Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?
My business name came from what I focus and specialize in. Metalworking and woodworking combined make up the products, in addition, I resource all of my materials domestically – mainly in Michigan.
When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
My Grandfather was an excellent craftsmen, he started teaching me woodworking at the age of 7. I found it fascinating and would try and learn the craft when given the opportunity. As I got older I started welding and working with metal, my passion for both grew. I started my business in early 2014 when I decided a 9-5 wasn’t for me. Iron and Oak Domestics became my full time job.
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
I’ve had my fair share of failures along the way, but nothing I haven’t gained knowledge from. The process of establishing my brand became somewhat trial and error. Luckily I have a clear vision of what I want Iron and Oak to look like, for every misstep a lesson has been learned.
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
One of my proudest moments had to have been the first time someone I didn’t know purchased one of my items. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the support of friends and family, but there is something about putting your work out into the world and the world returns with a positive response. It definitely gave me a boost of confidence and solidified the fact I want to do this full time.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
I sacrificed time. When I first started this business, I have to admit, I thought I was going to make some tables and home goods, sell them and clock out… little did I know that it’s virtually a 24 hour a day job. Yeah, I go to bed thinking about work and wake up thinking about work but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m able to evolve and grow the business constantly. I have a hand in everything; the process, picking out the slabs, communicating with clients and shop owners, web design and social media. I absolutely love what I do, have no regrets and look forward to the future of Iron & Oak Domestics.
How does the city you live in influence your work?
I spend my time split between Detroit and Chicago. The business was established in Detroit, a city founded on creating & innovating. Detroit is where I source materials and do most fabricating. I recently moved to Chicago, I’ve found the city to be extremely inspiring and supportive of makers. Both cities have so much to offer, I feel super fortunate to be able to call both ‘home’.
What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
When I started my business, I dove in headfirst. I had never owned a business before but had an idea in my mind through previous management jobs for independent businesses. Needless to say there is a learning curve. I went into it full force with drive and a creative background in design, which has been very helpful.
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
The answer is pretty much within the question; I wanted to be my own boss and have creative freedom within a brand. Previously, my 9-to-5 jobs would end up being 7am-to-8pm jobs although that doesn’t change while owning your own business, but when it’s a passion it doesn’t feel like work.
What are some inspirations for your work?
I tend to find inspiration in a lot of things. I love to travel and find different cities and the architecture inspiring all around the world. I pay close attention to angles and curves, it sparks creativity that I then incorporate into new designs.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
I think the number one tip would be, if you’re going to do it, then do it with everything you have. Hard work pays off, even if it isn’t automatic. Patience is key, push boundaries and trust your gut. Most importantly, love what you do!