Friday, August 07, 2009

Interview: Tim Pursell

Next up is Tim Pursell of Grand Prairie Woodworks.

1. Why do you do what you do?
There are several reasons I do what I do now.

First is the design process. I like to incorporate the Arts and Crafts philosophy of simple honest construction but with a lighter, more modern touch, or applying these principals in an item that was never part of the culture 100 years ago.

Then there is the actual building process. I love the challenge of pushing the envelope. When I built my first cutting boards I had to try techniques new to me. When I tried to make the kitchen utensils I needed to upgrade a few of my tools & refine some skills to achieve the level of quality I strive for.

Of course I also love the look & feel of the finished product. All the things I make are meant to be used & loved. I enjoy watching customers run their hands over one of my pieces & watch the smile spread over their faces.

2. How long have you been selling online?

I started my online selling of furniture in 2003 with my own website.

It proved a handy way to showcase my major pieces to my customers but much less successful at actually selling items. Most of my sales were from doing shows and word of mouth. I joined Etsy in Nov of 2008 and have steadily increased my number of views and sales. I opened a 1000 markets store in early 2009 and my Atrfire store at the end of June 2009.

3. What's your inspiration?

Inspiration? I grew up in the Roseland area of Chicago where there were many early 20th century "Chicago Style" Bungalows. Plus many other architecturally interesting homes. The woodwork and stained glass common in these homes are still drawing my interest. Over the years I have put together a large collection of books, magazines, photos and other printed material about the related designs associated with the Arts and Crafts movement. Whenever I need some inspiration when dreaming up a new piece or line of products I refer to this collection.

4. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An engineer. Later I actually started college to become a mechanical engineer, specifically an automotive engineer.

5. Do you have a day job?

I’ve been self employed for the last 15 years, mostly building custom furniture. Sometimes successfully.

6. What advice would you give to someone who just started selling online.

3 things:

#1 Keep your day job! Very few are charging enough for their work. It’s hard to do so. Too many people look at things in the stores and expect your prices to be like the stuff brought to us in shipping containers from someplace that think $1 a day in wages is making the big time.

#2 Do something you REALLY love. No sense working yourself to the bone doing something less than fun. That’s what your day job is for.

#3 Develop your skills. Improve your equipment. Find the best suppliers. Just because you build wonderful items that take 3 weeks to build and cost you $400 in material does not mean you can charge 120 hours of labor and $800 in material plus profit for them. Not if the next guy can make the same thing in 5 hours & $100 in material to sell it for a profit at one tenth your price.

Links to my shops:

Favorite woodworking site that I post often on:

My blog:

My facebook fan page: