Today, I’m welcoming Bradford Bowling to the blog, a talented DIY’er and owner of The Bradford Edge. Between his other hobbies – which include rock music and novel writing – Bradford spends his days working full time on his Etsy shop. I spoke to him to learn a bit more about what he makes, why he makes them and how it all began…
Man Crafts interview with Bradford Bowling, of The Bradford Edge
Hi Bradford! First up, where are you from and what are your interests outside of DIY/craft?
I grew up in a suburb of Saint Louis. I’ve since lived in Louisiana and now I’m back in Saint Louis. My interests outside of woodworking? Gee, I thought this test was short answer?! The lovely lady in my life often says that, “The mind of an artist is like an internet page with 10,000 tabs open.” I have to agree with her on this. To cut a long story short, I’m also a musician (percussion rock and jazz) a writer (novel form and short stories) an avid reader (most would be writers are) and a wannabe Mr. Fixit.
Your Etsy shop looks pretty cool – can you tell me a little bit about what you sell?
I sell a selection of jewelry displays made largely with handmade artists in mind, home decor that has a personal and organic touch, clothing racks for boutiques that just want to be cooler than everyone else, and furniture ranging from custom and contemporary, to creative and clunky.
That’s quite a range! How did you begin first making these items?
The aforementioned lovely lady of mine is a jewelry designer, a darn great one if I do say so. I noticed that, in the boutiques that purchased her pieces, space and presentation was always a struggle, and everyone was using the same displays, in the same neutral colors and with the same level of quality.
Well, I decided that her jewelry was not just, “stuff for ladies”, it was art and like any great painting, it needed a frame that served the piece. Now, we’ve all heard that we shouldn’t try to remake the wheel, but the wheel of the flintstones would never do on a ferrari. So, I girded for battle with power tools and sandpaper, stain and scrap metal. Looking like Rambo covered in sawdust and stain, and riddled with fresh wounds, I came out of the veritable jungle of my garage with something that would be useful and cool looking at the same time. Put simply: she needed stuff and, like a dutiful gentleman, I made it.
Tell me about your DIY space. Where do you make all of your items and what is the process involved?
It’s dusty, very dusty! My shop is quite literally a garage, it’s cold in the winter, it’s hot in the summer and, at the press of a button, I have a much bigger window than most CEOs. As to the process involved, it’s a new adventure every day. Juggling space and conditions for staining, it looks different from day to day, but generally varying degrees of dusty.
What’s the best thing about running your Etsy store?
Besides being my own boss and making what I want? My customers. The intimate nature of Etsy generally means that I make handmade things for people that make handmade things. I’ve done corporate retail before. Nothing is quite like making things for people that understand you and the things involved in what you are making for them. It’s the connections that I’ve gotten to make with those people, that I love.
Any advice for those thinking to start their own DIY or craft business?
That’s easy. DO IT! Don’t wait, don’t keep hesitating. You’ll learn as you go, you’ll be able to get more tools after you make some sales, you’ll come up with more ideas without even thinking about it. The best thing I ever did was actively decide to ignore my parents advice about practicality and thorough planning. Start small or start big, but start right now!
And finally, let’s end on something fun – tell us one interesting fact about yourself or your shop!
I can lick my elbow. My anatomy and physiology teacher told me that was impossible, so like any curious guy, I had to try it. Don’t laugh – I wasn’t the only one that tried. Difference is, I could do it! I keep that as a reminder that nothing is truly impossible, and that facts are just opinions. Try it! you might shock the know-it-alls.
A big thanks to Bradford for taking the time to talk to me! If you want to see more of his amazing creations, be sure to check out his Etsy page, here.
Want to be featured in a future Man Crafts feature? If you’re a male maker, crafter, designer, DIY’er, cook or creator of any sort – get in touch! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.