Author Topic: Just wondering how a new furniture maker is suppose to survive or get business?  (Read 19292 times)

Freddy Roman

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Surviving....
Freddy Roman
Maker & Restorer
Inlay Maker

msiemsen

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Some of us are starting to mold.
Mike Siemsen
Green Lake Clock Company
There are II kinds of people in the world. Those that can read roman numerals and those that can't

Antiquity Period Designs, Ltd.

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About the year 2000 Colonial Williamsburg sent a letter to the stores that carried their products.  They were changing their theme to, "Williamsburg Today".  Peoples living habbits were changing from formal to casual. They wanted casual furniture and accessories and not Chippendale sofas but big soft fluffy sofas.  Sadly, I agree with them as we also saw the change also.  In my 27 years of being in business (in the mid-west) 80% of my orders were country style and 85% of these where of cherry or tiger maple wood.  Mahogany, a formal wood, accounted for less than 5% of orders.

The older generation who bought formal furniture is either dying, retiring or simply has it all.  The younger generation is mostly interested in electronic gadgets.  They buy cheap furniture (I call it disposable furniture).  They also are more interested in other styles like contemporary, Stickley style, Arts and Craft style, etc.

My wife and I have done many home deliveries and only one family had their entire house (well, 90% of it) in 18th c. furnishings.  Most homes have only a few items of 18th c. style.  In other words they mix styles.

Last month one of the buyers from CW told me that Stickley Furniture Co., who was making the furniture for CW, will no longer be doing so.  They said there were not enough orders of this style furniture.  The world is changing!

If you are just starting a business in only period furniture making or have been in business a few years, my advise I to add 19th and 20th furniture styles to atleast half of your portfolio.  You may not like this but if you want to survie you may need to do this.

18th century furniture reproductions will never go out of style but it is becoming less interesting and less in demand.

The world is changing.

Dennis Bork
Antiquity Period Designs, Ltd.
Professional period furniture maker since 1985.  Received a B.S. degree in physics then apprenticed and worked as a wood patternmaker for 12 years. Retired Dec. 2018.

Jeff L Headley

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I was in an (Antique) shop in Middleburg, Virginia a few months ago. Everything was painted. I asked the owner of the shop about all the painted pieces. They said no one wants that brown stuff anymore.

msiemsen

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Restorers will get to strip all of the paint off in a few years.
Mike Siemsen
Green Lake Clock Company
There are II kinds of people in the world. Those that can read roman numerals and those that can't

ttalma

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Am I seeing things correctly? is Headly & Sons doing Nakashima repro's now?
There are 10 types of people in this world, those that understand binary and those that don't.

Jeff L Headley

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Tim, I am not sure what you mean? Dog on it, there are only a few ways to hold a checked board together. I do like contrasting woods for embellishment. My wife told me either use this board or throw it away. It was too nice to throw away. I don't like throwing stuff away.
Notice the legs! This is my dog leg collection. I know Bow-Wow might be a better description. My name is Jeff and yes I am a Woodworker. I would like to think I can not be bought but I can be rented.

Jeff L Headley

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Freddy, "Surviving" in this economy is a good thing. With your skill's their aren't many that can compete. Future clients although don't know that. Get your pieces seen!
« Last Edit: August 17, 2012, 07:36:33 PM by Jeff L Headley »

JimCT

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Freddy,

Have you looked into SCORE (website is www.score.org)?  It is a nonprofit primarily staffed by retired executives.  They offer lots of free resources for small businesses, including assistance in evaluating a business opportunity and developing a business plan. 

We used SCORE for one of our businesses and found their suggestions were helpful.

Jim

Jim

Antiquity Period Designs, Ltd.

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I used SCORE when I started my business in 1985. Yes, they also gave me many suggestions. However, I, like you, was faced with one brick wall - you can carry out dozens of ideas but you still cannot force people to buy from you. The way the world is changing I would not encourgage any wood worker to jump into this profession FT. Do it PT until you have enough work to go FT. It took me years to do this and that was in a good economy and people were buying period reproductions. Today it is the opposite. That may sound negative but it is the world is heading (at least for now), like it or not.

Dennis Bork
Antiquity Period Designs, Ltd.
Professional period furniture maker since 1985.  Received a B.S. degree in physics then apprenticed and worked as a wood patternmaker for 12 years. Retired Dec. 2018.

jim vojcek

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When I started our business, we talked to Score!  The only thing he, Score, could say was go full time.  I had a full time job and a pay check.  We felt it was too dangerous to drop everything, so we dropped Score.  I went part time on our business for 5 years before going full time.  This last September we started our 26th full time year!  I know going full time at the start would have been a mistake.  Score may have some great CEO's and CFO's, but you need someone who started a business on his own. 

Jim Vojcek   

Peter Storey Pentz

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Freddy, et alia,

I, too, started part time while working a full time job in furniture repair.  I refer to it as "My nine years in hell."  I have a lot of stories.  It helped me perfect my craft and taught me a lot about people.  It taught me to be flexible about doing what others want me to do while being rigid in my standards of its execution.  Maintain integrity and you will make friends and that will pay off, literally. 

To refer to your first post, and to your reference about the Seymours, remember that they had a lot of financial problems.  These were due mostly to wanting to do create furniture that was more expensive than most Bostonians were willing to pay for.  Sound familiar?  If you are trying to make a living at something you are trying to do what other people want done, not what you want to do.  The trick is to find satisfaction and sucess in that.   PSP

Freddy Roman

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Gents,

   Thank you for all the input and information.  I will have to explore SCORE and see what they may advise.  Sir Headley thank you for the complements, and I agree - I do need to post my work more. These days I am doing anything and everything I can to keep the business going.  I have been blessed and very lucky over the years.  The best advice I have gotten over the years is "Sometimes you make more money say NO to a job."  The other best advice I have gotten was " You will always stay busy if you can repair furniture. "  These days I repair and restore a lot of furniture, but I am making a couple things too.  It's a hard business and it takes a ton of work to keep it going, but I love it and love the craft.  I can't picture doing anything else but working in the craft. 
   Up here in New England I  try to take on jobs no one else wants, for most think certain jobs are too hard or involve a lot of veneering.  The way I look at it is anyone can make a box, but not everyone can embellish the box.  I also find that the younger generation still find Federal furniture interesting, due to it's contrasting veneers and how delicate it appears. 
  Hopefully, I can keep the business going and make a living working with my hands.  I am also getting knee deep in marquetry and English furniture for there seems to be a lot of interest in it.  Good Luck to you all and may business flow your way.

Cheers,
Fred
     
Freddy Roman
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Jeff L Headley

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Period bandings are hard to find. Freddy Roman can cover your needs while supporting America and American made. Let us all support America!

Freddy Roman

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Sir Headley,

Fans, Banding, Marquetry Panels, and all other forms of inlay are what I have been focusing on making.  I hope to put them all for sale.  I love making inlays.  I am even making many of the Seymour banding ie. arrow and lunette.  If I don't sell them then I will use them some day in my work.  I hope to add them to my site for sale soon. 

Fred   
Freddy Roman
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Inlay Maker