He may look like just another Coloradan, but Francis Eggelton’s charming Kiwi accent (as New Zealanders refer to themselves) sets him apart from the crowd. In 2014, Eggelton was attending a Christmas party in Denver, Colorado. Another guest in attendance was his soon-to-be-wife and business partner, Loretta, a long-time resident of Colorado. The two would marry and bring to the Denver area a ‘good business’ workshop that would stop the local furniture market in its tracks. It would be called, I Made It Workshop.
The Denver metropolitan area has a well-defined identity: a creative haven for small business owners, bustling with laid back, eco-conscious, and outdoor-loving patrons. The residents of the rising city are relaxed with an insatiable appetite for home goods that bring the outdoors inside. Over the last 20 years, the previously tucked away metropolis has gained immense popularity as well. Denver itself is a city in the truest sense of the word: a juncture of business and pleasure with a diverse population of young residents fresh out of college and more long-standing, well-rooted natives, all against the backdrop of the picturesquely perched Rocky Mountain range. Smaller cities like Boulder on the outskirts of Denver have also gained traction amongst those looking for a split between city life and naturally occurring adventure.
This is all to say that despite the laissez-faire attitude of Denver residents, their dedication to ethically sourced products that are ahead of the design curve is unwavering. Francis and Loretta seem to have struck the perfect balance between luxury goods business, and artisanship with the I Made It Workshop.
The community-based workshop creates a welcoming atmosphere for patrons to choose the pieces of locally sourced lumber and craft them into their own, one-of-a-kind coffee tables, dining tables, wine racks, bookshelves, or even charcuterie boards with the hands-on help of Francis and Loretta.
In addition to being the dream of any design lover with a soft spot for rustic-chic decor, the innovative business model replicates that of a farm to table restaurant: sourcing ingredients locally to ensure the sustainability and ethical principles of products while also minimizing carbon footprint as much as possible.
The diverse wood offerings are derived from Colorado’s Front Range, the southern point of the Rockies that touch central Colorado and are home to healthy forests that have the potential for exceptional longevity if its wood is harvested in the least intrusive way possible. I Made It calls their process “Forest To Table.”
“We’re all about keeping it local to minimize our footprint,” the owners say. Milling wood from far off places where the businesses and customers do not have a vested interest in the health of the forests can be detrimental, with large scale corporations ravaging previously sprawling forests, destroying the soil, and simply moving on once the resources have been exhausted. In addition to the sustainability of I Made It’s model, the no-frills workshop also provides a fun, inclusive atmosphere to bolster creativity at all levels. Exposed brick walls with the workshop’s logo etched over their distressed interior and vaulted ceilings provide a genuine sense of place and encourage untapped craftsmanship in those who may think they are not artistically inclined. The workshop is open to anyone who has the desire to try a hand in the craftsmanship of their decor. Patrons pay for their piece just as they would if they were ordering it online, with prices varying depending on the wood selection, size, and of course, the piece itself. The Eggeltons say that most projects require between 6-12 hours, which equates to three to four visits. In addition to the one-of-a-kind stains that customers turned craftsmen will apply to their new item is resin, a dyed liquid that can be poured into cavities on the wood for a colorful uniqueness. It is most commonly used in larger tables in a blue tone, mimicking a flowing river. “…[N]o one leaves disappointed,” says Loretta, “because we are constantly with you. You can’t go somewhere and buy that table. It means so much more when you make it yourself.”