Monday, August 31, 2015

NEEDS VS. WANTS


I had made a welded chain lamp about a year ago while building at Salvage One.
 Once I finished the lamp, I put it on the floor for sale, and when I returned the following week, that little gem was gone.
 I posted a photo of it on Pinterest and it's been re-pinned quite a few times.
Sometimes at work we get so caught up in paying projects that you thirst to do something creative like a junkie thirsts for a fix,
 We had an empty day last week, so I decided to re visit the welded chain lamp.
The concept didn't change, but the quality sure did.
 I've always been a sworn enemy of repetition, but the way I justified doing something I had already done, was by telling myself that I never got to spend any time with the first welded chain lamp.
 When I put that lamp on the floor for sale, the fucking welds were still hot, and then it was gone.
This lamp is for me. I need another lamp like I need another pair of jeans, but it has a value to me that doesn't entail a dollar amount.
 I will most likely make a couple more to put on our Etsy shop closer to the Holidays, and then turn the page.
 The second photo was a job for a client that consisted of steel railings, glass and steel partitions, and rift cut red oak floor to ceiling balusters.
 That project was a departure for us in the sense that we nailed the gap between rustic and modern.
The way me and Zack operate is like a game of chess. The goal is to stay one move ahead of the others, but the difference is that we're both going for the same kings throat.
 We've created a comfort zone in reference to our style, and this project nudged us outside that zone.
When you build something in a more commercial setting, you may have hundreds if not thousands of people either walk by or utilize a space or a piece that you've created. Their time in the environment you created is limited. When you build in someones home, it's the same mother fuckers, day in and day out that are exposed to your work, so your shit has got to be tight.
 There are only 2 simple factors that dictate the outcome of a project...time and money.
Unfortunately, these days, nobody wants to spend any money and they want their job done in a day.
 It always blows my fucking mind where people want to cut corners.
Someone will go buy a $3000 computer, and want to set it up on a $400 desk. It doesn't make sense to me. Somewhere down the road of life, the lines between what you want vs. what you can afford have gotten blurred.
 Recently, there was an event where someone wanted to use a bunch of our furniture, but here's the kicker...they thought they were so fucking important on the tree of life, that they shouldn't have to PAY us to use OUR furniture. Needless to say, they got nothing, but we deal with personalities like that almost daily.
 Another good one is the people that want to know the material cost. Here's the deal....the material cost of a project doesn't mean shit to you. You could have a gigantic pile of wood and steel,but without us turning it into something beautiful, well, you'd be the proud owner of a pile of wood and steel.
 I've never walked into Macy's to purchase a pair of pants and asked "how many yards of denim were used to make these, and how much was the denim per yard, and how much was the thread, and how much were the buttons and rivets, etc". That would just be ridiculous right?
 Trust me, when you want something custom built, the math has been done for you. If we screw up the math, we eat shit, and we're not in the shit eating business.
 I don't mean to come across as "dicky", but we're in this constant state of negotiation and price justification, and most of the time it's with people that have money to burn!
 Photo 2....that guy...fucking regular working guy. He wanted something done, he had a vision, wanted us to do our thing, got a price, and didn't blink an eye. The only question he asked is "when can you start?"
 Then, you get the guy who's company has 9 locations, 102 employees, drives to your meeting in a $150k car, and wants to kick you in the balls over $100.
 Zack usually takes the lead in these negotiation situations. He is very professional in dealing with these types of clients where as I want to jump on the table and scream "FUCK YOU!!!!!" in their faces. There's been situations where Zack is thinking in his head "don't speak Brian, please don't speak, pleeeease do not say a word....please god, do not let this man say anything" and he's thinking it so strongly that I can hear him.
 Whew! glad to get that off my chest.
It all boils down to needs vs. wants.
 We don't provide people with anything they NEED in order to survive. We provide people with things they WANT.
 My advice to customers of any kind is handle your needs and never make a concession on your wants.

