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Meet Bob Card of Greenwood Bay Woodworking Studio in East End

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bob Card.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Bob. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’ve been making furniture professionally for 8 years. I left a 25 year corporate career to open Greenwood Bay Woodworking Studio. The primary style is “live edge” which is where the natural contour of the tree is left in place. It’s a very organic, natural appearance. My original plan was to make kitchen cabinets, but shortly after opening the studio I was contacted by an interior designer to make a live edge dining table. It was my first experience working in this style, but it lead to a major change in my business. That table created a lot of buzz when I posted it on the website. Several more jobs came in and that led to even more buzz. The comments I got were that other makers tended to create pieces that are very rustic, while mine were more contemporary and refined: like something that could go in an upscale home or loft, rather than a cabin.

I ended up getting some press. One of my pieces was made for a project that was the subject of an HGTV show called “Home by Novogratz”. We were covered in a Houston Chronicle piece about salvaging trees that were lost in the drought a few years ago. And our pieces were in several blogs and other posts.

Two years ago I moved to a new shop and that has been a wonderful move. The space itself is great, and there are several other creative companies in the same complex, which creates opportunities creativity and cross marketing. In April of this year I subleased some additional space from one of the neighboring tenants and opened my first showroom, which has been a bit hit.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Struggles are a natural part of any business. For me, one of the early struggles was to adjust from a big corporate world, where we had robust resources, to being small business owner where I wore all the hats. It remains a struggle to this day, but I’m getting better at figuring out what work can be outsourced – like bookkeeping, website maintenance and some social media.

One of my ongoing struggles is managing the flow of work. With a small company like mine, if a few projects come online around the same time, it can be a seemingly impossible task to keep up. Likewise, if there is a slight decrease in work, it can be a struggle to pay the bills.

One of my early areas where I was challenged is probably now one of the stronger areas: designing and making the pieces themselves. Since I really had to learn this work on the fly, it was stressful early on. I agonized over a lot of the details, and ended up making some of the work harder than it really needs to be. But I think that ended up being a positive. I’m self-taught, and everything I know came through those early trials and tribulations.

Please tell us about Greenwood Bay Woodworking Studio.
We make Live Edge furniture. Live Edge is a style where the natural contour of the wood is left intact. It’s very natural and organic looking. Greenwood Bay is known as one of the leaders in making high end live edge pieces.

Our shop is near downtown Houston in the East End, where we have an 1,800 square foot space that originally was built in the 1950’s a company that made and sharpened saw blades for the local timber industry. So in a way, the building has come full circle, because we work with the wood that those big saw blades cut.

We are a little different than many of the other studios that make live edge furniture. We don’t make rustic looking pieces like a lot of other shops do. Ours are more refined and contemporary looking. We create stylish, contemporary, refined pieces that look great in upscale homes, lofts and corporate settings.

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