We had the good fortune of connecting with Josh Jackson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Josh, putting aside the decision to work for yourself, what other decisions were critical to your success?
The most important decision I made in terms of the success of my business was implementing a strategy to always keep moving forward, both in the practice of designing and building furniture, but also in learning how to run a small business. Sometimes this strategy led to failures, but it also translated into lots of positive wins for us as a small business. For example, some marketing strategies worked while others did not translate into sales. Some of our original furniture designs became best sellers and other designs sat on our site without a single purchase. We even opened a small retail store and then realized it was more work than we were able to take on as a small team of makers. The bottom line, though, is that we would not be where we are if it wasn’t for our constant pursuit to move forward as makers and as a small business.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
First and foremost, we are a design and build furniture company. We sell pieces from our Minimal Collection as well as custom pieces for residential and commercial clients. We pride ourselves on making aesthetically beautiful furniture that is also functional and practical for everyday use. We work with locally salvaged wood from around Los Angeles, domestic hardwoods and live edge slabs from California and beyond. It has taken us a decade to get to where we are now and it has been a process of ups and downs along the way. I would not say it has been easy, but it has been a joy to grow as a maker and to grow as an entrepreneur, even during hard times and failures. It may sound trite, but we overcame the challenges through an outright refusal to give up and a desire to keep moving forward even when it wasn’t easy. What makes our story and brand special is the connection we have with our clients. By the time we are ready to begin building a piece, there is a level of intimacy and comfortability we have with each one of our clients because of the way we collaborate together in the weeks leading up to the build. This is my favorite part of the process and what I believe separates our business from others like us in the industry. In addition, the work we receive has an important and vital trickle-down economic impact on other small businesses around Los Angeles that my furniture company supports. From our local lumberyard and hardware stores, to my metal worker, CNC shop and powder coaters, and finally, to the craftsmen on my small team that are paid living wages. And perhaps most importantly, we partner with the LA Woodshop, a co-op in South Los Angeles that teaches practical classes in woodworking. A percentage of our monthly profits are donated to their scholarship program, where they connect with underrepresented candidates who don’t have the financial means to take classes. Raising up a new generation of woodworkers who are from genders and groups that bring more diversity to our field is a real passion of mine and I’m so grateful there is a place locally that is already doing this kind of work.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The first place we’d start would be a road trip over the Santa Monica mountains to Malibu for some hiking and swimming in the Pacific. Solstice Canyon is a great place for a hike and Leo Carillo is one of my favorite swimming spots. After this, we’d head to Lily’s Cafe for some of the best mexican food in LA. From there, I’d want to hit DTLA for the Last Bookstore and dinner at Blossom. Other places to note: – York Blvd in Highland Park for food at Joy, donuts at Donut Friend and some boutique store browsing at Shorthand. – Hiking at Millard Canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains. – Peruvian food at El Dorado and mexican food at Yuca’s, both in Pasadena.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would love to shout out Dave O’brien from Hawk and Stone. He is also a furniture maker and designer and we started our companies around the same time in 2010. We have worked together for the past decade on several projects and he is a pleasure to collaborate with. He is a master at his craft and as true of an artist as I have ever met.

Website: https://www.arborexchange.com/
Instagram: @arborexchange
Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/arbor-exchange-pasadena-2

Image Credits
Foxes and Wolves

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