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Life & Work with Hilary Metz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hilary Metz. 

Hi Hilary, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
My story starts with my grandfather and spending summers with him in his shop. I learned all about tools by watching him keep old farm machinery running. On farms, you don’t throw things away just because they stop working or a newer model comes out…you fix what you have. He would say “she has been with me this long; all she needs is some attention to show me that she still has some life”. That’s where I developed my appreciation and passion for reclaiming old wood. Sadly, that passion didn’t surface until after he passed. We were so close that when he died there was such a big void left in me that no matter what I did I couldn’t fill it. I had mentioned to my wife one day, seemingly out of the blue, that I wanted to build a shop on our property. Amazingly she was on board! Once I got in there, I found so much healing and inspiration….it was like he was there with me. I started working with really old cheap wood I found as a way to get my feet wet and learn. That old wood ended up teaching me so much more than could ever imagine. After a lot of work, I started bringing out the most beautiful grain in that old wood…. realizing that it still had some life in it. I felt such a close connection and healing in that wood after such a huge loss in my life. From there my inspiration grew and giving that old wood new life became my passion. Over time I apparently acquired some skill and attention….so I started Metz Made, LLC. My nephews now come help me in the shop occasionally and I am able to teach them some of the skills I have picked up or that my grandfather taught me. I think they feel that magic in the shop too, especially when I’m able to tell them stories about their great grandfather. That’s priceless! I started up with no business loan and have been scraping by ever since. I felt that if I was owned by a bank my craft would suffer, but as long as it was my own, I wouldn’t have to make compromises just to make the loan payment. I’m quite proud of that. Do I struggle most months? Yes, of course! But each struggle teaches me something. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Nothing is “smooth” in the small business world! What I have found is that there is always a bigger fish prepared to offer a similar product (albeit with cheaper parts and no real guarantee other than a replacement with another piece of crap) at a lesser cost. Convincing customers that you can make a better product with reclaimed materials is often a tough sell, especially as a woman. When I do festivals, my family goes to help. My brother-in-law is there for support and to move the larger pieces. Customers always come to him to ask about “his work”. He always laughs, throws his hands up, and says “no man this isn’t mine, it’s all her”. I then step in and talk about my product and my process, and most times they initially look at me in disbelief. They used to just walk away but I now have more people staying to talk and reaching out saying they love that their piece is being made by a woman. That’s progress to me. Getting people to not only love the product they are buying but believe in the person designing and building it has been a challenge…but one that has definitely been worth rising up to! 

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I design and build industrial furniture, home accessories, and lighting from reclaimed materials and galvanized piping. I love using old wood that has a history and restoring it for a new purpose. I will take something old and seemingly worthless and, with some imagination and TLC, give it life again. I occasionally incorporate other elements, like leather, if the mood strikes. I see the potential in things people have abandoned and then uncover the beauty in them. Over time I started designing lighting with some of the same old materials, and that interest developed into more of a passion. I loved seeing how those elements looked against light. Once covid hit, like most people, I cleaned out areas of my house. I cleaned out our bar and found a ton of pint glasses from local breweries and boxed them up to donate. After staring at them a while I came up with a couple of designs for lamps. I started turning them into brew lamps, designing the lamp around the brewery or the beer being showcased on the glass. I threw them up on social media and took them to festivals to see if there was any interest…turned out people loved them and wanted more. Customers now reach out for custom lamps with pint glasses from their favorite breweries. I now make custom lamps for Southern Brewery in Athens and am currently networking with other local Georgia breweries. So far what I am most proud of is that my customers trust that I will deliver what they are looking for, and sometimes what they didn’t even know they wanted! I love watching their faces when they see their piece up close for the first time. Most of my customers respect that what they are buying is my art and, although they provide me with guidance on their piece, they give me the space to let my creativity loose on it. I’m always nervous when I deliver it but it’s like a kid on Christmas morning kind of nervous because I can’t wait to see their reactions! So far, they have all been amazing…which is also something I am quite proud of! 

I never think about what others are doing to really know what sets me apart from them. I try to stay focused on me and my work and giving my customers something, they really love. If there is something that sets me apart from others, I hope my customers know whatever that is… 

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
Luck is not something I really believe in… good or bad. Blaming your successes or shortcomings on luck is just a way of not owning your achievements and mistakes. Take your medicine…no matter how it tastes. 

Contact Info:

  • Email: metzmadellc@gmail.com
  • Website: metzmadellc.com
  • Instagram: @metzmadellc
  • Facebook: @metzmadellc


Image Credits

Nikki Sims

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