Dumbo-Based Furniture Craftsman Bruce Marsh Interview

Bruce Marsh is a Brooklyn-based accomplished entrepreneur, brand marketing guru, tech-saavy professional, and a skilled craftsman. We met Bruce a few times at Modern Tots, a retail store that opened in Dumbo at the beginning of 2007. Bruce is the CEO and co-founder of ModernTots, a retailer of modern furniture, accessories, and toys for children. He has also launched his new furniture line recently, called brucemarsh designs. His furniture craft business creates beautiful pieces of original hand-crafted modern furniture. We talked with Bruce about his furniture and inspirations:

You opened ModernTots at the beginning of this year after founding several other businesses. How did you come upon the furniture craft?

My family remembers only that I was pretty good at taking everything apart. I just think of it as learning how to put things together. The craft aspect came about a dozen or so years ago when I had to push my physical skills to match my imagination.

How long have you been Brooklyn-based and where do you find your inspiration?

I’ve had a studio in Brooklyn for about 2 years now. First in Bushwick, now Dumbo.

Inspiration can come from anywhere; it’s often more important to remember to allow yourself to be inspired instead of moving too quickly through life. Lately I’m obsessed with the Manhattan Bridge and the scale of the massive industrial armature offset by a few wonderful creative flourishes.

How would you describe your style of furniture?

Handmade modern. Slight Asian influences, but really I avoid ornamentation with the dual goals of keeping the design simple and bring out the beauty of the materials and craftsmanship.

There are several furniture craftsmen in Dumbo Brooklyn. Have you met/worked with them?

Initially I intentionally did not publicize my own furniture design so that my focus would remain on ModernTots. Now it’s time to push for my own designs. As a result, I’m only just now meeting a lot of the local artisans.

Sounds like you’ve launched several successful businesses. What is your advice for people who want to start their own successful business?

When I was 14 or 15 an uncle gave me a book titled “Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow”. I never read it. Never had to. The title said it all. The important thing, years later, is to focus at first. If you start out trying to do everything you’ll get distracted, spread yourself too thin, and not put enough into any one goal. Focus on the core of your dream and get going.

The other advice would be to find and talk to people who can help and guide you. I mean really talk to them, in detail, and get their feedback. Talk to them again often.

Check out Bruce Marsh’s designs online at brucemarsh.com or visit him at ModernTots (53 Pearl Street, Dumbo Brooklyn). [UPDATE: ModernTots is closed]

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