“Not having money opens the door to greater creativity.”
Furniture chose me
After Walgreens, I began designing for California Closets, a national custom closet manufacturer. There I learned how to sell and their manufacturing and installation process. During this period, Phoenix was experiencing a housing boom such that I could begin to see my path to creating a job for myself. I would design and make custom furniture as art using all that I learned at California Closets and Ford. A great idea with only one drawback: I didn’t know how to make furniture, so I needed to find someone who did.
Since Detroit had an industrial district, I assumed Phoenix also had one. I got on the freeway. Once in the city, I picked the first exit and found an industrial park where I came across some men making furniture and speaking Spanish. Once again, this was a great find with one challenge; I needed to speak more Spanish.
“each of us is born as a divine answer to a problem.”
About four years into working for California Closets, I was assigned a wealthy client who wanted more than a functional closet. They wanted something sculptural and elaborate and I designed that for them. During the second phase of the sales process, the client learned the California Closet product was made using particle board. I lost the deal because the client’s quality expectations were unmet.
On my way out the door, I nervously turned and faced the client, informing them that I had recently opened my shop and could build the product from solid wood. The client, invested in my design skills, offered me a 50k contract.
I employed the original Spanish-speaking crew I had found in West Phoenix to build and install the job. We struggled to pull off this job because neither they nor I understood the language of high-end woodworking that signaled luxury.
During the installation, I would have a chance encounter with a Mexican immigrant with basic woodworking skills. When he told me his name was Rene, I knew this was no coincidence since my ex-wife’s name was also Renee. I began to feel that my journey was guided.