We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeff Mills and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jeff, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I have always known I wanted to work for myself. To be able to control my own hours, schedule, work flow and how the public views my work has always been what I’ve wanted for myself. I’ve wanted to invest my time into doing something I enjoy as well as offer a quality product that I, personally, put love and time into.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Building custom furniture and home decor is definitely a very saturated market. Since the pandemic a lot of people began getting into this type of work as a hobby. I take great pride in not being a hobbyist and in being in business since 2017 (prior to the pandemic). My attention to detail and ability to turn a client’s idea into a reality are traits I think seperate myself from others in this line of work. I have built/crafted everything from small jewelry boxes and custom turned pens to large and oversized desks and built-ins. I have worked with all sorts of different mediums from wood and epoxy to paints and plaster of paris. I am able to fully customize just about anything with engraving and CNC work. Having experience with all of these mediums and machines gives me a much wider offering to my clients. Getting to this point in my career was definitely no walk in the park. I started out with some simple, everyday tools. As I sold pieces I would reinvest every penny back into the business. I would work for tools. I was in my shop all day, every day minus a few hours for sleep. In the summer months it is the worst. My shop does not have AC so it tends to get a little “toasty” during the day. In the winter months it is a lot more bearable, for sure, but I have a job to do and clients to keep happy so there is never any time to dwell on it. As I was told in the Army, “Drink water and drive on”!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When I’m not at Houston Hardwoods purchasing materials for a build, I am a very “outdoors” kind of person. I prefer going to the beach, fishing, boating and hunting over time in the city. With that said I’d definitely be spending a majority of the time on the coast. From driving on South Padre beaches to hitting the coves in Port Aransas for some fishing. Id have to treat them to an Astros game or Texans game, depending on what time of the year it is. If we don’t catch any fish we would have to suck up our pride and visit one of the many great BBQ joints in the greater Houston area.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are a couple people that I owe my success to. Most importantly, my wife, Alex. Without her support, love and never ending push for me to believe in myself I would never have gotten to be remotely close to how successful I have been. She is so understanding and supportive of the long days and nights I spend in my shop, the funk I get into when something isn’t going as planned and the frustration and stress levels I achieve when I am nearing deadlines. With her support I am able to achieve so much more than I ever thought I was capable of.
Second, I owe my grandfather, Dick Muoio, for always pushing me while I was a kid and even into adulthood. My drive, determination and attention to detail comes from spending countless hours with him in his shop. He is an amazing father figure and grandfather. Having a positive male figure in your life has a major effect on your success. Without him I’d probably be in a whole different world. When I first got out of the military I was in a really bad place, mentally and emotionally. My grandfather saw the hole I was going down and without any judgement or hesitation he dug me out. I not only owe him for pushing me to be a better man but I owe him for saving my life. Whether he believes it or not he saved me.