How did you get started with your craft/art?
First of all I want to thank you for choosing me out of the thousands of other artists out there! It is an honor to do this interview. I think I would say I started as a child. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, so I ended up building a lot of my own “new” toys by taking apart ones that I had and building them into something else. I always seemed to see something else in what I had and tried to craft it into that vision. I just was always building things! My dad taught me quite a bit about building but a lot of it I just picked up on my own.
As I got older I would see furniture that I liked but figured I could build it cheaper and better myself. After doing just that I decided to start a business designing and building custom home furnishings. Jumped into it and then pretty much quit after a few months of not selling anything in the local area. At the time, I didn’t know about places like Etsy and tried coffee shops, garage sales and word of mouth. 5 years went by; I sold nothing and gave up. Then a friend told me about Etsy and it all came rushing back. I just jumped in full steam ahead and decided it was time to make it work. And here I am now with several sales in the past couple of month and a private custom order off the site.
What prompted you to set up a home-based business?
After trying half heartedly the first time in 2005 and getting nowhere my friend Candy got me going. I thought this could be my chance to make and live one of my dreams. Time to see it through and make it a success! As I said I just jumped in and went at it. I listed some pieces on my new Etsy shop that were already in inventory. I then set out to build new designs that had built up in my mind over the years. I must thank Candy for lighting the fire under me and getting me restarted again with a purpose! And with a baby on the way now I have a real drive and purpose to my work!
What part of your craft is your favorite?
Probably my favorite thing is taking a pile of materials (junk to most) and crafting a piece of beautiful and functional art out of it; reusing and recycling anything and everything and making it useful again. The designs just come to me in my day-to-day life as I cycle through all the “junk” I have and what it could be. I am very visual and most often never make plans or sketches of a piece. I just see it in my mind and set about building it. Most of the time it just kind of happens as I go! An original idea might morph into something totally different by the time I am done. I want to make art that myself and others can look at in amazement. The selling part of it is sad and happy at the same time. I am sad to see something I put my heart into go but I am happy that its finding a new home and someone else will love it as well. Somewhere out there my work is making the new owners smile while their friends maybe ask questions, such as “where did you get that?”
How have you changed since starting your business? How has this impacted your craft?
The biggest thing that has changed is figuring out where I wanted to go with this whole thing! I had a dream but it was a rough draft in my mind. Nothing more than a dream really. No details worked out, just an end goal. Well I am having to catch up basically with the details! Had no idea there was so much to learn. Figured I would just casually build stuff and sell it, no problem. Had no clue about marketing and all this social networking stuff. Sure I had Myspace and Facebook accounts but how to use them for business I had no idea. And then came Twitter, WOW! I am still learning about it everyday it seems. I really see a different picture now; it’s amazing and challenging and scary all at once! As far as how it has impacted my craft I think that mostly I am just finding myself more the longer I build. I have ideas all the time and just want to build everything at once! I have found that I really like a lot of metal in my work and wood is becoming the accent pieces now! Glass is also coming into play a lot more because I love the color contrast it brings to the piece. I am even planning on bringing carbon fiber into play at some point as I love the exotic feel it brings. I would have to say that my style is unique its many styles all smashed together in my opinion!
What is the most challenging aspect of running your business?
I think the most challenging aspect at this moment is time. Between my family life, a full time job, and a part time job, OCW time is at a premium! It’s somewhat of a miracle I’m able to get anything done. I get up at 4 some mornings to work in the shop before working at my full time job. My days “off” are started by working at my part time job and later finished with any number of things but it’s usually quality time in the shop. I just do what I can when I can at this time. My goal at the moment is to build OCW big enough to take over for my part time job so that I can focus more time on it.
How did you come up with your shop name?
Came up with my shop name in 2005 when I originally started. Was sitting in my shop I had in the second bedroom of my townhouse apartment and made it up. Wanted to build custom home furnishing for clients so that’s where the custom came in. And, of course, there’s my last name to start it off. Ostlund Custom Works; I like it!
Where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you see your business?
Wow - after doing some business talk to a friend I met on Twitter my dream and vision for the future exploded! It got so big I just never thought about the possibilities that are before me now! In 5 years the business well definitely be a real tax paying business. Where I will be though is a big question. If things go the way that I want them too it will be my only job and I will be a success. I have some big ideas that I want to bring into play. They are amazing and groundbreaking but I have to go through the right process to get there! It’s going to be a lot of work but I want to see this through all the way! I am driven more than ever now especially with a child on the way. I want to provide for my family in a way that I love, not grinding away at a boring job. I can do it with this and I am committed to it.
How do you keep a balance between home and business responsibilities?
Actually this became a problem about 3 weeks in to this adventure. I was doing nothing but business stuff and neglecting family life. Well you can imagine that didn’t go over well with my wife! I have had to work really hard at managing my time properly. Most of it is because of my limited time at this moment. I hope to reach that point of this taking over for my part time job soon. Then I will have more time for family and more time for OCW. My wife and I have things worked out and she is supporting me in this endeavor, as it is a viable future for us.
What is the funniest/craziest/most touching thing that has happened while having a business?
Well at the time of me writing this interview it has been about 2 months since I started. I would have to say that nothing funny or crazy has happened yet but touching yes. About 2 weeks ago my wife and I found out we are pregnant! This is a blessing like we have never experienced. It has brought new drive and motivation to my work. I build everything with the thought of my child at the back of my mind. I am doing this for my family and because I love it!
If you could give one piece of advice to others who are just getting started with their businesses, what would it be?
Well I think I would have to say know what you’re getting into and know where you want to go. Have a plan to start with, you can always change it later but have a plan! I had no plan I jumped in with my eyes closed and that’s not the way to go!
Can you give us some links to be able to follow you?