Since 2015, I’ve been running a full-time custom furniture company called “Built By Stevie” in Nashville. I’ve always had a knack for building things, and it runs in my family. Both of my grandfathers built things for their families, and two of my uncles currently are builders — one is actually a full-time woodworker in West Virginia.
Growing up in south Florida, I built ramps to ride skateboards when I was young. In college I found myself building and assembling all of my friends’ furniture.
I had actually not used an electric saw until 2013 when I bought my first house and decided that it would be my project. First, I learned how to lay hardwood floors and then I googled how to build a headboard. Let’s just say, I learned quickly that glue actually does work when you use it! I filled my home with lots of DIY projects over the next three years, learning and designing my own furniture.
What threw me into full-time building was losing what I thought was my dream job — I worked for a company that created sustainable jobs for craftswomen in Africa selling their products in the U.S. I built things in order to keep busy while looking for a new job, but the business took off in my garage, and within a year I was looking for a bigger shop space.
“Built by Stevie” has seen the wave of house growth, and my crew of three has grown alongside that wave, building about 40 to 50 projects per year. The first time I did a built-in, I stood back and looked at the wall and realized I had actually created art in someone’s home. It was a warm and inviting space, and I knew that a family would likely use it for a very long time. I was hooked!
One of my favorite parts of the job is collaborating with clients about what their needs are for a space or a piece of furniture. Sometimes it’s a table to host dinner parties, while also serving as the homework desk for their kids. Or it might be a closet that serves two different people and their wants/needs for that space. Other times it might be a bed that’s gorgeous to look at but also has storage that flows with the style of the bed.
This work brings me so much more happiness than I could have imagined when I lost my job, so in a sense I’ve actually created my “dream” job! I love helping other people satisfy their dreams, too.