GOT WOOD? Introducing Jermain Todd
WHEN CREATIVE CRAFTSMAN, JERMAIN TODD CREATED THE FIRST COFFEE TABLE IN THE SPACE AT MWANZI CO. WHERE HE STILL OPERATES FIVE YEARS LATER, HE HAD NO IDEA HOW FAR HIS CRAFT WOULD CARRY HIM. AFTER FEELING THE EFFECTS OF A FAILING HOUSING MARKET, TODD’S COMMERCIAL CLIENTS AND FABRICATORS—TO WHOM HE WOULD DISTRIBUTE BAMBOO PLYWOOD—DIMINISHED DRASTICALLY, LEADING HIM TO EXPLORE ALTERNATIVE AVENUES THAT WOULD SOON ALLOW HIM TO BECOME ONE OF THE CITY’S CREATIVE COLLECTIVES AS HE CULTIVATED HIS CRAFT.
It was the instability of the housing market that allowed Todd to re-evaluate his focus and step out on faith to build Mwanzi—Swahili for Bamboo. After studying countless YouTube videos, books, and after correcting many mistakes, Todd evolved into one of the most recognized craftsmen in the country—but it didn’t come without its challenges. He first had to face his fears and focus on the future he’d planned for his family.
“When you go through hardships in your life, fear is something you put on yourself. I’d been going through some stuff so it wasn’t that hard for me to take that step because I had no other choice. I had to do it.” He continued, “You go out there, and you give it your best shot because you have nothing to lose. That was the situation I was in. I had no other choice. I had a baby. I was recently married. My wife was still in college, so I had to make it happen. Fear was certainly there, but if I allowed that to stop me, I would’ve stayed in that hole, and what kind of life is that?
“Fear. If I allowed it to keep me down, I don’t know where I would be today. I may have stayed in that rut. I thank God today. I do exactly what I want to do, and I’m so happy with the course that my life has taken.”
Although he learned a lot about business while obtaining his business marketing degree, Todd tapped into his true self and decided to build a brand based around his innate interest to creatively construct raw materials into eco-friendly, functional furniture that keeps people marveling at these modern-day masterpieces.
“I want to make a good living off of the work that I do everyday. While I’m doing that, it’s important for me—because I work with wood—that I’m environmentally conscious of how I use wood and sources of wood that I use,” Todd stated. “Also, an extension of that would be the finishes that I use are low VOC or zero VOC, so there are no hazardous, unhealthy off-gassing in the pieces that I make for people.”
Today, his client list has expanded from a residential client base to commercial clientele from all over the world. Local venues that house his products include: The Libertine, The Wheelhouse, Side Project Brewing Company, The Old Bakery Brewing Company, Urban Chestnut, the Kitchen Sink (an upcoming venue), and Rance John. However, his work has caught the eye of international clients to fly him out to complete their commercial projects with custom pieces hand- crafted by Mwanzi Co.
Inspired by the world around him, Jermain Todd sees art in everything and it shows through each of the unique pieces in his growing collection. He carefully crafts each order, etching out each detail by hand. With a goal of ensuring that he brings his clients’ ideas to life, this self-taught woodworking design strategist has created his own lane with wood and steel, and he’s looking forward to sharing his work with the world, one piece at a time.
Find out more about Jermain Todd and Mwanzi Co. at ww.mwanzi.com.
words by Seven L Maxwell