The Bourbon Review
A Heritage to Craft : Craftsman with a Legendary Furniture Lineage Teams Up with Best-Friend to Launch a New Legacy.
While the old saying may be "old habits are hard to break," sometimes it's your hobbies that wind up imprisoning your attention but turn out to define who you really are.
Just ask James Broyhill II. The North Carolina native decided to turn his weekend hobby of woodworking into a full-time business by using his eye for design to complement the booming Bourbon lifestyle.
Broyhill's interest in woodworking began at his maternal grandfather's shop when he was 5 or 6 years old. It probably didn't surprise too many folks that he had a passion for building things and eventually started to focus on furniture; the Broyhill name is a staple in the furniture and North Carolina business communities thanks to James' great-grandfather, who founded Broyhill Furniture Industries in 1926.
Broyhill continued to "piddle" with building furniture and gift items on the weekends, which served his friends and family well at Christmas and on birthdays. In the summer of 2008 he was trying to come up with an idea for a Christmas present for his folks when he turned his attention towards an old whiskey barrel that had been sitting in the corner of his makeshift shop for a couple of years.
Broyhill decided to breach the barrel by removing the bands and breaking up th once tightly bound staves of wood to see what he could create. He decided that the natural curves of the staves would make an appropriate bench and began designing one for his parents for the upcoming holiday. His folks were very pleased and others who saw his creation began trying to convince Broyhill to make another one for them.
Robert Grajewski II, one of Broyhill's childhood best friends, took notice of the attention his pal's new creation was getting. The two have known each other since grade school and share the same birthday. While Broyhill was expanding his design capabilities, Grajewski had been honing his business skills at Wharton MBA School, along with partnerships with several startup companies with business models built around cultivating customers via the Internet.
In 2012 the two decided to combine their talents and launch the company, Heritage Handcrafted. Broyhill serves as lead craftsman & designer, while Grajewski runs the business side as director of business strategy and development.
Heritage Handcrafted currently offers around a dozen products, ranging from Broyhill's original whiskey stave bench to an Adirondack-style chair with accompanying ottoman, a barrel stave chandelier and even a whiskey barrel bathroom vanity with sink. Broyhill's creations are available on upscale online shopping sites like Mizzen and Main, Taigan.com, as well as on Heritage Handcrafted's own website, which features the entire catalog of barrel-inspired furniture and personal artisanal gifts.
For Grajewski, helping to turn his buddy's passion into a business serving clients on a national scale is a dream come true. And Broyhill? We're hoping he continues to produce beautiful products for us to enjoy.