Tell us about your business.I have been designing under the moniker of Nojo Design for twenty years. my work is exhibited at prestigious and jury-entried design and craft shows throughout the eastern United States. I've been featured on Home and Garden Television, and written up in numerous books and periodicals. Keeping my business small – Nojo’s entire workforce consists of me and my dog Suki – is a conscious choice which has enabled me to invest in my own growth, honing and developing my craft over the years. If I added more people I would be able to produce more product, but the integrity of the work would suffer, and the standard I set for my pieces means it ultimately wouldn’t make any difference in price or turnaround time.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.My 3,5oo SF studio is housed in the grand former Majestic Theater, a 1920's vaudeville theater (and infamous 1970's porn theater) on Cottage Street in Easthampton, Massachusetts. In 2001, attracted to the still-evident former grandeur and raw potential of the Majestic, I purchased the theater and spent 7 months renovating the more than 10,000 square feet of space. Sloped floors were raised and leveled, pressed tin walls and ceiling uncovered, original architectural details discovered and 3 storefronts rebuilt, reversing the decades of neglect. After completely restoring the Theater, 4 other businesses and I moved into the newly christened Nojo Studios. Shortly after, I was awarded a grant from the state of Massachusetts to renovate the facade of Nojo Studios.
What inspires you?While my style has been variously described as “modern,” “architectural” and “Japanese-influenced,” I eschew such neat categorizations of my work. I don’t have a rulebook or dogma about adhering to one particular style. I'm inspired by, and take my cues from everyday objects, nature, the world around me, something as basic as a leaf – simplicity and elegance on the surface, but with an amazing underlying complexity.
What makes your business stand out?I've been a successful sole proprietor for more than twenty years and have designed hundreds of pieces and built many more than that. Because I have always worked alone, I am directly responsible for my unique vision coming to life. I'm the designer, builder and often the installer. When a client engages with me, I meet directly with them and often visit their homes; taking a personal interest in their spaces and lives helps develop successful furniture.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?Follow what you love. If you don't love it, don't do it. Building your company will be harder than you think, take longer than you can imagine to make a profit, and worth every long night if you want it enough. Keep a eye expenses at all times. Just because a bank will loan you money it's not always a good idea. Overhead can kill a small business, creative solutions will make it bloom.
What does American Made mean to you?Being American Made means I am part of something I believe in, from sourcing local materials and tradespeople to developing commercial real estate. With a conscientious approach to materials and processes, I create heirlooms for the modern home with and eye on the environmental impact. Artisans and small business owners are building amazing things and communities all over America. The impact of such sustainable growth on my little New England town has been remarkable and I'm proud to have been a part of it.
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WINNERS ANNOUNCEDOct. 17, 2014
2014 Award Winner and Audience Choice Winner announced.See past Award Winners
AMERICAN MADE MEETUPNov. 7, 2014
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AMERICAN MADE SUMMITNov. 8, 2014
Don’t miss our networking event and maker lecture series in New York City.Buy Tickets Now
RENEGADE CRAFT FAIRNov. 15 - 16, 2014
Shop for holiday gifts at the Martha Stewart American Made Pavilion.Learn More