Since opening shop a few months ago, I’ve had people come up and ask me why I’m so transparent about our partners, about where we go to source our product, etc. It honestly never occurred to me to be cagey about this. One of our nearest and dearest partners Andrew frequently says “A rising tide lifts all boats,” and that’s how we feel about it, too. If a Big Box, or any other shop decides to pick up one of our partners, that’s simply more work for them — and we want to see that success grow.
The Friday Five series is just another way to offer a bit of transparency into our cool little world. Here, we will spotlight one of our amazing partners with five easyBreezy questions, so that you can learn more about their product, their story, and why we feel so strongly about wanting them to be part of our crew. Today’s partner: Vault Furniture (IG: @vaultfurniture)
How did you get into this craft, and is there any significance behind the name?
“Andy grew up with a passion in mechanics and carpentry. From an early age, he showed talent in construction, and as a teenager he could bring crippled machinery back to life. After high school, he attended WCC for commercial construction & welding. Unfortunately, construction had come to a screeching halt due to the recession. This led Andrew to continue his education at MIAT in the field of power generation. After working on wind turbines in North Dakota for a year, Andrew came home and met Brandilyn within the first week.
Brandilyn Dunkel has had an eye for design since she can remember. She excelled in art classes and expressed herself through fashion. It was this passion for creation and form that led her to graduate in Commercial Interior Design from Michigan State University. Similar to Andrew, her ideal job was unattainable due to the recession. So she worked as a partner in her mother's Cabinet Studio. It was here that she learned essential business skills, while she designed custom cabinetry. It was three years after graduation when she met Andrew through a mutual friend.
About two months into us dating, we went out to dinner. Neither of us were satisfied with our current jobs, and we knew we wanted to own a company someday. We had noticed a new trend of industrial furniture on the rise and were joking around about how we were in the wrong industry...Then we realized that we had all of the skills, and a barn!, where we could build furniture. That was on a Thursday night. The following Saturday, we met at Andy's family’s barn and began cleaning. And after about a year of working Vault solely on the weekends, we decided to make the move from Ann Arbor to Chicago.
What has been the most challenging about this experience? What's been the most gratifying?
“The most challenging part of our experience was moving here and starting everything on our own. It was definitely intimidating, and our families weren't exactly thrilled about it. Although, we had each other and we had the drive to keep going, so we knew it was going to be okay. The other challenging part is listening to our consumers’ opinions and taking them into consideration. Modifying our original designs can be difficult to do without losing personal style and integrity. Adapting is key to small business, and if you can learn from what people say without being offended, we have found that you will create new designs and sell even more. :)”
If you could go back in time to when you first started Vault, and give yourself some advice, what would you say?
“Find a trustworthy accountant from the beginning and a mentor who will tell you about the first steps..I.E. perfecting your business plan, business license, calculating your overheads. Also, always network and collaborate with your competitors, and not against them. Why not try to create more success for both??”
Name the top three things that have helped you grow your business (e.g., social media, shows)?
“Social Media: Facebook, Instagram 2. Art shows: One of a Kind 3. Trade shows”
How do you define success?
“Success is being healthy and happy everyday. We consider ourselves extremely successful because we love each other, we love what we do, and we love the prospect of the future.”