Author: Justin McDaniel.
Since I can remember, I have always enjoyed building things and being creative.I found my passion for building furniture through my family. My mom, who loves home decor and furniture inspired my interest in rustic, farmhouse furniture when I was a teenager. My taste has since expanded, but my woodworking journey began with building a rustic farmhouse picture frame.
My dad, who is a general contractor with years of carpentry experience gave as many pointers as my hard-headed teenage self would let him, but my determination to do it myself helped me learn every way that doesn’t work first, and after hours of trial and error my dad showed exactly how to do it in under 5 minutes.
With my first project behind me, I decided to share with my friends and family my new-found passion for woodworking. Initially I didn’t received many inquiries for picture frames, but I did have a few custom requests. One of them being a head board, which I had no idea how to build.
After doing determining what the client wanted and talking with my dad, I was off to Home Depot. It was difficult to figure out at first, but once I made a plan it all come together perfectly. The client was thrilled. She shared photos on social media that sparked a ton of interest and that turned into more orders for the same thing. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the beginning of my furniture building career, because years later I’m still building The Goodson Bed Frame. It’s now in hundreds of homes all over the United States. Without the Goodson Bed Frame inspiring so much of people’s interest in my skills, my woodworking journey would have probably ended with picture frames.l
After moving away to college, I continued to develop my skills with the help my uncle, who stepped in to provide a place to continue building furniture in Clarksdale MS, but that was still over and hour away from my college town. After about 8 months of that commute I decided to look for another place to rent closer to school, which lead me to Water Valley, MS.
I decided to visit Water Valley after a friend mentioned that the town had seen better days, but the community was committed to making improvements to the town and it was on the rise. While touring the town and checking out the vacant buildings for rent, I bumped into who would be my future landlord, friend, and business partner. We toured his building and something just felt right about it and even though I was very nervous about going out on my own, I signed a year lease a couple weeks later.
Less than twenty-four hours after signing my lease, news broke about Covid-19. I was already very nervous to lease a building while still being a full time student, so this added extra incentive to continue to build furniture that people loved. I advertised on social media and the orders continued to flow in as if nothing was going on outside, so I took another leap and hired on some help. Covid continued to increase, but furniture orders did too. While still maintaining the quality standard I set, we were making as many Goodson Bedroom sets as we could a week. I continued to build my team as the orders kept increasing, but eventually we were burnt out on making the same
Items over and over. I decided to change my marketing strategy and find customers who wanted something different than was we were already making, so we expanded our product line and began growing the Dining & Living Collection.
With now offering bedroom furniture and dining furniture, we needed more space. So less than a year after signing my lease, I was presented with the opportunity to purchase a half vacant shopping center a block over from my current shop. I went in 50/50 with my current landlord. So while we still were making furniture, we also had to focus on getting our new workshop move in ready, and it was a fixer upper to say the least. We split our time on furniture and getting the building ready, which caused some furniture delays that clients didn’t like, but everyone told me “that’s just growing pains”. Finally after 4 months renovation, the shop was good enough to move in, not perfect, but it’d do.
I mentioned earlier that this was a shopping center, so that adds another element to the story. There were current tenants who had rented their space for years that needed immediate improvements, and also 2 other vacant units that needed tons of work to be rentable, and we needed them occupied to cover our overhead. So, while still trying to stay on track with furniture, I also had landlord duties and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when it came to that. Luckily I went into business with my previous landlord who was at the age of 64 and had decades of real estate experience, so he was able to help me learn the ropes. But, after just 6 months of owning the property together, my good friend and business partner lost his life to suicide. As devastated as I was to lose a person who had made such an impact on my life, I had to keep going forward.
With more weight on my shoulders, I still had increasing furniture orders to fulfill, and vacant buildings to renovate for potential tenants. I operated full blast for as long as I could, but life started to feel like a blur. My passion for building furniture is what kept me going, even though it would have been easier to give up. Years before this while picking my truck up from being impounded, I read a quote that was written on a busted car window that read “never give up or in, no matter what life brings always remember when one door closes another one will open. I know that quote is true now, but in the moment it was hard to believe since I was spending my last dollar on getting my broke down truck that was towed from the side of the road, out from being impounded. That time was one of the lowest points of my life, but I’m glad it happened. I learned at a young age to be in charge of my own life, which is what fuels my passion to continue improving my woodworking skills and creating furniture that people love.
Building furniture has taught me more lessons about life than I can list. It’s provided me with a creative outlet, been my constant source of income, and forces me to become a better version of the person I was the day before. Being in business in is tough, but you’ve got to keep going, know when to pivot, and keep your core values priority.
Its been two years since I first moved into my new shop. My team of craftsmen helped me provide hundreds of families with beautiful furniture. The previous vacant buildings have been fully renovated and are occupied by multiple individuals who have became some of my best friends. Furniture sales have eased up, so I’ve reduced back down to a one man show, and I’m feeling as creative and motivated as I’ve ever been to continue to provide one of a kind, high quality furniture to families all over the United States.