioned design that proves the validity of the old saying, Be careful what you wish for.
For the past few weeks, Gerry, my woodworking buddy, and I have been designing and fabricating our way through a brand-new design concept in 90 degree weather.
A charming person in St Louis had found my Box-Carts website through Google and decided that I should make her a patio table similar in function to the table shown on my site, but of different material and vastly different styling.
I had been wishing for an opportunity to update my patio table design and this commission came to me out of the blue from the exact type of client I had set the company up to service!
Of course, the complexity of the design did not begin to fully reveal itself until we were fully engaged in the project. By then, we had the bit in our teeth and we just drove on through one design decision after another until we ended today, weary, but victorious with a new design to enhance outdoor entertaining. Click on image to enlarge
As an aside, I understood when I started my woodworking company that my designs and products would not find a vast audience in this semi-rural part of Virginia. Popular taste here runs to things you can buy in Walmart, Sam’s Club and Lowes. In addition, many furniture products are now imported from China, even in the better stores. The prices on standard wood items are impossible to meet for an independent local manufacturer.
My choice of a market niche was dictated by necessity. If I wanted to be involved in the production of fine or functional wood products, I would have to select my market and qualify my customers carefully. My choice has been to say, “If you can’t find what you want in stores or on the internet, we will come up with an affordable design for you.”
The results have been quite interesting. Buyer participation in the design process has been enough of an attraction, even in a down economy, to keep me busy. In addition, having a business website gives me a national exposure which I do not necessarily get from my participation in craft fairs throughout the state.
I am fortunate to have pulled in Gerry, a fellow refugee from the IT world (computers and such), to help me in my woodworking endeavors. Our years of experience in high tech project management has proven to be invaluable in dealing with the multitude of problems we run into while trying to build an original design. Having a sense of humor is essential also.
Our experience mirrors that of another blogger who reported that he was now making a fraction of what he used to make as a marketing executive, but the fact that he calls the shots now more than makes up for the difference in salary.
We work long hours for uncertain financial return, but the pleasure we find in the successful completion of a project like this is priceless! Our skills increase with every new challenge and there is a definite and growing local awareness that we can do things in wood that are not available elsewhere.
It’s a great life if you don’t weaken… 🙂