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Brush Factory builds exciting future on a base of craftsmanship and tradition

Rosie Kovacs and Hayes Shanesy, founders of Brush Factory

Brush Factory custom-built furniture for the new People's Liberty office

Brush Factory designed the interior at Continuum, which opened recently in Over-the-Rhine

 
Hayes Shanesy and Rosie Kovacs established Brush Factory in 2009 as a working studio to produce custom furniture and handmade clothing and restore vintage motorcycles. After exploring storefront retail and sewing classes, Brush Factory has refocused its business to hand-made furnishings and design objects.
 
“Our business grew organically,” Shanesy says. Brush Factory today is “more intentional in focus, concentrating on our core values.”
 
Their experience and hard work is paying off, earning Brush Factory a place as a finalist in the 2015 ArtWorks Big Pitch program.

UPDATE: Brush Factory won both awards at the Big Pitch finals.
 
Shanesy, a third-generation woodworker, focuses on design and craftsmanship “not because it's trendy but to build on and celebrate tradition.”
 
Brush Factory produces custom furnishings for individuals as well as business clients such as People's Liberty, Salazar, Noble Denim and Cintrifuse. The idea of ordering custom furniture may sound intimidating to people who don’t know the difference between a finger joint and a lap joint, but Shanesy’s conversational and unpretentious approach puts clients at ease.
 
“Some people come to us with a piece in mind,” he says. “They might have a photograph from a magazine or a particular style that they’re looking for. We work from that initial idea to create a concept to present to the client.”
 
The Brush Factory name comes from the business’ first location in Brighton, where their building was a former brush manufacturer. Today, Brush Factory calls Camp Washington home. Shanesy intentionally chose a neighborhood where they would have easy access to manufacturing and distribution resources.
 
“The metal shop where we have some parts made is literally 500 yards away, and our finishers are even closer,” he says. “It’s crazy how many resources there are right here.”
 
The growing interest in well-made, hand-crafted, locally sourced goods has been a boon for Brush Factory and other Cincinnati makers. Shanesy, one of the first Cincinnati Made members, credits that organization and other regional makers for creating a vibrant and engaging movement.
 
“The community at large has been so supportive,” he says. “The interest in mission-focused business and collaboration with other organizations and companies has created a great word-of-mouth audience for us.”
 
Brush Factory applied for the ArtWorks Big Pitch this year to access the mentorship and business resources offered in the program. They’ve been paired with Bob Bonder from Rhinegeist as well as a US Bank small business specialist.
 
“We’ve been working toward really diving deeper into our business plan and taking it to a better place than it’s ever been before,” Shanesy says. “We are spending a lot of time on what strategies we’ll approach in the next year, including how to work from where we are today and take it to a place that’s exciting and more efficient, interesting and fun. The Big Pitch is a great opportunity to really force us to think about very specific goals and to be able to share those with a wider community.”
 
Shanesy encourages people to attend the Big Pitch finals on Aug. 27.
 
“It’s a fun event,” he says, “and it’s exciting to hear these ideas and have the people behind them talk about what it is they do and how they want to move forward.”
 
What will the Brush Factory pitch? You’ll have to attend to hear the details, but it will involve producing more “ready to go” goods.

Soapbox is profiling each of the eight finalists in the 2015 ArtWorks Big Pitch, a 10-week mentorship program that offers artists, makers, designers and creative entrepreneurs a chance to claim up to $20,000 in cash prizes and professional services. The program concludes Aug. 27 with the finalists giving five-minute presentations to a panel of judges and an audience.
 

Read more articles by Julie Carpenter.

Julie Carpenter is a jack-of-all-trades with a background in cultural heritage tourism, museums and nonprofit organizations. She's a bit obsessed with the built environment and irregularly shares her musings on architecture, urban planning and city life on Facebook and Twitter (@StrawStickBrick).
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