Tell us about your business.The idea comes from my sophomore year at RISD. I asked my dad to help me make a bed for my first apartment. He added to the project a requirement of needing no tools to assemble it--he didn't want to spend hours putting the bed together after driving 4 hours to get there. 20 years later we were still talking about how to make really good looking, quality furniture that is easy to assemble. I woke up one night in a semi-dream state, grabbed my sketchbook and created what would become the cornerstone prototype to the brand. The next morning I went to work and instead of working on my clients projects, I created a cardboard model. I ran over to the tin knocker's shop around the corner from my architecture office and had 4 pieces bent out of metal. It worked! From there I added to the line, modifying the original shape & developing our hardware system, ultimately creating our brand language & signature look.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.It started in my home. From there I moved to the basement of my architecture firm, from there to a storage facility (with no power), then to an old body shop. Most recently we moved to a new small warehouse space. This current workspace has lights, running water and an outdoor space- even a shared kitchenette. We are no longer cutting and finishing parts on site, but all our manufacturing is local. Being surrounded by all the parts and materials is energizing and I am always creating new prototypes and brainstorming. I am happy to say that I am finally proud of the space we are working out of - and very proud to be a part of our local business community.
What inspires you?Currently it is the place where I live and work, Asbury Park, NJ. This place has a force field of creativity and great energy. Few places capture this. I just returned from my first trip to Austin, TX. Man, it was so darn hot there, but you could feel it there too. It has something to do with the people and the created environment that resonates with me. Other peoples' work inspires me- the level of quality and thoughtfulness that you can sense .
What makes your business stand out?Currently, I hope it is our sincerity. We are small, but I hope people can feel our commitment to high quality, simple designs, and our attention to detail. We pour our heart and soul into everything we do. I feel a real connection to our customers and I think that comes across. We ARE our customers.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?DO IT! It's like anything else- if you don't apply some discipline you won't get anywhere. I read books and talked to as many people as possible before I jumped in with both feet. My most important takeaway was find a little time each day to work on it. Your idea does not have to be perfect and the timing does not have to be perfect. If you wait until it is, you may never start. Do it and iterate as you go- as long as no one gets hurt! I want the the product to be perfect from tip to toe, and our customers' feedback has been invaluable.
What does American Made mean to you?As soon as we decided that we were going to build a brand, there was no question at all. We were going to build an American brand. I wanted to create something like Ford or Levi's- something that stands for quality and integrity. Coming out of the 2008 economic collapse, I could not see how I could take the manufacturing overseas. It didn't feel like the right thing to do. I want my kids to be proud of me and of what they see me build. I can't wait to be in the position to hire a ton of employees!
Mark Your Calendar
WINNERS ANNOUNCEDOct. 17, 2014
2014 Award Winner and Audience Choice Winner announced.See past Award Winners
AMERICAN MADE MEETUPNov. 7, 2014
Join Martha at the American Made Summit kickoff cocktail party.Buy Tickets Now
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