Monday, August 24, 2015

KEEP THE CHANGE




First things first....I want to extend a big sloppy wet kiss to all of you who ordered the KoothXMAKERS t shirt combo.
 They moved really quickly and it was a huge show of support, so stay tuned for our line of womens swimwear and hair products!
 The first 3 photos are the MAKERS furniture in action.
For us, to see our work dressed up like this is like seeing me...in a suit.
 The other day a woman came to the shop to rent furniture for her daughters wedding. Zack stopped what he was doing to go speak with the potential client, and I pretty much kept on welding.
 Once it dawned on me that I was being totally rude, I went to join in on the conversation. The negotiation process was already in motion, and as I was surveying the pieces she wanted to rent, it occurred to me that all the pieces are covered in an inch of sawdust.
 She gave zero fucks and rented a bunch of pieces. She understood she was in a work shop and not a showroom, she also didn't need to see the pieces staged in order to complete her vision of her daughters event.
 WE...have worked our asses off.
We have lost, we have won, we have succeeded, we have failed, we have starved, we have gone through every mind fuck that you could possibly imagine, and finally...finally, we're gaining some ground.
 Mary and Gabbi from LM Catering have dragged every potential client into our dirty smelly shop that they can get their hands on, ya know why? Well, I like to think it's because we make cool shit, but more importantly, I think it's because we're nice (and Zack is handsome). No drama, no ego, just 2 guys trying to make a life out of doing what they love.
 Being "nice" isn't something you should have to work at. Our Mommas raised us right, we treat people how we want to be treated. It's effortless,
 Before we gave that woman pricing on renting our stuff, we were told how her previous event planner stole $30,000 from her. Can you imagine eating a 30K shit sandwich? We gave the woman a great deal because life doesn't have to be a series of bad experiences.
 Give a little, get a little and you'll at the very least sleep better in knowing that you did the right thing.
 The last photo is my boy.
Sometimes his mom drops him off at the shop on her way to work. He loves coming to the shop.
 This last visit, he actually brought his "work boots", just in case he was gonna have to do some hard work.
 Lately, I've been trying to teach him the value of money, and how you have to work to get the things you want.
 He's been wanting this dinosaur DVD and I told him that he would have to earn it. I set him up on a work bench and had him sand a hand carved table top that I've been working on. I used a hand forged Adze to scoop out the innards and it leaves all these marks in the finished surface that need to be sanded smooth. He did a horrible job, but he sat there for over an hour working on each little mark. One hour doing anything tedious is difficult for an adult much less a 5 year old, but he sat there silently sanding.
 We went to Target on the way home, and I handed him the money for the DVD and let him pay for it. That DVD now had a real and tangible value to it. He EARNED it, and he knew he earned it.
 The cashier handed Max his change and he asked me if he could keep the change. I let him keep the change and on the way out he said "wanna stop at Starbucks, I'll buy you a coffee", I let my little man buy his old man a cup of coffee. He bought me that coffee with a new swagger.
 I've handed him money to pay for stuff lots of times, kids love that shit, but before, there was a shyness and he would hand me my change like it was on fire. He bought me that coffee like a man. He was confident, strong and most of all, he was proud. No where near as proud as me though.

