There are a growing number of websites serving shoppers looking for hand-crafted products. Now a startup called CustomMade hopes to find a similar audience for custom furniture.
If you’re familiar with artist marketplace Etsy, custom-jewelry site BlueNile, or custom-apparel site Zazzle, CustomMade.com may feel a bit underpowered. The site doesn’t include options to customize a product for yourself, like you can on BlueNile and Zazzle. You can’t even browse and buy products like you can on Etsy. Instead, there are just profile pages for more than 900 custom woodworkers, along with photo galleries of their work and a contact button.
But CustomMade President Michael Salguero told me that’s intentional. Describing Etsy as “the eBay of hand-crafted items,” he said his site’s approach is the right way to deliver truly custom products. You’re not just buying an already-made good, or designing a product from a limited list of options. Instead, at CustomMade you find the woodworker that you want, then you can send them instructions for exactly what you want.
“Custom is a service, it’s not a product,” Salguero said.
CustomMade was actually built by a woodworker, but Salguero and his co-founder Seth Rosen purchased the site from its original owner a year ago to accelerate the tech development. Since then, the user base tripled from 300 woodworkers to 900. There are 300,000 custom woodworkers in the United States, Salguero said, so “we’re basically scratching the surface.” He also said CustomMade could expand to other industries like jewelry and metal-working.
Salguero raised $500,000 in seed funding when he bought the site. CustomMade’s basic plan for woodworkers, which includes a profile, a photo gallery of six projects, and listings in local search results, costs $195 per year.