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The Art of Making Furniture by Hand

June 27, 2019

Daniel Erickson and Shelby Holtzman founded the Ferndale company Long White Beard to make one-of-a-kind furniture for the community.

By Cheryn Hong

After meeting in a coffee shop five years ago, Daniel Erickson and Shelby Holtzman turned their shared passions and skills into the furniture-making company Long White Beard.

The mission of the Ferndale company is to make one-of-a-kind tables, shelves, benches and other furniture pieces for homeowners and businesses.

Via Long White Beard's Facebook

“I was working at a company and I wanted a change, so I was looking to start a business. I personally didn’t know how to make anything, but then I met Shelby,” says Erickson, 45, of Plymouth. “From there she would make things, I would learn to weld, and that is how Long White Beard started.”

Holtzman and Erickson began their business in a Ferndale garage in 2014. From there they moved on to the Russel Industrial Center in Detroit and sold their products to customers across the nation on Etsy, as well as locally to family and friends. Yet the dynamic duo felt something was missing.

“We weren’t able to interact directly with our customers, and we knew a lot of local people needed quality furniture, so we moved our business to Ferndale,” says Holtzman, 31, of West Bloomfield. “Now we love when people come talk to us, see examples, pick things up and get the entire experience.”

Via Long White Beard's Facebook

The name Long White Beard is an homage to Erickson and Holtzman’s late fathers who both passed before they met. While not long, both fathers had white beards and were creative influences on both of the founders.

“The important thing for our customers is that they know high-quality, hand-made, custom furniture is available in the Detroit area,” Erickson says. “We’re here for them, their ideas, and to create a piece of furniture they can have and enjoy for the rest of their lives.”

The LWB founders say they strive to produce furniture that is aesthetically pleasing and unique to every customer. They also want to ensure each piece they make is special and recently have been executing that with live edge wood.

Via Long White Beard's Facebook
Via Long White Beard's Facebook

“Live edge means that the piece of wood is more distinct. We’ll build something that best exemplifies that piece of wood, so you get a lot of colors, grain and patterns that traditionally are thought of as flaws,” Holtzman says.

LWB is also participating in the summer program Camp Carpenter organized by the nonprofit Popps Packing. A program held on the border of Detroit and Hamtramck, kids can build their own projects and designs with the help of professionals.

“When I went to high school, we didn’t have shop class anymore, which is a shame because I probably would’ve gotten into my vocation a decade sooner,” Holtzman says. “I like the idea of teaching kids that tools let you go from a raw material to a final product.”

Customer Trevor Eisley asked the pair to create a picture frame, beer holder and a memory box with a butterfly. Knowing Shelby through his wife, Eisley says he appreciated how simple the process was.

Via Long White Beard's Facebook
Via Long White Beard's Facebook

“They asked if I wanted to see the designs ahead of time, but I always declined knowing I was getting something of extreme quality,” says Eisley, 37. “The attention to detail they put into their work is amazing. Every grain, color and stain had a purpose.”

Both Erickson and Holtzman take pride in what they do and are committed to working locally and serving their community. They say their business is about working with customers to design and produce something they didn’t believe was possible.

“We like the idea of how the process is intimate and personal,” Holtzman says. “And while the customer might not get to have input on every little detail, they’re getting to see the product develop from the ground up.”

Long White Beard

860 Livernois Ave., Ferndale



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