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How to get new clients in unexpected places

How to get new clients in unexpected places

Several years ago, I designed and built this piece for a fellow artist. She was a painter and had a good eye for design, so it was a joy to work with her. While designing the piece, she gave me a lot of leeway in the details but also gave me some great direction. She wanted to be able to see the joinery of the table, and how it was constructed; it didn’t have to have a standard apron attached to the legs with the top screwed down to it.
It needed a shelf, as she planned to use the shelf to display a sculpture her son had made, so the shelf height and spacing between the legs had to have a minimum distance. The sculpture was narrower at the top than the base, so we decided to splay the legs out at the bottom to play off the general shape of the sculpture.
As the design came together, it started to become one of the more subtly complicated pieces of furniture I have made, not only did the legs angle outwards, each leg tapered from all four faces. These details gave the table an elegant, simple look with a fair amount of complex geometry to fit the legs to the top and the shelf.
Once finished, I headed to the client’s house to deliver it. She lived in a swanky condominium on the top floor. It was a beautiful loft-style condo, with some contemporary styling.
The table was a manageable size, so I just carried it from my truck through the lobby and into the elevator. A very well dressed man step into the elevator after me. His suit was crisp, and even thou the cuff from his jacket covered most of his watch, the part that peeked out hinted Rolex. He said, “Cool table,” I responded, “Thanks, I made it,” at the same time pulling a business card out of my pocket, handing it to him. “I design and build custom furniture,” I said as he took my card.  The elevator arrived at the top floor, and we both got off, he headed one way, and I went down the hall to my client’s loft to deliver the table.
Two weeks later, I got a call from the gentlemen in the elevator, inquiring if I could build him a custom bar for his loft. The first thing that came to mind was, thank god I had a few business cards on me.

Fast forward a few years, my daughter had a soccer tournament; she had two games that day. One mid-morning, one early afternoon, so it didn’t make sense to drive home for lunch. I headed over to a food truck to buy my lunch. I placed my order and handed the lady running the food truck my credit card.

Unfortunately, she was having a hard time getting her square card reader to read my card. Since I use Square’s card services for my business, I was familiar with it and was able to tell her some things I have tried to get it to work for me. The guy behind me in line asked me what kind of business I ran, I Told him, pulled out a business card and asked him to check out my work. A month later, I get an email. “Hi, you probably don’t remember me from the food truck line, but I’d like you to build me a table. ”

These are just two examples of some unexpected ways business has found me in some unexpected places.  All I can say is always have a business card ready, and even thou your mama told you not to talk to strangers, sometimes the risk is worth it.

I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.

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