Seven years ago, almost to this exact day, my husband and I decided to take the great leap into entrepreneurship. We had zero business backgrounds- absolutely no training or experience in starting a company.
And yet- we did it anyway. Why? Because we wanted something different. We envisioned a different life for ourselves, beyond the normal 9-5. But also- we wanted to see if we could do it. If we could actually pull it off. We were enthralled by the challenge of it, and we were hungry to push ourselves in a new direction.
We had just sold our home in Florida, and got rid of nearly all our possessions. We said goodbye to dear friends and family, loaded up our truck and trailer, and hit the road. Our destination: Denver, Colorado.
While I grew up skiing in the Rocky Mountains, I had only been to Denver once- on a work trip. James had never been to the Mile High City. But we were captivated by the thought of starting a completely new life, in a new city, in a new part of the country.
You see, we love change. We thrive off it. When things are too comfortable or too routine, we completely shake it up. I believe that’s how growth happens- by constantly seeking out new chapters. We loved our time in Florida- and made so many lifelong friends there- but we knew we had to go. We needed to move on.
So after just a few short months of being in Denver, we started Black Hound Design Company. This business- we decided- would design and build wooden goods. James has a long history of building and creating; he even worked construction when he was ten years old! I’ve always had a creative pull too, and knew that my strategic planning and marketing skills would lend a hand.
For those first few months, as we explored our new city, James worked in the teeny tiny worn-down garage of the home we were renting. We first focused on products- cutting boards, snack trays, belt buckles. Anything that would sell! And it did. We actually made a little bit of cash slinging our wooden goods all over town. While in retrospect it seems almost laughable- that we grew our roots via cutting boards- it was an important first step in learning how to create things- and sell them.
Flash forward a few months, and James landed his first big job building furniture for Southern Hospitality restaurant in downtown Denver. Low Down Brewery quickly followed. These jobs- while exciting and (moderately) profitable- also represented an extremely pivotable moment for us. We realized that there was a huge market for custom furniture in the hospitality space.
With that, we were off to the races. We started networking and attending business meet-ups. We were so surprised when we’d introduce ourselves as custom furniture makers… and people believed us! We felt like a joke. Like imposters. And yet- just by putting it out there in the world- by firmly verbalizing it and committing to it- we became what we said we were.
In the years since, we have grown our humble company to an astonishingly talented team of over 20 wood craftsmen, welders, draftsmen, project managers, operations managers and more. We have a huge dusty workshop where we produce custom furniture and commercial art for locations all over the country. Even over the world! A Saudi Princess. A famous DJ. The hottest, hippest restaurant chain in the US. Incredible breweries. An entire hotel! Hot damn we’ve done some incredible work.
We are astounded and oh so grateful for our growth and success.
But that is not to say that it hasn’t been without hardship. In fact, these past seven years have been unquestionably the hardest years of my life. We’ve lost friends along the way. We’ve lost money at times. We’ve lost our sanity lots of times. We’ve shed literal blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today. But we’re proud. We’re so goddamn proud.
We had a hunger for change. We had unwavering self-belief that we could actually pull this off. We had total commitment and laser focus on our goals. When shit got rough, we stepped up and stepped in. And now- now that we’ve reached a level of success that we’re proud of- we continue to lean in and strive for more. We’re always striving for more. Never complacent. Never backing down. Always pushing forward. That’s how we CRUSH.
Tonight I’m pouring James and myself stiff (ridiculously stiff) drinks, and toasting to our old Black Hound in the sky.