You can’t go wrong when beer and wine are your inspiration — take it from Kristi and Matt Hoffmaster of Hoffmaster Woodworks, whose love for beer, wine and Southern culture culminated in the company's 2013 founding in Charlotte, North Carolina. Together they create and sell beautiful handcrafted folding wine tables, beer caddies, laser-engraved wooden coasters, balancing wine bottle holders and other specialty wood-worked items for your home.
It isn’t all about spirits for Kristi and Matt, however. The husband and wife duo also get inspiration from the exotic woods they use to make their pieces, and they say the true desire to create comes from home. Kristi said the culinary lifestyle of South Carolina, where she was born, is a big part of the origin story.
“I was born and raised a true Southern girl, with sweet tea, fireflies, Clemson Tigers football games, church potluck dinners, and vacations to Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head,” she said, adding that her own background is web design, marketing and sewing.
She teasingly added that though Matt is originally from New York, he “came to his senses” and relocated to the South after completing military deployment and college. “Matt has been woodworking with his father since he was a kid,” Kristi explained. “He grew up around power tools, jigs and sawdust.”
Matt’s lifelong woodworking skills are apparent in Hoffmaster Woodworks’ pieces, which are both stunning and creative. Using pinewood and plywood from the South and elsewhere, Kristi and Matt incorporate Southern flair into their works and achieve remarkably unique results. And they've seen their business become more successful over time, particularly with the dramatic rise of the craft beer market in recent years; in 2015, craft brewers produced 24.5 million barrels of beer, and saw a 13 percent increase in retail dollar value, according to Brewer’s Association.
Hoffmaster Woodworks taps into that rising interest. “Craft beer and wine lovers really enjoy these gifts,” Kristi confirmed. “We’re always thrilled to be part of that.” She added that their works are a hit at weddings, and they receive bulk orders from various companies looking to attract and appease clients.
While the success is great, Kristi said it's still all about providing quality products. “We really take extra time to ensure the products are very sturdy and will hold up to repeated outdoor use,” she insists. Additionally she said they offer customization and laser engraving on many of their products, because in the South “everyone monograms everything.”
As for the specific process of creating the popular handcrafted items, Matt uses graph paper to sketch out a prototype plan that involves variations of whatever idea has come to mind. “We try to automate our processes as much as possible for two sets of hands,” Kristi explained. “We have a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine and a laser that has made some of the cutting processes even faster in the last year or so. We use table saws and band saws, lathes and sand, and we stain by hand.”
Recently Hoffmaster Woodworks has expanded its engraved products to include more coasters and wine holders, and Kristi has introduced Hoffmaster Beauty, an online store offering wooden jewelry and gift baskets for cosmetics and health products.
So, what’s the most challenging process of creating handcrafted wood products for culture enthusiasts? Balancing family life, Kristi said, although she admitted it’s a good problem to have. For now, Matt continues his day job as a supply chain planner for a large corporation, and works in Hoffmaster Woodworks' shop on evenings and weekends, while Kristi cares for their five children, creates products and fulfills orders during the day.
After all's said and done, Kristi's proud that she and Matt are sharing their inspirations through their craft, and said they will continue to make sure customers are not only satisfied with their purchases but also ready to have fun with Hoffmaster products in their homes.
“It’s been really wonderful to spread the love of all things beer and wine!”
All photos courtesy of Hoffmaster Woodworks Facebook