Brian Ciciora: TrueWerk


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Welcome back to a brand new episode of the Woodpreneur Podcast. Today’s guest is Brian Ciciora the founder and CEO of Truewerk. Brian and his company Truewerk are the first apparel brand to be featured on the Woodpreneur Podcast, and while he has a very unique story to share, it is rooted in the same journey as so many other Woodpreneurs. He wanted to solve a problem, and work with and support the trades.

Brian’s story begins at the start of the recession in 2008. At the time, he was working for a tech startup and got laid off when the recession hit. Despite the layoff, he was good friends with the company’s CEO, who sat Brian down and told him that while he was doing sales at the time, he had the skills and the heart to make it in the tech industry, and he should “build a house or something.”

“I kind of laughed and then took it to heart and realized that, to a certain extent, I’d been playing in a game that I was set up to play. Go to college, get a job behind a desk, try and make money. But my heart was in building, it was in the trades. I was ultimately just going to keep getting set up for failure in desk jobs.

It was a leap of faith, it was a jump to leave the security of a desk job, and to ultimately do something that I often felt like society was telling me was in some way beneath me. But in my heart, it felt like the right journey.”

  • Brian Ciciora

Photo Credit: @truewerk

Starting it as a Test

One of the things that inspired Brian was a company that was selling simple steel-framed tables with wooden tops, but they charged high prices for their products. Brian wondered if he could make something just as nice and charge around the same for them, so he put an ad out on Craigslist to sell a table of that style.

At the time he put out the ad, he hadn’t built one yet, but he was gauging interest. Immediately he was inundated with replies from people wanting to buy the table that he had posted about. Brian responded that the one he had posted was gone, but he would be happy to make another one for that person.

This test speaks to the entrepreneurial mindset, and Steve notes that Brian just went ahead and said he could build the product to see if the market wanted it, which gave him the certainty that his fledgling business would have an audience.

Around this time, Brian began to develop relationships with several people in the Denver, Colorado area as he had just moved up to the mountain town of Winter Park. Originally, Brain was making one or hour-and-a-half drives to Denver to pick up steel from a fabricator there, but after a while, he struck a bargain with a local fabricator who, as he puts it, “suckered him” into welding for them doing spiral staircases, ornamental railings, and structural work.

“I think there’s a lesson here for people who are looking at opportunities in the skilled trades. There’s this narrative that life in the skilled trades is kind of like this sentence that at 18, you sign up for the skilled trades, and you’re going to forever be a plumber if that’s where you start out.

But it’s just this journey that you can move around. And there’s so much opportunity, that it’s anything but a closed door. The journey through all of these different skilled trades often culminates in doing something that combines a bunch of them in a way that that really works for you.”

  • Brian Ciciora

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