Behind the scenes
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by Faith Teel
You might not know this about us – even some of our best customers don’t know this – but we started our business in response to a personal tragedy.
It’s not exactly a secret, it’s just that we don’t talk about it much.
But with all of the concerning news these days, I thought I’d tell our story and what we’ve learned, and hopefully it will help you out and inspire you in these troubled times.
How we started
Five years ago, I thought I had it made. I was a paralegal working for a small-town attorney, and Arthur had just taken off work to build our dream home.
Sadly, my employer (who was also a friend) was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away soon afterward. Then within a matter of months, I was also diagnosed with thyroid disease and began experiencing serious chronic fatigue which had me bedridden within weeks.
We needed to reboot Arthur’s income stream right away, so we started a little handyman business: just Arthur, his truck, his tools and a Craigslist ad.
From there, he used his extensive furniture-making skills to segue into the custom cabinet business which you know as Artisan Built-ins.
By the way, this is a good moment to say “Thank you” to those of you who have been with us from almost the beginning. It was our earliest clients’ faith in us that allowed us to grow as much as we have, and we will always be grateful to you.
As the years went by, my health slowly improved, and although I’m still not walking a lot yet, I’m able to support Arthur’s work by running our office, designing cabinets, and so on.
We’re both very thankful to have come so far… and believe me, Arthur has done the lion’s share of the work. So I’m grateful to have him by my side, and I’m grateful for all that he’s done.
What we’ve learned about hard times
It’s hard to write these things and not use platitudes, but I will try.
If you find yourself full of worry about the future, please take a moment to remember that most crises are not “the end of the world as we know it.” Life will go on, and in fact, some of the coolest things about your life might come about as a result of your hardships.
I would not care to repeat the past five years, but I believe they have changed our lives for the better. The trials we’ve been through have given us confidence that we can overcome even harder obstacles. And they’ve made once-large problems seem laughably small in comparison.
Arthur and I love each other more. We love our extended families more (and they have been very kind and supportive). We cut each other a lot more slack on bad days, and even with all of the bad news in the world, we’re happier than we were before I got sick, and even cautiously optimistic.
And personally, my faith has deepened. I know now that I can stick with God even when all “good feelings” of belief are gone.
You have most likely heard of “post traumatic stress disorder” or PTSD, but some philosophers also speak of “post traumatic growth syndrome.” Sometimes, people come out of difficult life experiences with a new appreciation for the life that remains.
And that’s not to say that you have to grit your teeth and try to “enjoy” the bad parts of life – it just means that you can look forward, past this stressful moment, and have faith that this isn’t going to last forever. Some day, it will just be a story that you tell, and maybe even laugh about.
I’ve talked mostly about our personal experiences in this article, but we also learned a lot about growing a new business. If you’ve enjoyed working from home during the quarantine and you're thinking of starting a side hustle of your own, check out my recent interview at Project Hatch where I share a few things I wish I had known when we started out.
And thank you again, our friends and customers, for your support. Please feel welcome to drop us a note via email or on the blog comments.
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