We had the good fortune of connecting with Care Verikas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Care, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
When we first started the business, we worked for what felt like 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We felt the need to be constantly working and we were burned out. We fully believe in hustle and grind but we learned after the first year that there just has to be some sort of balance. So when 2022 came, we decided to plan an adventure every quarter. It gives us something to look forward to and work towards. We also try our best to take Sundays off together so that we can see family and friends. Doing that really helps keep the burnout at bay and we are so much happier (and productive) than we were when we first started.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Dusty Dude Woodworks is a custom wood shop based in Bristol, CT. We specialize in custom furniture, home decor and lawn games . DDW was started in a friend’s basement back in 2017 with a few cornhole sets, cutting boards, coasters and decorative trays. It grew over time with the support of friends and family. As the years passed, the requests grew in quantity and actual size, so when we bought our house with a detatched garage, we thought it would be the perfect fit for the forseeable future. In short – we couldnt have been more wrong. When COVID hit, Eric was furloughed and we decided to do one more push on social media to see if we could get this to be a full time hustle instead of a side hustle. Needless to say, Eric gave his notice and we LLC’d the business in October of 2020. After a few months, we quickly realized that the garage was too small for the requests we were getting and we found our current shop space located in downtown Bristol. As the business was growing, Care was tackling all of the marketing, sales and customer service while still working her full time job. One of the largest challenges that we faced and still face today as a small business, is the lack of funding options. Dusty Dude is a fully self funded business – with no help from a bank, we have made it to where we are today. That definitely can cause stress from time to time but you do what you gotta do to continue to grow. In the summer of 2021, Care was able to leave her full time job as we received a contract for 6 months with a company in Texas – we were manufacturing 400 cutting boards a month and freight shipping them. Without any funding, Care had to roll up her sleeves and get working in the shop. At that time, our marketing took a bit of a hit but it was a sacrfice that we needed to make in order to hit deadlines. Fast forward to now, July 2022, we have learned a lot about delegating things to people who are the pros in their area. Like having a lawyer, a CPA, etc. We know that our time is valuable and we are not the pros at everything. It is so important to learn when to delegate and when to do something yourself. We have grown a lot in the last year, learning about time management, work-life balance, and so much more. Dusty Dude now has a 300 sq foot showroom & gift shop that highlights our products but also supports 14 other makers. We also offer classes hosted by local makers that range from cookie decorating to paint and sips, build your own bath bombs and more! We are heavily involved in the community and that is how we have grown our business and our reputation. We don’t pay for marketing and rely heavily on referrals and recommendations. We tried PPC and it was a big lesson for us. Custom woodworking is a niche and trying to put dollars behind it did not work in the end. So we went back to our roots – social media, community outreach and refferals.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
10am-3pm – Stop by Lake Compounce to ride some roller coasters and enjoy time in the sun in their waterpark
3pm – 4pm – Stop in at the Carousel Museum!
5-6:30 – Grab some dinner at our local spot – Main Street Pint & Plate. Say hi to one of the owners JR! The cocktails are amazing here!!
6:30-8 – Go mini golfing at Hidden Valley Mini Golf. They just opened up their beer garden.
8-8:30: Wrap up your day with homemade ice cream from Rich’s Farm here in Bristol! You won’t regret it and make sure to get the homemade whipped cream too!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Our shoutout definitely goes to our family and friends who have been with us since day 1 of Dusty Dude Woodworks. They have believed in us from when we were brainstorming ideas on our friend’s front yard in lawn chairs, to our 3 different shops before our current space and they still support us now with our 1,500 square foot shop that specializes in custom furniture, hosts classes for the community to enjoy and with our second business which is coming soon. We wouldnt be where we are today without your constant support as we ride the roller coaster that is being small business owners.