Monday, August 17, 2015

MY GREATEST BUILD EVER




On Wednesday August 19th at 10am, the MAKERS X KoothBrand T-Shirt will be available at www.koothbrand.com.
 It's pretty exciting for all of us.
A lot of work went into this release.
 There are only 25 shirts being released and each one comes with a hand made MAKERS railroad spike hook.
 The shirts are $40 plus $6 shipping. Before you get sticker shock, understand this....these aren't some bullshit Fruit of the Loom t shirts, these are indigo 100% fine ring spun cotton that were hand pulled screen printed from Ramona Press in Austin Texas.
 Allow me to explain where this idea came from...
"WE" as in me and Zack are MAKERS. That is the name of our company. The name was thought up one Friday night.  Now, when you think of pretty much any company name, there's no relation to you. NIKE, DEWALT, THE GAP, HOME DEPOT, do you feel a direct connection? I sure as shit don't, but with MAKERS, our company name is shared.
 MAKERS is shared by every welder, woodworker, jean maker, screen printer, photographer, mechanic, etc...If  you make something, well, you're a MAKER, and welcome to the family.
 When I thought of the concept for this project, I thought of Kooth.
Shayne is a father and a husband. He designs hand crafted high quality goods and apparel that combine traditional worker aesthetic with modern day touches. Kooth isn't just about clothing, they want their clothing to tell a story about the hard working men and women that are using their hands to rebuild America.
 Well fuck me runnin' because that's pretty parallel to what the MAKERS represent.
If you order a shirt this Wednesday, wear it with pride, because I know that  90% of people who are gonna order it, are indeed MAKERS. Usually when you buy something like this, you're like"fuck yeah, I'm gonna support these guys, I believe in them...." but no-no-no my friends, buy it cause you believe in you. Buy it cause you trust your own hand not ours. Don't get me wrong, we love your support, but this little project is to be shared by all. There's a difference between buying a shirt and OWNING a shirt.
I'm going to push this whole thing even further.
 If you buy a shirt, take a photo of yourself wearing the shirt at work, write a little info about what you make and email it to breclaimed@gmail.com and I'm gonna post each and every photo I get on an upcoming blog post.
 This is the start of my greatest build ever.
Me and Zack can make cool shit all day long, but our greatest build is going to be building a community.


 

Monday, August 10, 2015

I'M NOT A GIANT ASSHOLE.





The day after the finish coat was dry on the small service bar, Zack immediately began cutting the steel for a large rolling bar.
 Every last bit of this bar is reclaimed.
The steel is left over from other jobs, the face is from the demo of a bathroom stair project, the wood for the top was pulled from a dumpster, the foot rest is an old stair railing, the interior shelf is found OSHA board, and the casters were from old hospital food carts.
 LM Catering has bought the bar for their newly acquired event space called City View.
It's amazing what you can come up with if you just look around.
 We knocked out all the railroad spike hooks and printed materials that go with them for the Kooth Brand X MAKERS collab T-shirt. That project will be up on www.koothbrand.com really soon.
 In between all of our stuff is the shop bike build, which I can report, is moving along nicely.
New drag bars, as shown in the first photo, railroad spike foot rests, as shown in the second photo, and the chopped rear end with hand bent seat pan extension. As you can also see, we started sanding the tank which has proved to be extremely laborious.
 I know that I tend to repeat myself, but something has been bothering me for weeks now...TIME.
Time has been freaking me out for a couple of reasons. For one...I have no control over it, and secondly....it seems like it's moving faster.
 I think time gets up in your ass particularly when you have kids. Children are human time stamps, so you become aware of every moment that has passed by based on their accomplishments. When you don't have kids, you don't have those constant reminders, so life probably moves at a pretty even pace.
 For me, I'm constantly being reminded of moments that have gone by.
It's a blessing and a curse to be aware this whole "time" thing.
 A blessing in the sense that your vision to accomplish the things you want to do is that much clearer. You have a grasp on the time at hand, so you're able to put a value to it.
 The downside (which actually may be an upside) is that your bullshit threshold is at fucking ZERO.
Why is it at zero? Because I don't have time.
 I don't have time to wait, I don't have time to fight, I don't have time to kill. Either keep up or get the fuck outta the way.
 Now, socially, this train of thought has the potential to make you look like a giant asshole, but I'm not an asshole because I respect my fellow mans time equally as my own.
 Your time is just as valuable as mine. What you choose to do with your time is your business as long as it doesn't cut into my time.
 This is the main reason me and Zack are partners.
One of us is always ahead of the other. One of us is always doing the other thing (whatever that thing may be) in order to get to where we gotta go.
 That's the only way to produce what we do in the amount of time we have.
The only defense you have against time, is to not look back.
 In fact...STOP looking back. Looking back is the death of you in a battle against time.
If you let past failures, events, relationships, family issues, whatever, dictate your future, you may as well go lay the fuck down.
 Why live in the past? Why hold on to all that baggage? History is bullshit, and all that matters is what you're doing right fucking now.
 I don't remotely give a shit about what you did 10 years ago, what are you doing NOW?
It's a little heavy for a Monday, but Monday's aren't the enemy. Monday's are a clean slate, a fresh start, so take today by the balls and drag it around with you all day.

