BUILT with Love: Andrew Watson and Chris Kelly

In Interview on September 3, 2013 at 11:49 pm

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There’s a new energy buzzing in Seminole Heights. It might be a table saw. Or it could be that there’s a new gallery space in town. With BUILT being a custom furniture workshop and Workspace being a new gallery and event space, the two work together to add more creativity and community to the neighborhood. We’ll hear from both of these gents as they share what they’ve learned about running their business and about themselves since opening their doors in January 2013. You should know that both Watson and Kelly added a #4 lesson to their answers, which I found really amusing and great.


Andrew Watson – Founder of BUILT

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Andrew Watson and build custom, handmade furniture.


What were you hoping for when you opened ‘Built’?

I was hoping for a place for my friends and I to come together and get creative. I was hoping people would love my furniture. I was hoping to be able to support my family by making.


Favorite ‘BUILT’ moments since opening in January?

1. Turning the lights on in the warehouse.
2. Delivering each piece of furniture.
3. Teaming up with Chris Kelly.

What is the most difficult obstacle you’ve faced career or creative project related? Did you overcome it and if so, how?

Well, originally I was trying to team up with a couple friends. We all worked for the same millwork company and I looked at the bosses like, “If these two boneheads can do it, WE definitely can.” They were really inspiring and didn’t even know it. After making that realization, I started really pushing for us to break away and start our own company. It wasn’t the right time for them, so I was on my own. I was a little bit bummed, but I overcame it by adjusting the vision and putting my work and ultimately myself out there. I surrounded myself with super-inspiring people, like my good friend Keith Burnson, and set new goals.

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[Click below for the full interview]

What have you learned about business since opening ‘BUILT’?

1. There is a lot more to it then forming an LLC and buying machines.
2. A lot of the day to day business management tasks aren’t as fun as forming an LLC and buying machines.
3. “The hardest part is in the start” – Merchline

What have you learned about your craft?

1. Things that matter can’t be rushed.
2. If the day is long and you’re getting distracted, go home.
3. Tools are sharp and they’ll cut the shit out of you if you let them.

How about your self?

1. I’ve learned that I’ll never know it all and thats a good thing. I like being a part of a team and surrounding myself with people that are better then me.
2. I’ve learned that asking for help is really tough but is usually worth it.
3. I’ve learned to not be afraid of change. You have to set goals and have a vision before you start anything worth doing. At some point you have to take “the leap” and go for. Just don’t jump out there with your blinders on. You’re going to have to do a whole mess of sidestepping and other advanced dance moves to reach your goals. Ive learned to not be so stubborn. Yes set goals but its ok to change them.
4. If you’re gonna bet on something, bet on yourself.

What were your worries when you were developing the concept for ‘Built’?

Probably the same things that everyone worries about before starting a company. BUILT grew very organically. I built some furniture for a friends office space. Then some outdoor seating for a restaurant in Ybor. Then I had a few jobs lined up and not enough time to do them, so instead of saying no, I quit my job and started BUILT. I guess what worried me most was that moment right before I quit my job and spent every penny I had on an idea. Talking about it, and dreaming about it, and having a beer and REALLY talking about it is all fine and good. At some point you gotta jump and thats pretty scary. Good thing is, once I started BUILT I was so busy opening accounts, buying machinery, making lists, buying machinery, getting a warehouse and buying machinery that I was far too busy to be worried anymore.

Have those worries been replaced by new ones or are they still there?

No, those worries are long gone. The day to day wares on me sometimes and I get worried about missing a deadline. All that means is I haven’t been surfing in a while.

What do you like about furniture-making?

Furniture making is a lot like life. The harder and more focused you work, the better the end result will be. I really like that I make things that are useful and sometimes look nice.



What would you like to accomplish in the next year?

I’d like to employ some people. Making furniture is really great, but making a company that affords other people the opportunity to be creative and gives them a way to pay there bills as super neat.

What are you doing when you’re not making beautiful, custom furniture?

Surfing! Just picked up tennis and am really loving it. I like doing things that are dynamic enough that I cant just be good at it. I like putting in the time and effort. I like earning it.

Finish these sentences:
I love: the smell of freshly cut mahogany… just kidding. I do really like that, but what I love most is my wife. Without her support, BUILT wouldn’t be possible.
I’m not a fan of: impolite/negative people. It’s 2013. Find what you like to do. Learn as much as you can about it. And then do that until you want to do something else. Quit being so damn grumpy.
I hope to: build things that people will love for a long time.
Life is: too short. Go surfing! And buy a piece of BUILT furniture.

Chris Kelly – Founder of Workspace

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Chris Kelly and I try to do as much as I possibly can. By day I work as an Apple Consultant for Core Training and Consulting, by night, I’m the founder and director of Workspace. I also create art and do graphic design in my spare time.

What were you hoping for when you decided to run ‘Workspace’?

I was just hoping to build something new in Tampa. There’s a shortage of galleries and opportunities for artists in Tampa and I wanted to create something that could give artists a place to show their work, as well as give people something new to be a part of. I recognized a great opportunity to partner with Andrew Watson of BUILT, he had an amazing space with beautiful work and I thought it would complement a gallery nicely. Andrew was exploring the idea of a co-op space, so naturally we figured out the details and made it happen.


Favorite ‘BUILT’ and ‘Workspace’ moments since opening in January?

1. Daily games of kick-around.
2. Our first event, “Welcome To The Hood”.
3. Daily banter amongst friends, I love giving them shit.


What is the most difficult obstacle you’ve faced career or creative project related? Did you overcome it and if so, how?

My “career” itself has constantly been evolving and that has been a bit of an obstacle. Art and Design has been a main interest for me, and it’s been difficult to continue to progress and push myself to find that “thing” that keeps me wanting more. It’s difficult at times to just continue to do good work. There’s times where you’ll create something and it’s a dud, but you keep going and create more. I can usually tell ahead of time when something just isn’t going to work for me and when I realize it, sometimes it takes time to understand it, but when I do, I always listen to myself and move on when needed. It always works.

What has running a space taught you?

1. Keep track of your goals and maintain a budget
2. Work with good people who are talented
3. Keep moving forward
4. Ask questions!


What were your worries when you and your friends were developing the concept for ‘BUILT’ and ‘Workspace’?

There really weren’t any. Hell, I figured that anything new to Tampa’s art scene is better than nothing. We’re winning by default. If we do anything, we’re going to do it the best we possibly can and by that standard, we’ll always be progressing and developing our business.

Have those worries been replaced by new ones or are they still there?

The only worries now would be completing all the work for my solo show on 9/21/13. I’m trying to put something really good together and hopefully people like what I show. If not, all of friends will be getting some new art…

What would you like to accomplish in the next year?

I’d just like to get a little closer to complete happiness.

What are you doing when you’re not managing a space?

If theres waves on the east coast, I’ll be over there. If I’m not over there, I’m probably working on something for Core or spending too much time in front of my computer.

Finish these sentences:
I love: Cape Cod.
I’m not a fan of: seafood.
I hope to: continue to do good things with good people.
Life is: amazing, I truly love all aspects of it.

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