“This is a great service that is available in a community as small as ours. I wish more people appreciated and took advantage of what’s available to them.”
Brian Newell began carving wood at age eight is now a world class furniture artists who recently decided to set up shop in Fort Bragg on the Mendocino coast of California. In 2004 Robert Long described Newell’s work this way in American Craft Magazine, “His work combines cleanly executed pieces, what seem to be contradictory qualities, such as weight and lightness, formal elegance and whimsy, is his secret.” Newell’s work is the product of remarkable journey from his hometown of Flint, Michigan to Atsugi-Shi Japan on the outskirts of Tokyo and then to the California Coast.
This is not Brian’s first time to the Mendocino coast. He came originally in 1989-1990 to study with the master cabinetmaker James Krenov, who created and led the College of the Redwoods' Fine Woodworking School at the time. Newell’s path then took him to Chicago for seven years. During this time he worked for three years as a patternmaker for the scale model industry and established his own workshop and reputation as an artist.
In 1997 Brian along with this wife and daughter moved to Japan. After ten years building his craft and reputation, Brian decided to return to the United States and the Mendocino Coast.
After moving his business from Japan to Fort Bragg, Brian began setting up a furniture studio. About halfway through the project Newell realized that cost increases meant financing to complete the project would by tight. He contacted the local microenterprise development program, West Company, who provided a referral to Mike Carroll of the Mendocino Small Business Development Center.
Carroll was selected as the appropriate counselor not only because of his expertise in financial matter but because he has a long history working with clients in the woodworking industry. “I am a wood worker myself as well as being a business consultant,” says Carroll, “and working in the same community as the College of the Redwoods Woodworking School has given me opportunities to combine my interests.”
Carroll provided direction as Newell gathered the necessary financial documentation to apply for a business loan. In June of 2008 Brian was successful in his application for a $40,000 loan from the Economic Development and Finance Corporation of Mendocino.