Elijah Godfrey – Second Chance Custom

We showed up at Second Chance Custom’s north Austin workshop bright and early. It’s an industrial warehouse that sits alongside several other identical, industrial warehouses, all lined up and ready for business. As promised, there was fresh coffee waiting for us. Elijah Godfrey, the man behind Second Chance Custom, greeted us with the most genuine of welcomes, and we got to talking.

There was something pretty great, refreshing even, about the lack of frills. Just a modest place with a small office-type room and a huge workshop. This is where Elijah, along with his apprentice Clay, gets down to business and where craft furniture and goods are born.

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Photo courtesy of Lisa Woods

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Elijah has nearly a lifetime of experience working with his hands. Although the business is only a couple years old, Second Chance Custom was a long time coming. Elijah grew up on a farm is Dumas, Texas and spent summers in Colorado building cabins with his PaPa. “He’s the one who taught me how to swing a hammer and put a board through a table saw.”

Eventually he left the small, panhandle town that he called home and headed to the big city… well, sort of. He headed to a bigger city anyway. After a short stint in ministry, he started to use his skills as a craftsman professionally – doing handyman remodeling work and eventually working for a home-builder. He’d already made the decision to break free and do his own thing when he started dabbling in one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted furniture.

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Once Elijah made his hushed, custom tables public, the emails starting swarming. Dozens of inquiries about custom work landed in his inbox within a couple of days, and he hasn’t looked back since.

He realized quickly that there was a market for quality, handmade goods. Everything he does, from personality to product, is authentic, focusing on sustainability and craftsmanship:

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I believe we have a responsibility to take care of our planet, to give back, to plant, to invest in her as much as, if not more than we take away from her. If I can contribute to that cause by reusing materials or preventing trash from being crammed in the soil and turn those things into something beautiful, like a table or accessory that can be used on a daily basis, then I’m going to do everything I can to continue to move my business and people towards that type of living. Not only does one receive a beautiful product, but they continue a great story…Where once it was a board that some kid swung on in the backyard, it becomes part of a tabletop that people gather around to share a meal.

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This champion dumpster diver’s philosophy is simple: make quality furniture that people love and appreciate. “I’m not in it for the money, at all. That’s not what drives me.” Because of his simple and sincere approach to all of this, he’s been able to sustain his business entirely by word of mouth, and his satisfaction comes from knowing that his clients can sit with the pieces he makes and just love them. “I don’t like this idea that only rich people can enjoy beautiful things.”

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The word of mouth is extended far beyond the household. Elijah’s commercial work can be found in some of your favorite places around town. Whether it’s a cutting board, table for your home or a one-of-a-kind library wall in a commercial space, Second Chance Custom can make it happen. And the craftsman behind the work are pretty nice, too.

Soon you can see a huge range of Elijah’s talents in Thunderbird Coffee and Mockingbird Domestics.

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