It happens. Every once in awhile something goes wrong. Either there is an issue with a table we made for a client, I underestimated shipping costs on an order, typos in emails... Humans aren't perfect. But isn't it just the worst when you mess up? 

I have always had really bad side effects from getting in trouble or making a mistake, ever since I was little. That horrible sick feeling in your stomach. Wanting to avoid your phone or emails because it is literally painful to see that client's name pop up. Feeling like a total failure. 

"What will they say??? How angry are they? We are just crap and don't know what we are doing."

But thankfully I have grown a little over the years to know that dealing with a mistake is like ripping off a bandaid. Rip off that bandaid! Acknowledge it is going to be a horrific weekDeal with it as soon as possible. You just have to push through it and then you can try to forget about it after a few weeks. 

Recently there was an issue with a leg on one of the benches Chris made. It was our first real big commercial order making a custom design. Chris made 3 sets. And somehow on the last set, he changed the construction slightly. He didn't even realize it was different. But that change made the back leg wobble. So after seeing the email, discussing with Chris (who handled it oh so well), we made a plan. And then revised our plan. And then revised our plan again. 

What to Do:

- Make it a Priority. Get back to the client ASAP with just "Apologies, I got your email, working on it." That shows that you are also upset, that you are committed to fixing the mistake ASAP and buys you some time to figure it out. 

- Make the Plan. Easier said than done. With most things I usually have 2-3 options we can choose.

- Make it Right. Do whatever it takes to fix your mistake. 

- Make it Personal. Whether it is face to face, over the phone, a discount or a gift. 

After a day of back and forth, going to Home Depot to realize that they didn't have the right welder to rent. wrapping my brain around that Chris used gas welding vs flux welding... making an emergency call to Frankie our welder (who broke our hearts and moved to Maine) to assure us that Chris could flux weld, going back to Home Depot to rent the flux welder, finding someone to watch Evie while we did the repair (thanks Dad!).

And you know what? It wasn't all that bad. Chris was able to repair the benches on site. I was his handy assistant and moral support. We were able to inspect the other tables and benches and see how they were holding up in the summer sun and thunderstorms. (other than the leg issue, pretty good). 

The client was super cool about it and made us both relax. He was so cool that I followed up with a bottle of whiskey to thank him for his patience.

Lesson of the Year:

We are going to make mistakes. We try not to of course, but it happens. What matters is that we are able to communicate with the client and correct our mistakes. 

BONUS: Chris can now Flex Weld... so there's that right? 



One of our first random Custom Order Requests was for a large Magnet Board. A new client walked into our shop, took a look around and we started chatting. She asked if we would build her something custom. I said, "Sure!" because why not, right?

The client just remodeled her beautiful kitchen and like most stainless fridges, it wasn't magnetic. She had school aged kids with tons of papers, schedules, to-do lists, etc that needed a home. Instead of a bulletin board or chalkboard she thought of hanging a magnet board. Only she couldn't seem to find one. 

On her 2nd visit she brought the gorgeous tiles that she used for her kitchen remodel. She envisioned a metal board framed in chunky reclaimed wood with a matching stain to her countertops and a tile in each corner

Mag Board.jpg

I drew a quick sketch of the details we discussed, showed Chris to confirm a price quote and made a few stain options for the client to take home to confirm. 

(I was thinking of editing the sketch photo to look more professional but literally thats how things actually get done....)


Once the details get hashed out we normally take a 50% deposit for materials and also for security so the client doesn't back out, which is pretty standard. 

Think about it. People always say they will go to something, and then day of they cancel and guess who is stuck paying for a 25 person party bus for her sister's bachelorette? It's ok. Its just in our nature to want to say yes right away instead of knowing ourselves and how we would rather be on our couch drinking wine and looking at the photos of the night on FB.  

Anyway... In this case the price was cheap enough and we hadn't put the deposit rule in place so I said check was fine once completed. We had her super fancy tiles so I figured she meant business. 

Ok so for the project we needed the following:

  • sheet metal to be cut slightly less than 30"x 50"
  • reclaimed wood - Chris used his stash of reclaimed pine boards 
  • figure out the tile inlay in the corners
  • strong enough wire hanging set up on the top back
  • confirm stain options

Metal Supermarket! My home away from home! I say "my" because Chris had never actually been there until I was 8 months pregnant and I said, "I am not planning on coming here and carrying out 20 ft of tubing with a 2 month old so you need to meet the guys so you can handle our future orders." The Metal Supermarket in Fairfield IS THE BEST. I love them. Like would invite them to Thanksgiving... or at least for a beer.  

So I stopped there to get a sheet cut for the project and pick up a few other things Chris needed. It is definitely not a "supermarket" like you are picturing with florescent lights but more of a metal supply shop with an office in the front, warehouse in the back stocked with all kinds of metal tubing and angle and what not in different sizes and and shapes. The guys help you select what you need, price it out, cut it down and then load it into your car out back. Its the easiest most comfortable way for some random girl to buy metal and not feel out of place. 

Chris started the project and ran into the whole, "Oh I didn't think this whole router situation through for the tile inlay." But like most things, the internet helped... And epoxy. Lots of epoxy. I am considering buying stock in West Systems Epoxy. 

Finished project.

There were definitely things that we learned along the way, which is what happens every time you try something new. (I usually have to remind Chris this over and over). 

The client was happy. We were psyched to make our first real custom project that was client designed. And we quickly realized that our Pop Up Shop was more of a "showroom" where clients could get an idea of what we do, then come to us with what they needed. 

God I miss that black and white checked plywood floor...