Here at Serious Grit we're passionate about not only about abrasives, but also about the people who use them. Every maker who uses our product has a story to tell.

Oftentimes people have sacrificed quite a bit to be in the position they are in and we're here to highlight those stories. 

Our first interview was with Joseph Gerber of Gerber Design Co.


Tell us your name and what you do.

So my name is Joseph Gerber, and I run Gerber design company, and I do woodworking. And now it's more content creation and things like that that have just come along with it that I didn't expect.

How did you get your start in it?

Kind of like most people, we bought a house, and, um, we just had some, like, old fence that we needed to tear down. And so I, like, tore some of it down. I was like, hey, maybe I can make a coffee table out of this. So, like, I made a coffee table.

Just, like, screwed everything together, just screws everywhere. Um, it worked, and it lasted, like, a really long time. Um, it was, like, rustic farmhouse, so it's like, it was beat up. So everything. Yeah, it was all good. I don't even know if I sanded it, honestly.

Uh, and, uh, I didn't do anything after that for, like, a while. And then my wife got into, like, furniture restoration and flipping and stuff like that with one of her friends, and I was like, oh, that's cool. So she was, like, doing that and, like, painting stuff and doing things in the garage, and I was like, I want to try to do stuff, too.

So I started messing around, and we had, like, a miter saw and a drill. Like, that's, like, all I had. And then I was like, we started trying to make some tops for, like, some of the dressers and stuff like that if they were, like, old or beat up or just, like, put something new on it.

And then it just kind of snowballed, and I just got obsessed with it, and I. I couldn't stop. And then I was just buying tools, and I was mostly making coffee tables, like, out of just scrap wood that I would find. Or I had a friend who did, um, like, deck and fencing, and he would just give me stuff, let me pick through, like, his stuff that he was going to toss.

And so I'd, like, grab things and then make, like, a coffee table and sell it on Facebook marketplace for, like, 50 or $100. And I was like, I'm making so much money. That's awesome. Yeah. And so. And then from there, it was just, like, um, made an Instagram and just kind of like everybody else.

You just start doing things and learning different things and, like, oh, so you're technically. You probably should not screw that together. Uh, like that. And. But, I mean, some of the things I made a long time ago, like, were for friends, and they still have, like, the table or the bench.

I'll see it, like, on their Instagram or something. And I'm like, I can't believe that thing is still together. But I guess sometimes if you over engineer it, I guess, and put too many screws, right. It's not going anywhere. Yeah. Yeah.

Pocket hole screws do work.

Yeah, I mean, it was pocket hole and just, like, just straight top down screw. Like, just screwing boards to things that weren't even glued together. Like, it was awesome. It was wild. Um, and then just kind of, you know, watch people, and you're like, I want to build something like that, but you don't have the tools, so you try to save up or sell things and pick up some tools.

And, I mean, at that point, I was, you know, still working full time, so, um, you know, most of the money that I was making from selling $100 coffee tables was just savings or going towards other tools. So that's just kind of how it snowballed. That's awesome.

How long ago was it that you started?

Uh, that was, like, 2017 ish. Um, uh, 2017 to 2018. I, um, think February 2018 is when I made my Instagram page. Um, um, nice. And got real serious. And then, um. Um, I don't. I didn't get an LLC until 21, when I, um, um, quit my job and started doing it full time.

What led to you quitting your job?

Um. Um, well, luckily, um, um, my wife had a really good job, so, um, um, we, like, did the math, and, like, if I didn't do any work, make any sales, like, we could pay all of our bills, but that's, like, about it. Um, so I'm like, oh, well, let's just, you know, give it a shot.

I mean, she was pushing me to do it way before I thought I could do it. I was like, I don't know. Cause it's just, like, it's scary not knowing. Like, I mean, just, like, kind of, like, sales. Like, you know, you're commission based or whatever. Like, if I don't make anything and sell anything, I don't make any money.

So at that time, luckily, we were in Texas at the time, in San Antonio. In San Antonio, massive city, and so I had, like, gotten in, like, kind of doing accent walls and barn doors, and, like, every single person I would do something for would, like, share it to their Facebook neighborhood group, and then, like, I would get some inquiries that way and just.

Just. There was no end of business there, so it was, like, seemed like the right time to try to jump into it.

What do you sell? Who do you sell to? Who buys it?

Um, well, lots of tables, benches, um, shelves, plant stands. I, uh, make the little geometric art pieces sometimes, sometimes really big ones. I really like doing those. Those are fun. I've had some sales on etsy lately, which has been awesome because I, um, haven't had tons of luck on etsy.

Like, little things here and there, but, um, I've had a couple big pieces, um, the last couple months, but just kind of whatever anybody wants, for the most part, I'll try to do it. And if it's something that, like, feel like, you know, you need a CNC or, like, certain things, and I'm just like, yeah, ah, that's a little out of my scope.

Um, makes sense, but that's cool. Then.

What does the content side of your business look like?

That's just, uh, strictly another revenue source, um, because I also really like making videos and content. So, um, it's something that I'm trying to get more into, um, ideally, uh, uh, so I'm trying to do much as much of that as I can. And it's weird because, I mean, I'm sure it's the same for most people.

Like, I had no idea or desire to make videos. I was like, I want to build and sell furniture. Um. Um, and then, like, once you start doing it, it's like, man, I got to get a nice picture of this. It's like, if you want, like, you know, I can't have, like, a, you know, half assed blurry picture and try to sell something.

