Making a Mark
In creating custom wood pieces through Mwanzi Co., Jermain Todd is taking the St. Louis maker movement around the globe.
JERMAIN TODD PRODUCES CUSTOM WOOD PIECES AT MWANZI.
If you were to walk into the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, Zydeco Brew Werks in Tampa or even the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa, you might spot a familiar logo on the custom wood tables and displays. The burned-in words “Made in STL by MWANZI” immediately mark it as a piece of woodwork by St. Louis-based Jermain Todd, owner of Mwanzi Co.
The tables at some of the Gateway City’s most popular restaurants, workspaces at the Cortex Innovation Community and circulation desk at Nerinx Hall all bear that same mark. Mwanzi woodwork has been around since 2005, but it wasn’t until 2009 that Todd was able to purchase his own wood shop in the old Lemp Brewery to work fulltime on his creations.
Learning how to run a business while simultaneously producing furniture, Todd had his work cut out for him. But his passion for wood and craftsmanship outweigh the stress of failing.
Standing in his studio, surrounded by hundreds of pieces of sustainably sourced wood, Todd notes, “If there were wood just on all the walls and not one piece of furniture, I’d [still] feel like this was an amazing place.”
Todd is a member of the wider maker movement that started overtaking the country around 2005. He even wears the mark of one — the word “maker” is tattooed on his right forearm.
The maker movement represents a shift in consumer desires from widely produced products to small-batch, unique pieces created by (mostly) local artisans. Ecommerce websites like Etsy punctuate the movement by helping artisans reach beyond tradeshows and local events. And even Amazon joined in on the movement with Amazon Handmade in 2015, which it included in its annual Prime Day in 2019. In St. Louis, it’s happening at spaces like MADE in the Academy neighborhood, at Arch Reactor in the Downtown West neighborhood and in garages, craft rooms and schools around the region.
Check out more of the article at https://thestl.com/culture/making-a-mark/
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