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Conversations with Thomas Hamilton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Thomas Hamilton.

Hi Thomas , so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?

I was raised about 80 miles north of Phoenix in a small town called Prescott. If you haven’t been it is a wonderful place to visit, escape the heat, and call home. From there I moved to Phoenix around 2006 when I was just 18 years old and have been in the valley pretty much ever since, minus a small stint in San Diego and Montana. Growing up I worked a couple of different jobs up until about 2009 when I discovered the optical world and remained in that field for about 10 years. As far as Citizen Wood Company? I started it back in the fall of 2015 as an extra source of income. It all started in a small, one car garage, detached from the condominium I was renting. Little did I know, it was the start to my career.

My workspace was so compact you could almost put your hands up, and touch each wall. No insulation, no heating or cooling, just a space to create and forget. It actually began by up-cycling used furniture. I would find, refinish, and resale small pieces of furniture on Facebook as a little side hustle to make some extra money while working in optics.

As time progressed, I was starting to get inquiries about small, random builds but was always too timid to take them on. I had zero building or woodworking knowledge. Finally, it was time to bite the bullet. After about the fifth inquiry for custom furniture, I said “there must be something here!” I had YouTube, plenty of reading material online and determination, so I said “why not?!” At last I took on my first actual build.

My first build was a queen headboard with integrated lighting. I pushed my self to learn, design, and make it happen, all for about a $500 price tag. I took any extra money from refurbishing and bought the bare minimum of necessary tools, and spent countless hours making mistakes in creating this piece.

From there I was hooked! Seeing the piece come together and in the clients home, I knew that I had found my passion. After about my tenth year in optics and discovering this new passion, I realized I was no longer doing what I was intended to do, no longer using my creative driven brain, my artistic urge, I lost touch with who I actually was, and became almost a robot in society and decided to leave optics’s and jump in full time in about 2019.

When I started Citizen Wood Co it brought back that feeling that was beyond lost for so long. The feeling of accomplishment, the feeling of being a human again, the freedom to create how I wanted to, & not how some corporation told me to.

I have now built my life around it. It has not only taught me how to be creative again, it has allowed me to portray my passion to every single one of my clients.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?

Starting a woodworking business has been no easy challenge.

My shop partner and I joke constantly about how it’s either feast or famine in this industry. You can have ten jobs going on at once and then nothing for months. You learn very quickly how to budget properly for your commercial space, tools, product, private expenses, and more. You have to mentally and financially be prepared in knowing that you can sometimes go weeks or even months without work or steady income. I’d say another challenge is the desire to learn. We can easily get into the rut of habit. With woodworking that can become easy to do when only sticking to one style of furniture. You have to force yourself out of your comfort zone and take projects that will push your skill to the next level. You have to be willing to constantly learn as the skill is unlimited. I heard something kind of cool as of recently where somebody said “You must become comfortable being uncomfortable if you want to be more successful.” and this has hit close to home many of times!

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?

At Citizen Wood Co. I strive for unique.

My pieces are built with precision, quality, care, and one at a time. This is what sets myself and Citizen Wood Co. apart from major retailers. My main focus is to make beautifully crafted Live edge tables, River tables, Epoxy Tables, Farmhouse tables, Credenzas, Conference Tables, Kitchen Islands, and custom homemade decor.

I use only the highest quality of sustainably sourced wood, non VOC finishing products, and top of the line machinery to fabricate your one-of-a-kind heirloom piece. My main goal this year is to move in to the interior designers realm and create pieces for designers to use in their clients spaces. This will push to make things I haven’t tapped into yet as well as expand my portfolio.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?

This is a tough one because I automatically want to go with how much money is in the bank. But honestly this could not be further from the truth.

Success to me is actually waking up every morning knowing I am going to work for ME. No clock in, clock out, no regional managers, no numbers to hit, no one telling you your work day. I wake up in the morning and literally get to create something from my mind, at my pace.

I’ve done what every entrepreneur wants to do and that’s starting a business from absolute nothing. That to me is absolutely the most successful thing one could do.

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