What a fun group! These are the skilled wood artists behind Dancing Grains Woodworks. I got to visit their custom furniture workshop in North Boulder for a personal branding photo shoot and interview the owner, Austin Aaron.
He shared how carving a simple wooden spoon out of a stick escalated to intricately carved banquet tables and a booming business. When you talk with Austin about his work, it doesn't take long to realize that this guy is living his passion.
Read on to learn what inspires his furniture designs and see some of his team's brand new photos!
Kasey: What is your business?
Austin: Dancing Grains creates custom furniture, cabinetry, staircases, and all kinds of wood and metal projects. We also have the Boulder Boardroom which is focused around direct lumber sales. People come in and buy what they need – anything from regular domestic hardwood to reclaimed barn wood, to live edge slabs.
We sell directly to residential clients as well as commercial projects. There are lots of restaurants around here where you can see our work.
Kasey: What impact will these personal brand photos have on your business? Austin: Our online presence right now shows a lot of skill and design passion indirectly, but nobody knows where it comes from. I think putting a face to the name with new professional photography will get people excited to work with us. If you look at our social media posts, any photo that has humans in it does better.
Kasey: What makes Dancing Grains unique?
Austin: You know how if you like pizza and you go to a pizza joint you might be like “this is great, I love it.” But when you go to a really nice restaurant, you take a bite and your eyes close and you sit back and put your fork down. You’re just like “Wow. That is amazing.” That’s the kind of difference that I’m looking for in the way our furniture affects our customers.
We bring an aesthetic component to our work that you don’t find in a lot of places. Our work takes the good things that we like about the different types of interior design genres and then we mix in our own elements to create really unique products.
We’re affected by our daily environment more than we realize. You can buy normal furniture, but if you find a piece that does more than fill a void – it really adds something - it can make you feel more excited or more creative. The more pieces and interactions you have like that can really open up your whole life.
Dancing Grains is also unique in that we are all about converting trees to a finished product. We use as much local lumber as we can. We reclaim a lot of urban trees that are coming down from normal maintenance.
Kasey: Your house must be beautiful! What’s your favorite piece in your home?
Austin: I just finished a new dining table for my house. I think I’ve made probably 10 or 11 pieces for myself. My bed is my favorite. I woke up with the idea a year to the month after I started making furniture. It was way above and beyond anything I had made previously. It’s all hand carved and sculpted. It took me 200 hours to make.
The design brings in the live edge natural part of things with this way more refined type style that I really like. That juxtaposition is fun for me. I like being outside and I really like art. My favorite designs tend to be fairly sculpty. I just feel relaxed when I see curves.
Kasey: What is your creative process like?
Austin: I’m most inspired in nature. If I’m outside I will see shapes that are happening naturally and that will spark ideas. I find that I have the most ideas when I get time away. I like hiking, biking, paragliding. I’m also getting into rafting. I’ll be going rafting down the Grand Canyon for a month soon.
I love that feeling of inspiration when I can immediately see a whole piece in my head and I get it on paper the way that it looked in my mind. Once I have that and I can feel what this thing is going to look like then I know I can build it.
Kasey: What is your favorite client story?
Austin: I found this dining table sized walnut slab with really cool figures in the wood grain. I had an image of an offset cantilevered design (Check out their website to see it!). A client came in and they liked another table design for that slab, but I said “by the way, here’s what I actually designed for that particular piece”. They got really excited and we went for it! I got to do the design I wanted and they loved the finished piece more than their original plan.
Kasey: What sparked you to create your business?
Austin: I was working in wilderness therapy in Utah. We had to carve a spoon to eat with. I carved a spoon and then I carved another spoon and then I carved more and more. I got nicer pieces of wood and then I started making spatulas and tools and knives.
When I moved to Colorado I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I started having more and more ideas for furniture. I couldn’t think of anything else. So I just started buying tools slowly. Very slowly. Then I just improved my skills and confidence over the next few years.
I followed the energy. I took on more and more work and found people who could help me and suddenly I had a team and this building.
Kasey: What is it like to run your own shop?
Austin: Being a manager is a lot of work. I spend countless hours making sure everything is here when we need it and remembering all the little things that keep us moving. Understanding who you are and the personalities you hire is so important. We’re here 8 hours a day, 5 days a week and we see each other more than we see anybody else.
My team right now feels super solid. It took energy to find people who jive well together. It’s cool to see the distance everyone has come as they’ve gotten more skilled.
Kasey: What are you most excited about?
Austin: For the last decade I’ve had this vision of bringing trees from the city and milling it here, designing and building our own furniture, and having a show room to sell it.
That’s happening! Now. I’m signing a lease today for a new space. We’ll have 2900 square feet of showroom with tons of live edge slabs. Clients can come in and see various finished pieces to get inspired for what style they like. Then they can choose their slab, choose a finish, and choose a base. Or they can take it off the showroom floor. We’ll be having a grand opening in the summer of 2019!
Dancing Grains Woodworks
I'm Kasey, and I'm a different kind of photographer. I work with (often camera shy) entrepreneurs and business owners to help them stand out and attract the people they WANT to work with. If you'd like to learn more, shoot me a message below. I'd love to talk with you.
Or, check out my personal branding photo gallery to see more.
Sending good vibes and love!
- Kasey, Fractured Frame Photography