Blackhall Woodworks from St Louis, Missouri is a collaborative effort between brothers, Matt and Josh Bender; dedicated to producing handcrafted furniture of outstanding quality with natural materials and simple forms.
When did you turn your craft into a business?
Growing up together, we spent our time exploring creeks, climbing trees, and building forts. We got into a lot of fights with each other, but over time, we learned to get along — it just may have taken 20+ years.
Our common interests of good design and great craft beers led to more frequent hangouts once Josh graduated college. About 6 months ago, after one of our many "Bro Downs," we chose to put our time together to good use. We decided to set up an Etsy shop to function as a creative outlet to explore our shared design and building interests.
How did you come up with a name for your store?
We spent weeks trying to figure out the perfect name for our shop. It wasn’t until we exhausted all possible combinations of our names that we realized we needed to keep it simple. At this point it seemed like the only thing we could agree on was that we were brothers. Brothers who grew up together on a street named Blackhall Drive. It seemed perfect, it represents our upbringing and shared history together.
How did you start selling on etsy?
After building a few lamps, beds, and dinning tables for ourselves and some friends we decided that our craft was up to par and we decided to set up our shop.
What’s your most favorite product?
We’re not sure if there’s one in particular that would be our favorite. However, our father recently gave us a huge oak beam that he snagged from a nearby recently demolished warehouse. We cut and planed it down into multiple pieces of furniture. One of which was one of our Danish modern lamps that we then gave back to our mother for Mother’s Day.
What are your future goals?
Our short-term goal has been to be able to make enough money to outfit our respective shops. After that, who knows? It would be great to be successful enough to do this full time.
What’s your process from an idea to a finished product?
Everything starts on paper. My brother and I normally start with and evening of throwing back some beers and sketching as fast as we can. From there we will pick our favorite and figure out how to make it work.
The toughest challenge that we face is trying to figure out how to make it packable and intuitive for the buyer to put together.
Once our design is finalized we will source the hardwood desired and start cutting everything down. On any given project, we will normally exchange pieces at each others houses to work on certain task, but at our best we will be working together in one of our shops. After everything is cut down, glued and sanded we will then finish the piece with 4 hand rubbed coats of our secret custom oil/varnish that provides a protective finish that emphasizes the beauty of the hardwood.
Where and when do you find yourself most creatively inspired?
To a degree it helps that we are both in creative fields; Josh a Licensed Architect and Matt an Art Director. But we spend most of our time in front of a computer. That's part of the reason why we started our shop, we wanted to get back to building forts again. Back then we didn't get our inspiration from anyone source. It was always there — it came in the moment. It was spontaneous. We are both competitive individuals, which is probably why we always got in fights back then. But, now we use that competitiveness and push our designs further than what we thought possible.