We recently connected with Brian Duncan and have shared our conversation below.
Brian, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today How did you come up with the idea for your business?
After retirement from NYC Parks Capital Project Division, I needed a “hands on” way to remain connected to designing and building. Creating Live-edge River Tables met both of those requirements.
“Exclusivity” – I was excited by the opportunity to combine live-edge wood slabs with vibrant colors which allows me to create pieces that are guaranteed to be unique, one-of-a-kind items. I think that people are attracted to owning pieces that are exclusive so, I take the time to listen to my customers and try to see their vision before any design decisions are made.
Herkimer + Nostrand, LLC was named in homage to the Brooklyn neighborhood that primed me for this journey and each one of our tables is named after a Brooklyn street.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
I’ve always been interested in designing & creating. I was introduced to architectural design at Brooklyn Tech HS and received my B.S. Arch from CCNY. I spent 30 years working for the NYC Dep’t. of Parks serving as a Construction Project Manager. I designed the layout of our current, modest, home.
Teamwork was mandatory and I was fortunate to be surrounded by a team of very talented people while working for the Parks Dep’t. “On time and under budget” demanded following plans and specifications to the letter, as well as paying attention to details and scheduling and coordination of a skilled labor force. I was a member of the team that won the 2016 Best Capital Construction Team, while serving as the Resident Engineer for the completion of White Playground in Manhattan. I was involved in rebuilding parks, recreation centers, boardwalks and playgrounds all over the city prior to retiring in 2019.
Our clients know that I work with you to transform your vision into a reality. I’m a listener and problem solver. Our work is not bound by the artificial constraints of style. We are committed to big ideas, details, and believe that serious design can also be beautiful.
Have you ever had to pivot?
Even before I retired, I was looking for a way to stay connected to the design/building arena. I considered getting into real estate sales, architectural photography and home inspections. I was never a very good salesman so, I had very little confidence in that avenue. I enjoyed photography but I hadn’t really studied the trade and I found that there’s a lot that goes into taking photos that people will pay for. I took certified home inspection courses to prepare but I had to be realistic and recognize that climbing up on rooftops and/or navigating through crawl spaces were not smart ideas at my age!
So, I had already pivoted 3 times when I discovered river-tables. I was drawn to their beauty and unique woodgrain qualities. I committed to learning something new and it swept me away. I started woodworking as a hobby, people liked what I was producing and I turned my hobby into a small business.
Any insights you can share with us about how you built up your social media presence?
Social media platforms were also new to me. I was on Facebook but not really using it. My children & grandkids helped me launch a website and introduced me to marketing on Instagram and Fb.
This allows me to get my work publicized without spending a lot. I’m always posting photos of my work and sometimes photos or short clips of the work in progress. Describing the piece that’s being displayed and directing people to your website for more info can also be helpful. Talk to people – interact with followers when they comment. In addition, I have found that posting multiple photos on a Reel with music can get a lot of views and can bring in new followers. We email a newsletter out to show off new items or re-show old ones. Whenever I’m pitching my business with someone in person, I usually ask for permission to add them to our emailing list.