Wooden Wonders: Rustic Designs by Rich

Sometimes in life you just have to take the risk.  That’s a big part of small business, people making that move into being self-employed.  A lot goes into that decision, and it could come at any time.

Barn Doors like these, started it all.

Such was the case for Rich Brackett, who when he decided to take on building a pair of barn doors for his wife Andrea saw an opportunity.  After the doors came a few tables and Brackett’s revelation, “I could probably walk into a store and sell these.” So he packed his truck and head out one Saturday morning.  There was such a positive response that he and Andrea made the choice to dive head first into this business.

Hard Work and Boots on the Ground

Rustic Designs by Rich was born three years ago, and his since operated out a home in the Orchard.  There’s a lot that goes into some of these amazing pieces. It all starts with the wood.  Much of the wood Rich transforms he reclaims from old barns.  “It’s a lot of knocking on doors right?” Rich jokes about the process.  He says that he’d speak with farmers, or those who’ve purchased the land as an investment. The actual act of removing the barn comes later. “There’s a lot of paperwork before hammer hits wood,” he says.

“Sometimes it’s better for me to just but material,” he says.  Rich will travel as far the Georgian Bay Area to pick up new stock.

This is only some of their extensive stock pile

Learning out West

Rich first learned to make rustic furniture while living in Whistler BC. He worked for a small company who made trinkets and furniture.  It was there he learned the basics of furniture makings. As well, he says he picked up much of the business acumen he uses today.

When things got started it was a big step just getting his name out there. Rich credits the early reach of the brand to Andrea being so social.  They tapped into something amazing and now are in retailers across Canada, including a couple in Burlington.

They make everything from cutting boards to Canadian Flags.  Their orders fill up fast too.  For the moment it’s only Rich.  He says that most days are 10 to 12 hours long.  In some cases he’s been able to bring in part time help but, “there have been a few sleepless nights.”

Family is important to this business.  Rich’s children will often help out on trips to pick up wood.  Being with family has been a benefit to working out of their home these past three years.  But as the business continues to grow, so to does Rich’s desire to separate his work life from his family life.

Finding a new home

The pair set out to find a new shop space that could properly represent the direction they were headed. Burlington was just too expensive and lacked a space that could properly represent the product in Rich’s eyes.

Rich had heard that his friends from Rock, Paper, Scissors had a sweet setup in Hamilton.  “I didn’t know what kind of shop they had in Hamilton but I knew it was cool from seeing pictures on social media,” he says.  After a quick phone call they were off to tour the historic cotton factory.

The 100 year old building has been renovated to become a useable space for all types of artisans.  “It’s a very cool, tight knit scene,” Rich says.  They take possession of the space on March 1st.  I asked Rich when he plans to start work there. “March 2nd,” he jokes.

There’s something to be said about a business like Rustic Designs by Rich reaching such a high level of success after starting out their home.  Come out and support them at their new location this March!

About the Author James Gike