If it hasn’t been clear by now, I attend church regularly. For me, this has meant a constant reminder to do the right thing. Church and regular attendance at it are in bad repute these days in some circles. Church people regularly get up to political, financial, and sexual transgressions. We are all, after all, sinners. I, indeed, have never been what my mother would call a “white hen’s chick.”
Still, there is a constant thread in my life of searching for a just path. I’ve asked what this might mean for me as a furniture maker. As a contractor, I was blessed with a partner who was bone good. He pretty much kept me high and dry, at least at work. The few arguments we had were actually about what was the right thing to do. Now, I don’t have the benefit of that partner. My church keeps me in touch with the Bible and the fellowship.
So what is the right path in general? After thinking and praying about this for some time (never a guarantee of accuracy, at least in my experience), I’ve come up with some ideas. First of all, I must make a contribution to my customers’ lives. This means well-made and beautiful furniture for one thing. It also means no cutting corners. Just because I can make something cheaper doesn’t mean that it is better for me. Next, I can’t just be in this business to aggrandize my bank account or standard of living. My relationship with my customers is a partnership. I can’t give things away (except on rare occasions). There is an iron rule of business: you must take in more money than you spend. Otherwise, the business and any effort you might have put into it and your customers’ lives stop. I have to charge what it takes to produce the product. While there’s some give and take on this, it falls within some parameters that are easy to remember and abide by. There is no hard and fast rule, however, because every customer and situation is different.
Doing the right thing is a journey not yet completed.
Today’s picture is of a dresser I did several months ago. It has dovetailed drawer fronts, wooden drawer slides, a bottom, and a dividing level between drawers to keep out the dust and any vermin you might encounter. Although this picture does not show it, it ended up with a hand-rubbed satin spar urethane finish.
Come see Bourgeois Furniture at Berkeley Art Works in Martinsburg, WV, and Bent River Trading Company in Capon Bridge, WV. During the month of March, I shall have a display in the front window of Berkeley Art Works.