So it's like, you try to just learn how to take nice pictures and, you know, and set that all up, and so just kind of started falling down that road because I was having a lot of fun with it.

What would you say so far has been the most challenging obstacle that you've faced in your journey?

I mean, sometimes just, you know, finding business, like, um, now we live in a smaller town, so, um, it's. It's not as easy to, you know, like, there's not the same neighborhood Facebook groups. And, I mean, that's definitely the challenge is, you know, finding, uh, clients for, you know, the type of work that you do.

Because I'd like to ideally make higher end furniture, but sometimes, you know, especially right now, like, not everybody can afford a $2,000 dining table.

Is that what you would say is the most challenging aspect of your business right now? Finding new clients and continuous work?

I mean, that and also, like, just being, being organized with, you know, business receipts and, you know, income and, like, doing your taxes like that's? Super fun. They definitely, I'm sure, you know, they don't make it easy to do your taxes as a small business at all. Um, so just making, trying to stay on top of that because that's, I mean, I've got add and that's organization and is something, uh, that I've always struggled with.

So it's like, I get the receipts and then I like, keep them in my pocket or I set them down somewhere and then I was like, ah, crap. And so it's like, I got a folder now and it's just a matter of getting them to the folder. Definitely was not prepared for the amount of stuff that you have to do to run a small business.

It's just a lot. Yeah.

Would you ever go back to working full time for someone else?

Like, I would rather make less money and have the freedom than make more money and like, have to report to somebody at a certain time, all the time. So, yeah. Ah, I mean, as long as it's sustainable and we're able to pay our bills. Um, you know, this is what I'm going to try to do, but if I have to, you have to.

That's just the way that it is sometimes. But yeah, for sure. I would definitely like to try to stay on this track as long as I can. That's awesome.

What would you say is next on your journey?

Um, I mean, my biggest thing is just focusing on making videos, um, building up my YouTube page, um, because I like editing and making videos. So I want to make dope videos that people enjoy to watch. And I also like, want to try to make videos for other people and local businesses or, um, you know, tattoo artists.

Like, whatever it is. Like, I, I enjoy making videos, so it's like, I'd like to get out and film somebody else a little bit more often because, yeah, I mean, filming myself, it's just moving the tripod and try and trying to get cool shots, uh, and then trying to edit it, like, cool things in the edit.

Oh, thank you. Like, I feel like I'm, um, you know, I've got a good idea of what I like to see in videos, so I just try to mimic that. But it's like when you're filming somebody else, you just have so much more. You can just do so much more.

You learn a lot and that's, you know, as, just as you're doing it. And so that's what's been really cool is it's, I had no idea what I was doing before any of this. I had no idea what I was doing when I started woodworking, and I kind of figured that out.

So I'm like, I could probably figure this out, too. It's just a different, different thing. But I'm sure that I can work my way over there and get pretty good at it.

It's a good way to look at it. Uh, it's a different craft, but the process is the same, you know?

Yeah, that's what I'm really. I've, like, said this before. It's just, I'm stoked that about, like, woodworking, because it. You look at what I was making five years ago or whatever, and then now, and it's like, you see a huge difference in the quality of what you're making. And for me, it's always been hard because it's like, if I don't see that progress, like, you know, month to month, even, it's just like, I'm not getting any better.

Like, why am I even doing this? But it's just like, woodworking has showed me. It's like, hey, you get. You'll get better. It just. Sometimes it takes some years. Um, unless you're doing it, you know, 40 hours a week, you know, every single day, like, so it's, like, not something that I do constantly, but I'm doing a little bit every day or every week, so I know that eventually I'll get down that line and I'll be really good at it.

Yeah, you're right. That progress over time is so motivating.

Yeah. That's why I'm glad that I've documented most everything that I've done overall. It's like, I can look at stuff from, you know, five years ago and look at stuff from a week ago, and I'm like, wow, that is drastically different. And that's what's been hard, is, like, on Instagram.

And not to say that it's easy. Cause it's not, but it just, like, once, like, I had a video that popped off, and it's just like, you gain all these followers and, like, you see, you know, how much you can grow on all these different platforms. Um, and then I'm working on YouTube, and it's just so slow.

It's hard to stay motivated sometimes when you just feel like you're putting all these hours into this video, and then you post it, and then it gets, like, you know, 20 views, and you're, uh. Like, yeah, cool.

Let's go for 40 next time.

Sweet. I got four likes on it, too. We're cruising. We're cruising. I've tried a little bit to do, like, some talking in front of the camera, like, set up, like, with the mic on and everything, and it's. It's hard and it's awkward, and it feels cringy and whatnot. But I just always tell everybody, just, like, just do it.

You know? If you like talking in front of the camera and just do it, who cares if you sound like, you know, weird or whatever? You don't like how it looks. I'm like, maybe somebody's gonna enjoy it. And it's like, the same with, uh, people that make stuff. I'm like, just post your.

Put your stuff out there. Like, show people what you. Because some people are like, it's not good enough or whatever. Who says it's not good enough?

Leave a comment

More stories

Film vs Paper-Backed Sanding Discs: What are Film Discs and Why Should I Care?

  We sell sandpaper, but is it actually made with paper?  Nope! You may have heard us and other high-end sandpaper manufacturers refer to their sa...

What Do The Numbers Mean in Sandpaper? (You probably don't know the full story...)

  If you've ever done any sanding, you've likely seen the numbers printed on the back like 80, 120, 220, etc.  And if you're experienced you proba...