Do you respect wood?
It’s a simple question really. One posed by Larry David in the Season Eight finale of his show, Curb Your Enthusiasm. For Larry, a deep respect for wood meant ruining friendships, and the potential to rekindle love with his ex-wife.
Unlike Larry’s, this story is about how a respect for wood cultivated relationships between friends and family.
It starts with a father and son. Co-owner of Brush Factory, Hayes Shanesy, watched and helped his father with woodworking for years.
“I grew up around it; my father was a professional cabinetmaker and woodworker. Basically, from the beginning, he’s always been sort of a mentor, and I apprenticed under him. Instead of going to work for someone else, I just learned from him.”
A few years after Hayes graduated from the University of Cincinnati D.A.A.P program with a degree in Industrial Design, his dad retired from editing Popular Woodworking magazine, and a studio space opened up.
Just below that studio space, was another young graduate of D.A.A.P with a fashion degree, Rosie Kovacs, in a space of her own. And the rest, as they say, is history.
“We ended up with the woodshop because the timing just aligned,” Rosie said. “Hayes’ dad retired, they (Hayes and his dad) move up to the woodshop of the original Brush Manufacturing company building, which is where the name comes from”
Hayes and Rosie found in each other similar individuals with a desire to create and inspire. They began to work together on projects, and eventually opened their first store in Cincinnati’s Oakley neighborhood in 2010, combining Rosie’s experience in textiles, and Hayes’ with wood.
The store closed after a year, but the furniture side of the business continued to gain traction, and Brush Factory was taking orders from around the United States. Most were for small goods, but the people in Cincinnati wanted something more.
Brush Factory has a deep appreciation for products created with quality craftsmanship and materials. Those in OTR quickly realized that, and requests for custom pieces began pouring in.
“What was happening was, all of our products were being purchased by people outside of Cincinnati. And, anyone in Cincinnati wanted a custom piece.”
Rosie says it’s reached the point where you’d have a hard time walking down a street without a Brush Factory piece on it.
“By last year, I think we had a custom piece on every major street in OTR, and the list is growing. Which is great.”
2015 was a big year for the Brush Factory. The duo entered Artwork’s Big Pitch Program, planning to use any winnings to create their first product line. Well, they ended up sweeping the awards.
“We ended up winning both judges’ choice, and audience choice. Which was, shocking and wonderful at the same time. So, we were able to use the funds to execute our plan.”
About a month later, Rosie said the company got an opportunity it just couldn’t pass up.
“We get a call from 3CDC asking us if we wanted to have a pop-up shop on Vine St. We got it together in like a week, and it’s been a great testing ground.”
Inside of the Vine St. pop-up shop, Brush Factory debuted their first original line bff. Sticking to their roots as a company built on family and friendship, the line titled, Brush Factory Furniture, also plays on a well-known acronym among young people, best friends forever.
“Everyone is obsessed with staying connected with one another, and very much values friendships,” Rosie said. “And, the other aspect of that was, the physicality of being at a table. Sitting at your dinner table reconnecting with your friends and family around a piece of furniture.”
Each piece in the line is named after a friend, family member, or place near and dear to Hayes and Rosie’s hearts.
Family, and friendship. The two words sound simple enough, and they are. But, they also represent the fabric that is essential to the culture of creativity in OTR. There’s a reason things like Brush Factory exist in OTR – great entrepreneurs are choosing to make it their home.
“It’s always been a family thing; Rosie and I are a family, and my dad works here,” Hayes said, and sees a similar connection to Article. “I think the city needs more of us, and with every trend that I see in the world that is really big, like fast fashion or walmartization of products, there’s always that reverse side pendulum that’s going to swing the other way.
By the same token, because there is a mainstream, there has to be this other resistance to that. I think younger people, especially guys that are our age, and maybe a little older, can afford it and are interested in that. They want something that’s cool, and interesting, and going to last a long time because it’s well made.”
So, if you’ve got respect for wood, and love quality craftsmanship, check out Brush Factory’s website.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up with the same piece as LD himself.