I found myself exiting graduate school with an MFA in Furniture Design in 2010, one of the worst American economies in history. The design industry was not hiring beyond entry level at terrible money. I was half in manufacturing and half in design. I had worked for many companies that sent my best efforts to be dumbed down in Asian manufacturing. I knew I could do it better faster and cheaper. So I did.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
We started an island of design and lifestyle. Saint Louis has no design industry outside of graphic and advertising. It took about 5 years before we were actually known. The last 2 years have been much easier. We needed to push a certain amount of work out the door in order to be taken seriously. We now create fro Hospitality, Commercial (contract) and Residential.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
Most people focus on the now and have little to no passion. Explaining vision driven choices to those with no vision is impossible. They quit quickly and more likely never start. They don’t want the risk. My family are great people. I’ve always been wired differently. My unique view of the world is manifested into physical product. I just put my head down and tried to find clarity through greater and harder work.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
We stay authentic to our vision. We simply put forth what I perceive to be the right way of living life. I look at the visual and mental clutter of the world and try to simplify our products down to positive elemental experience. The rest of the bullshit can fade away.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
Marketing shouldn’t be overlooked. Products and services are import but nothing is worse than having rockstar products and no one who knows you exist. We shoe stringed budgets together for years without thought of focusing on sales and marketing. It almost killed us a few times.
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
The establishment is scared of you. They will never admit it and often steer you in the wrong direction because they want you to play their game. You will never win at their game. Play your own game and be original. Show people what you offer it’s better than what is currently available.