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Entrepreneurs

MADE Winners – Arts Category

By Staff Reports, posted Feb 24, 2017

DUMAY GORHAM DESIGNS

dumaygorham.com

Year founded: 2008 | Number of employees: 1

Top official: A. Dumay Gorham III, metal sculptor, owner and manager

Company description: Gorham specializes in metal sculpture, custom design and fabrication projects.

Target market: “Art enthusiasts, home and business owners”

Company growth: “After starting with sales of small, rough, hand-crafted pieces sold at art shows, I’ve graduated to mostly custom, commissioned-based projects.” Some of those have included large public art installations, and clients have included the city of Wilmington, UNCW and Live Oak Bank.

How has your product helped impact the region’s economic development? “I believe art and sculpture are an integral part of the cultural fabric which makes up our landscapes, cityscapes and architectural surroundings. My work helps to aesthetically enhance the environment and hopefully make the experience of living in or visiting the area more appealing.”

What are your future goals for the product? “Recently, I started selling DoorBoards – a product concept I’d been developing for a while. DoorBoards are stainless steel, surfboard-shaped door knockers with custom-printed and hand-painted graphics. Some friends and I are currently developing sales, marketing and production strategies. As that project moves forward, I plan to continue taking commissions for custom sculptural and design elements.”
 

HALF UNITED

halfunited.com

Yearfounded: 2009 | Number of employees: 10

Top officials: Carmin Black and Christian Black, co-founders

Company description: The accessory and apparel company founded by the sister-and-brother team puts its giveback business model front and center. “We’re using fashion to fight hunger with the sale of each of our products giving seven meals to hungry children.”

Company growth: “HALF UNITED was born from the dream of brother/sister team, Christian and Carmin Black, co-founders and first two employees. HALF UNITED now employs over 10 team members with a variety of backgrounds including, designers, models, jewelry makers to name a few.”

How has your product helped impact the region’s economic development? “HALF UNITED is creating many of our products in the U.S., with many of them being made by hand in our local facility. We’ve also hosted numerous interns from UNCW and several of Wilmington’s high schools in an effort to invest in the next generation of our community’s leaders, business owners and citizens.”

What are your future goals for the product? “We aim to grow our network of manufacturers in Wilmington. As a result of increased sales we forecast to employ 10+ hand-makers, alone, in 2017. We are working on a custom line of apparel and accessories that will launch this fall that will include T-shirts, hats, bandanas, pins and more.”
 

MARTIN CUSTOM WOODWORKING & ANTIQUE RESTORATION

martin-antique-restorations.com

Year founded: 1986 | Number of employees: 5

Top official: Curtis Martin, owner

Company description: Custom builds furniture, restores antiques and handles fire/water/move damage claims

Company growth: “Growing up in my dad’s workshop, I graduated at NCSU in Industrial Engineering’s Furniture Manufacturing and Management. I wanted to know all aspects of wood, from seedling to kiln drying – an education that allows me to serve my clients with utmost knowledge, design, building and wood finishing here in Wilmington. Having had a partner for 12 years in Greensboro, I moved my family to Wilmington in 1998. We have a 6,000-square-foot woodworking shop in Northchase, and employ four men besides myself. My son Jacob is our fourth generation Martin man in the furniture business, joining our company over five years ago and is being groomed to take it over when I retire.”

How has your product helped impact the region’s economic development? “Designing, building, and custom finishing quality, solid wood furniture is a dying art. Much of the North Carolina furniture industry left the country in the 1980s, and the custom work involved is truly blood, sweat and tears. Few enter the profession today. Our shop supports five families, and it thankfully survived the recent recession without laying anyone off.”

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