James Broyhill II describes himself as being a “problem child” in his youth — a relatively harmless accolade that typically just lands kids in detention. James’ problem-child behavior, however, landed him in his grandfather’s wood shop.
“To prevent my mother from going crazy, my grandfather would often take me to his home on weekends,” recalls James. “He had outfitted a home workshop and found that I was most calm simply banging a hammer against wood.”
At the time, neither grandfather nor son probably expected this wood-shop therapy would later lead to James’ passion and now career, Heritage Handcrafted: a furniture company that specializes in making handcrafted pieces from whiskey and wine barrels.
Looking at his family history, it’s no surprise James ended up in woodworking; his relatives have been in the furniture business since 1926 when James Edgar Broyhill started a chair manufacturing company in Lenoir, North Carolina. Four generations later, when James started woodworking as a hobby, he saw a Jack Daniel’s barrel and crafted it into a bench. From there, he’s been designing, working, experimenting, exploring and creating one of-a-kind pieces with fastidious attention to the detail, style and story of the piece of furniture.
“He [my grandfather] always said, ‘If you’re going to do something, do it the right way.’ This has stayed with me regardless of the workload; I never cut corners on detail simply to reach the finish line.” This mentality makes Heritage Handcrafted stand out in a crowded market; in his workshop, there’s no assembly line, there’s no mass production and there are no two pieces that look exactly the same. The barrels are received mostly from the Southeast (Lynchburg, Nashville and the Carolinas) and allow him to create furniture that is distinct in both style and functionality.
“We find furniture, along with many other consumer products, as simply space fillers. Rarely are items passed down through generations. We are trying to break the mold by offering products that are quality, functional and have an interesting story from the first day they’re brought home,” says James, reflecting on the way furniture can be so much more than just an item in a room.
The Heritage Handcrafted inventory currently includes chairs, benches, chandeliers, sinks, coffee tables and something called a “celebration box,” all of which appear as intriguing and appealing as you might imagine.
“In ten years I see Heritage Handcrafted as the premier handcrafted/sustainable wood concept in the United States, already combining the talents of an existing base of passionate wood artisans/designers with the production capacity of custom U.S. manufacturers; we are headed in that direction.”