Today we’d like to introduce you to Rob Cortes.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Rob. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was introduced to the world of furniture very early. My father was a custom finisher and furniture designer for about 40 years. From the time I could walk, he would take me to his shop where I would watch him work. He later retired and I knew that I would want to continue his legacy some day. With that interest in mind, I enrolled in a trade school where I studied furniture design and photography along with branding and marketing. After about 2 years of school, I took some time to figure out exactly what I wanted to do and ended up moving to Kansas City, MO where I met a guy who was looking to hire his first employee for a small furniture business he had started the year before. This is where I got my official introduction to the furniture business. I spent two years working at that shop and learned the ins and outs of crafting quality furniture and also learned the business side of things. After two years the business grew, we had 8 employees and the responsibilities got bigger, but I knew it was time for me to move on and do my own thing. My girlfriend at the time (now my wife) lived in Miami and convinced me to move back to FL to start my own business. This was a very big decision but I felt it was the right move. After I moved back to FL from KC and after working at a big furniture shop, I was trying to figure out how to do my own thing, so I decided to make and sell smaller sized items through Etsy and used Instagram as my advertising and marketing platform. I spent endless days and nights understanding how it all worked and little by little, orders started to come in and I could no longer work out of my bathroom. Yup, I used my bathroom and balcony as a shop for a while. Realizing that I needed the space to make larger things and that I needed the proper space to take on more work, I began to look for a shop. With the help of my wife, her parents and my parents, I took the leap of faith and have been rocking ever since.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Not at all. Just when you think you have something figured out you realize that you dont. That the game, I guess. Nothing worth it comes easy. Sure, it’s great to work on your own terms and to have the freedom to do what you want but it comes at a price. Running a business and starting one was a huge learning curve, I completely screwed up all my financials the first year because I didn’t understand accounting or taxes. I didn’t realize that I would be working sometimes, up to 70 hours in a week because of poor time management (my wife was not happy about all the time I spent at work so that sucks… I got way now better though) trying to understand a market and who my customer, it was hard because I didn’t fully know who I was as a business entity (I later figured that out) I’ve spent endless nights without sleep due to my body being in pain. One thing no one who makes furniture talks about is the strain on the body especially the hands and arms. And then, the weeks that would go by without one order and trying to figure out how to get a few sales before months end to pay the bills. the list goes on and on. There’s always going to struggle, it’s what we learn from a situation and keep it moving. It equates to growth and I love every single challenge that I encounter.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Grove and Anchor story. Tell us more about the business.
Grove and Anchor is a custom furniture shop that specializes in handcrafted furniture. What sets G+A apart from other business is the same thing that I am most proud of, I offer detailed custom pieces of furniture that are tailored to each client needs using locally sourced and natural materials. Every piece is made by hand and made by me. I happen to be a one-man shop, so I am hands-on 100%. From the first email or phone call from a customer inquiring about something, to ordering materials, sketching, designing, to fabrication and delivery. this allows me to give each order my full attention.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
All of it. But, luck favors the prepared. It’s also timing, it’s knowing when that right moment is present and you have to jump on things or you will miss it.
Kris Tamburello, The Habitat Collective