My name is Doug, I’m a furniture maker and the owner and operator of Sovereign Carpentry. I was born and raised in Austin, Texas, and I am a third generation University of Texas Longhorn. I live in Houston now with my beautiful family and I work out of our garage, we’ve put in a garden in the back yard so I can walk out back and munch on okra or cucumbers while I’m working. I've found that woodworking and growing food are both addicting.
When I was a kid I used to make all kinds of things out of scrap wood in my folk’s garage and in Scouts we would make bird houses, step stools or other simple little things like that. I even tried to make my own stilts thinking it would make me a better basketball player. I found out it was better if I stuck to woodworking.
2010 was the first time I sold a custom piece of furniture, it was made out of reclaimed pecan barn beams and to this day I’m still amazed I pulled it off. I had to borrow almost every tool I used, from the table saw down to the clamps that held it all together. I even had to beg the reclaimed wood supplier to at least mill one flat edge on the pecan boards because I didn’t even have the tools to get started. The store I was working at donated some leftover floor finish from a recent project. I struggled so hard to put that table together and it took so long but it was an amazing feeling, and there was something special about working with reclaimed wood. The best part? The client loved it. I loved it.
You’d think after that I’d have stuck with woodworking and it would have been happily ever after. It didn’t work out that way. This was right after the crash of 2008 and I was still having trouble finding good work. I would change jobs, move, change jobs again, in amongst all that change and trying to make ends meet, I forgot about making that table. 7 years later, I had managed to get a career up and running selling retail parts for Mercedes Benz. It was a great job, and I met amazing people - but I was suffering and stressed and I didn’t know why. I had completely forgotten about how fulfilling it was to work with my hands, to be creative and to be my own boss even if it was a struggle. Luckily for me, I was about to get a big reminder out of the blue.
Finding the Path Again
The same client that I had built that reclaimed pecan table for emailed me out of the blue, I thought “oh no...I don’t have time for this. what happened, did the table fall apart?” He said “hey, I don’t know if you remember me, you made me a custom coffee table, I was wondering if you were still making furniture and if you could make me some more pieces.” I thought whoa...that’s awesome, but I don’t have the tools and I’m not even in the same city anymore. I had to let him down easy, but it brought back all the memories about how amazing it was to make things and to work with my hands.
So I slowly started buying some tools making simple furniture for my wife and I, then for my neighbors and friends, and then started selling to clients. I used to wake up 2 or 3 hours early every day to work in the shop, I would shower to get rid of the sawdust, go work my full time job, then come home and go back out in the shop. I did that for a couple of years before I made the leap and left my retail job.
The name Sovereign Carpentry is a self challenge, I wanted to make my own way, work for myself, build prosperity, freedom and liberty. Now that I’m a father, it's even more important to me that I’m able to show that it’s possible. Having a small business has been incredibly challenging. It can be super stressful, but at the end of the day, I love what I do, I wouldn’t trade it, and it does create a ton of freedom and flexibility in my life.