Southwest Handmade is a contemporary heirloom furniture design studio based in Durango, Colorado. Founded in 2017 by Jesse and Jaci Crawford, our work is the collaborative process of creating original and meaningful lifestyle objects crafted from the highest quality natural materials.
Using a combination of modern tools and traditional techniques, Southwest Handmade's approach to production bridges the past with the present. By utilizing the best of from both the old and new, SWHM is actively preserving traditional skills while also pushing the limits of what is possible with current technology.
Pieces made by Southwest Handmade are often inspired by geometry and forms found in nature. With each new design, Southwest Handmade remains focused on developing authentic expressions while maintaining our core design values of minimalism, elegance, functionality and strength. During the development process, all Southwest Handmade pieces are meticulously refined so that every specification enhances the ergonomic experience while also celebrating each product’s method of construction and sustainable materials beauty.
I'v always had an entrepreneur's mindset, I didn't really want to go to college especially when I realized how expensive it was going to be for me and without really knowing what I wanted to do, it didn't seem like a good idea at the time. I grew up watching my parents run a small business from about when I was 8 until I was 15. I saw first hand what it took to develop something and what it was like to watch your hard work be directly related to your purpose and your story.
I skateboarded pretty much until I was too old to be on my parents health insurance. So growing up I was always building skateboard ramps. My father would make me re-use all of my wood and nails so once I would get bored with whatever I made I would have to carefully take everything apart, straighten the nails and start over. Looking back screws would have made a lot more sense.
After high school I entered the trades. Getting jobs from family friends that were electricians and contractors. These types of jobs are plentiful for a young adult with a reliable vehicle and a capability to continuously show up mostly on time. This allowed me to move around and learn from many teachers while picking up on what to do and what not to do. After I met my now wife Jaci in Breckenridge, Colorado we decided we needed to travel while we still had time to blame our crazy decisions on youth. We bought a 1984 dodge van for $1,200, put very minimal cash into the engine and remodeled the inside as best we could. We quit our jobs and ended our lease with no intention on returning. We slowly made our way west, driving an average of 50 miles a day and seeing where life would take us. When we went as far West as we could, we headed North. Six months later we landed in Portland Oregon. By then we were more than ready to have running water again. We found jobs, and lived in the van in the city until we had enough money to get an apartment. That adventure gave us a special perspective. One that I'm grateful for today. We had spent all that time together and didn't want that to stop. Our new goal was to develop something that allowed us to work and travel and be together as much as possible.
I had landed a great job with a company called Tall Firs Building Co. It was a young design/build company and when I joined it was just me and my boss. Looking back this was the most important opportunity for the development of my confidence and development for design that I have had so far. I was often asked my opinion and was often given the opportunity to learn. After a year or so I was running daily operations and training new apprentices.I worked with Tall Firs for a little over 3 years.
In January of 2017 we found out that Jaci was pregnant with our first baby. This amazing, terrifying news confronted our life and we decided it was time for another change. Financially our situation was not going to support our family once Jaci left her job to be with our baby. The concept of child care wasn't something we liked the idea of and was too expensive to justify anyway.
That summer we decided to take another leap of faith and moved to Durango, Colorado. Closer to our families and to start a business where I could work from home and be there to see our family grow.
In August, our daughter, Iris was born. Our business was beginning to get attention. We set up a booth at the Durango Farmers Market selling cutting boards and other small items in order to meet clients for our furniture. Occasionally, bringing one of our finished pieces to the market to show off before delivering to the client's home. This amazing community that we are now a part of has given life to our dreams and purpose. We have developed a handful of genuine friendships with our clients that believe in our work and the life it provides us. I make sure they know that they are making a difference for us. They are a part of our story.
Our business is coming into it’s third year. We are still a young company, and a young family. We now have our second child and every day is filled with its own challenges and plenty of extraordinary moments.