“That’s Right. We Are Open!” That was the message Johnny Mailloux, Owner of The Custom Cottage in Milwaukee, sent out in mid-April 2020.
Yes, for right now, he’s working alone. His unique, specialized, custom-built furniture business is right on the cusp of “essential,” so he could have retained his team. He chose, instead, to have them be safe and stay at home. The good news is that he applied for the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) and received the loan. “Which means,” he said, “my guys will for sure be back after the Safe at Home order is up!!!”
BTW, they’re all individuals from Milwaukee’s Inner City and Johnny teaches them how to build and finish furniture with their own hands. Every one of his craftsmen are working hard on their second chance in life. All customers play a very big part in The Custom Cottage’s redemptive, rewarding training program. The more custom orders there are, the more work opportunities become available.
More good news is that, despite the pandemic, The Custom Cottage has been getting busier. Some of Johnny’s recent craftsman projects include a kitchen island with cabinets, bookcases, dining tables and a king-size bed made out of 6’x6′ timbers.
Note from kimmunitee: Last summer, Johnny and one of his staff picked up from our home the top of an old banker’s conference table. It and the base it was sitting on were in rough shape. We like the look of farmhouse industrial, so we painted the base black and added several coats of hand wax. The Custom Cottage refinished the table top and delivered it when all was finished. As they state on their website,
Our furniture is cottage — it has imperfections. There are many styles of cottage furniture. What they have in common is the handmade look where imperfections in the wood and the workmanship or just time has seasoned and added to character of the piece of furniture.
So, yes, we have some imperfections in the finished piece. Some are due to the wood and some to the workmanship. But that’s what makes it such a great piece in our home! Whenever I see family and friends gathered around the table—we now use it in our dining room—I smile, remembering our part of The Custom Cottage. See the before and after pictures below.