I had the pleasure of sitting down with Christian Woo this week to talk about how being part of the first Working Wood experience affected his business. It’s a great story – the kind you love to hear about.
Two years ago, Christian was working away at his small business, doing one-off projects in cabinetry and some furniture pieces. He was thrilled to be invited to participate in our inaugural Working Wood program, sponsored by the Business Innovation Partnership (BIP). This mentoring program’s goal was to take 4 – 6 small furniture manufacturers and offer them skills development in the areas of product line, product design, business planning, marketing, and trade show success.
Although Christian felt he benefitted from all elements of the program, there were two pieces that really affected the change in his career path: the “building a brand” workshop, and meeting and working with the program’s key mentor, Brent Comber. As a small business, getting the vote of confidence from his peers was a key driver in his success.
“Graduation” for the Working Wood members was successful participation in the 2009 IDSwest show in Vancouver. His booth received some attention in the Globe & Mail and started getting him some local notoriety. Following that success, Christian took the next step and decided to participate with BC Wood in the 2010 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York. This was now serious business. He spent a lot of time and effort rebranding his company and accepting that using his own name meant he would have to ensure the integrity of all his work, for the entire world to see. He developed a completely new line of case goods and called them Covert. He launched this line at the ICFF and the industry loved it. He received recognition in one of the industry’s favorite magazines – Azure and started getting inquiries from all over – including an exclusive retailer in Toronto (who now carries the Covert line in their upscale store).
Western Living had also seen Christian’s work (check it out at http://www.vanspecial.com/western-living-x-christian-woo-cool/) and a few months ago, recognized him publicly at their “Western Living Designer of the Year” awards as the “one to watch” in the Furniture Design category. Local retailer Provide has been carrying Christian’s pieces and featured him in a recent blog at http://providehome.blogspot.com/2010/08/designer-profile-christian-woo.html . He’s in great company there with other featured artists like Martha Sturdy and John Ross Design.
Christian credits a lot of his recent success and notoriety on his decision to join the Working Wood program. It has built his confidence and he is very much looking forward to updating his Covert line of goods for the 2011 ICFF in New York. Congratulations Christian – your creativity, hard work and charm are paying off!