Monday, August 3, 2015

THE GOLDEN HANDSHAKE




Ah yes....The standing desk.
 Apparently, the pencil pushers are wising up to the fact that their asses are expanding at an alarming rate. In order to halt the expansion, someone declared that it would be hip and cool as well as health conscious, to stand up at your desk.
 Me personally....I haven't spent more then 5 minutes at a desk, so who am I to say if it's a good thing or a bad one. I can confirm that I do not have a expanding ass problem, so maybe there is some validity to being on your feet all day.
 Regardless of my personal opinion on office place etiquette, I decided to make a rustic version of the modern day standing desk.
 The white collars may be on to something because I can report that it is surprisingly comfortable to stand at this desk.
 I'm not one to follow trends, but if I can squeeze a nickel outta a furniture trend, well then nickels I shall have.
 I see it more as a leather worker table, or for guys like Zack and I when we're doing more delicate work, like carving or burning. I also see it as kitchen work space. It's pretty versatile and functional, and those are 2 key elements in design.
 Now, maybe this is the item that puts me and Zack behind the wheel of exotic motorcycles, and restored vintage trucks, or at dinners of fancy restaurants that I can't pronounce the names of? A shake of the magic 8 ball says "probably fuckin' not", but ya never know. I do know that I had fun making it, I know that if I never sold one, I would use the shit out of it, so regardless if the concept is a commercial winner or loser...I won already.
 Things around the MAKERS shop have been ridiculously busy, but we've been having fun.
We have the shop bike build, Joe Caccitore has been throwing projects at us where we have creative freedom, Gertrude Inc. had us making something that was already cool, even cooler, Zack has gone rogue on me and is building out his roof deck, and from the one photo that I've seen, his deck is gonna make every DWELL magazine subscriber cum in their chinos, and as if things weren't already hectic enough, we're doing a collaborative T-Shirt with KOOTH BRAND (WWW.KOOTHBRAND.COM).
 The T-Shirt design is based around "the golden handshake" image between Levi Strauss and Cone Mills in 1915.
 Kooth Brand makes work wear out of Texas. Shayne from Kooth has built his brand with his own 2 hands, and has made a strong commitment to the American worker. The idea behind the collab T-shirt is with the first 25 shirts, a hand made MAKERS railroad spike hook will be included with the T-Shirt purchase. KOOTH makes work wear and the MAKERS are the definitive American worker, so it just makes sense.
 I had the idea for the collab, and text'd Shayne, 20 minutes later Shayne emailed me a mock up for the shirt, and within 24 hours he was ordering shirts to print and Zack and I were cutting and welding. No contracts, no licensing agreements, no lawyers involved, just a couple of guys with a respect for each others work...the 2015 version of "the golden handshake".
 THAT my friends is how America was built.
Trust and mutual respect. So simple.
 We never, not once talked about money. Ya know why? There is no fuckin' money.
After Shayne's expenses, and our expenses, we're both gonna lose...financially.
 In the end, everyone, including the customer is gonna win.
Our customers and friends will discover KOOTH, and their customers and friends will discover us, and we all move forward with a expanded base. It's grassroots marketing and it works.
 You'll never be rewarded for your efforts overnight so never expect that. Expect to lose and you'll never be disappointed, and with that mind set, the wins become that much sweeter.