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Meet Sam Matthews of Sam’s Strings Violin Shop in Katy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sam Matthews.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I began studying violin when I was 4 years old, and began cello at 11. I ended up focusing on cello, and received my Bachelors and Masters in Cello Performance from the Peabody Institute at John’s Hopkins University. Following my studies, I received the exciting opportunity to teach orchestra in Shanghai, China. Not long after arriving, I became fascinated with the violin manufacturing industry there after meeting some luthiers there. I subsequently began working with the best workshops in China to develop products that would later become some of our most popular instruments we sell here today. Also, during this time, I apprenticed with one of China’s top violin bow makers to learn that craft.

In 2012, my wife and I decided to relocate to the USA to open up a violin business here in the States. After a lot of research and a few visits to various locations across the country, we decided the Houston Metro would be an excellent place to call home. 6 years later, we have built our own shop in Katy, TX, expanded our inventory to include instruments and products from all over the world, including violin makers right here in the USA, as well as Europe, started a rental program to help young students get started in music, as well as find some time to repair and make bows in my free time. And, perhaps my most proud achievement, I am growing some internal help – my twin boys!

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?
Shortly after arriving in the USA, my wife became pregnant with our twin boys. Having double trouble at the beginning of our journey here was certainly a challenge, and took time away from business development, but of course it is worth all the sacrifice to be fortunate enough to have them in our lives.

Sam’s Strings Violin Shop – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
As a violin shop, we service, sell, and rent most types of violin, violas, cellos and basses, as well as carry the supporting products needing for learning them. We try to carry a wide range of instruments, catering to both students and professionals. We are proud to have a number of professional musicians in the Houston Metro and across the USA who use our instruments and bows. Because I came at this craft from the perspective of a professional cellist, I know the demands and qualities that musicians want from their instruments. I believe this has been a critical factor in the development of our very competitive inventory of instruments.

Customers also appreciate knowing that they can ask for the owner, and get direct feedback and results. It is one of the small joys that drive us each morning, knowing that we can help make someone’s day a bit better!

Innovation is also something I strive for, to keep us competitive and always improving. Whether that innovation come from using unique woods to produce instruments, creative methods for repair using carbon fiber, working with colleagues to create new models, or just tweaking measurements and balances on new bows I personally make. The art of violin making has been around for hundreds of years, and yet it is still a living and growing field. This is one reasons it is such an exciting business to be involved in!

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Moving into our own building was probably the most exciting milestone we have achieved so far.

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