Philadelphia, to me, practically screams every endearing adjective in the book, but for now, we'll hone in on its strong roots and its creative aura like no other. We all know that the City of Brotherly Love was our nation's first capital, so that means we've got kiiiind of a moral compass when it comes to architectural matters (and it dates way back... way. back.). Let's just say, we treat our construction like art. It's from the heart. It's the fuel to our city. We might hate when there's road work on I-95, but at least it's employing our people from within and keeping our city up-to-par.
Between constructing our buildings to our roads, we also have a thriving market custom creating all things wood right here in Fishtown. Philadelphia Woodcraft effortlessly embodies the down-to-earth, yet quality personality that defines our city, and you're in luck; the owner, Joe Malseed, was kind enough to talk to me about what it's all about.
Nina: When and How’d you start this business? What inspired you?
Joe: Well, I’ve been a carpenter since 2005 and noticed so much waste on job sites and demos I was working on at the time. Throwing away all that good material (studs, joists, and floorboards) was crazy to me. I wanted to find a way to repurpose those discarded items and find a way to build with them. The path from there was obvious, so I officially started my own business (originally named Retrend ) in 2010.
Nina: Were you always interested in carpentry?
Joe: Always, my uncle is a great carpenter and I was interested in the craft at a young age.
Nina: What kind of jobs do you do? What’re your favorites?
Joe: We do a lot of custom restaurant and bar work, of course, and we like to mix in a little residential work when we are slow.
(Nina: The houses around here look FRESH with some nice slabs of wood either as floating stairs, roof decks, or even decorative art pieces).
Nina: Where or how do you get all this wood, anyway?
Joe: Various contractors looking for a cheap way to dispose their materials, honestly.
(Nina: Recycling points! Sustainability is the truth.)
Nina: Do you do collabs with other companies or people to bring your vision to life?
Joe: We often work with great designers at Groundswell Design Group and bring their visions to life. We've also recently collaborated with the talented people at True Hand Society as well as Philadelphia's own "heartist" (Nina coined this term), Amberella.
Nina: Speaking of Philadelphia's own--where were you born and raised?
Joe: Where else but Fishtown, Philadelphia?
Nina: What has been the straight up coolest thing to happen at the shop?
Joe: Music. Videos. We were fortunate enough to build a set for Nothing and have their "Vertigo
Flowers" video shot here. Also, Dan Campbell (or "Soupy") from The Wonder Years shot some of their "Raining in Kyoto" video here as well.
(Nina: Both of these bands are Philadelphia, through and through, so the collaboration of both music and carpentry in one creative space truly exemplifies where this city's head is at. Emphasis on creativity. Emphasis on building from the ground, up.)
Nina: What’s your favorite thing about having a business in Philadelphia?
Joe: The word of mouth. Without people talking and recommending us, I don’t know where we would be. I’m not super techy, and my website has been down for years. So people spreading our info and referring Philadelphia Woodcraft to people they know has been huge.
Nina: Where do you see your business going in the future?
Joe: I’d like to stay put where our roots our in Fishtown and grow from here. We are currently looking for more shop space. To be continued on that one.
Nina: How can people best contact you to get some work done?
Joe: IG, for sure. Instagram has been a vital service in the growth of PWC. Please follow our account, @philawoodcraft, and don’t be afraid to slide into my DMs about anything you'd need.
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