Scaling Up a Handcrafted Business

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Chair by Brian FiremanBrian Fireman of Brian Fireman Design produces gorgeous handcrafted wooden furniture, using locally sourced materials. Over a decade, his work has been featured in national and international magazines and in numerous exhibitions. Brian is also a member of the prestigious Southern Highland Craft Guild.

When he was starting his business, Brian took our business planning class. Now, many years later, he has come back to Mountain BizWorks to learn how to take his business to the next level – to share his love of handcrafted wood with a larger audience by expanding his business beyond himself.

How long have you been in business?

About ten years. I became interested in woodworking when I was in architecture school. I moved to Asheville around 2000 and was working in an architecture office when I realized that I wanted to do something more hands-on. I started this business in the basement of my house. Now I have a shop in Tryon, where I’ve been for around six years.

How has your background in architecture informed your work?

Well, my background in design was through architecture school, but that design sensibility extends to architecture or furniture or whatever I choose to make. I’m using similar principles that I became acquainted with through school and life – nature, travel, camping – things I like to see in the built environment or natural world.

Why did you decide to sign up for Business Boot Camp?

Boot Camp has been the perfect thing for me because I’m wearing 20 hats and trying to grow beyond myself. In the first class, the facilitators talked about being in the trenches and not being able to see the broader landscape. That’s where I’ve been for almost a decade! I have a family that I’m trying to support so I wanted to learn more about the business side of things – how to delegate tasks and responsibilities, create processes and structure so the business can grow.

Brian Fireman

What changes are you making to your business as a result of Boot Camp?

Right now I’m in the process of moving the shop from Tryon back to Asheville. It will be a larger facility with room for expansion. So over the next year I’m going to be working on systems and processes so that as things grow and people come on board – for manufacturing, administration, bookkeeping, marketing, etc. – I won’t have to micromanage things. I’m using what I’ve learned in Boot Camp to lay the right foundation for growth.

We work with a lot of artists who struggle with the concept of treating their work like a business. How do you approach this?

My original reason for doing this had nothing to do with business. I just had a desire to create furniture and work with wood, which I love doing. But if your desire is to make money, you have to treat it like a business – otherwise it’s just a hobby. I’ve also learned to appreciate the business side of things. It can be approached with a creative mindset, much like any artist would do with any material or medium. It can be very organic. I’ve learned not to hate the business side, but to embrace it. If you’re choosing to make money, you’ve got to get in the game.

Applications for the next Business Boot Camp are due October 4th. Not sure if Boot Camp is right for your business? RSVP for our free Sneak Peek on September 19th.

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