Picture of Clay and JudyBuilding the Simple Life

Our self-employment has always been an idea as well as a business.

Clay was in the co-op segment of his last year of engineering school in 1972 when he discovered what he didn't want to be when he grew up! The company distributed an explanation of its benefits package, showing what his pension would be when retired in 2013. The prospect of sitting there, doing what he was doing, 50 weeks a year for the next 40+ years was unthinkable!

So the idea was born.

The incubation period included a road trip. Six months traveling in a '65 Dodge van, prone to breakdowns (but that's another story) provided enough background information about life, work, and ourselves to stock the shelves of any bookstore's entire "How-To" department. Ed Buryn, author of Vagabonding in America , was our mentor. The National Parks, cities, and backroads of 36 states were our classrooms.

And when we "ran out of gas" (almost literally - it was 1973, during the Arab oil embargo) we had learned how to live in a style that is both rich and simple.

Our first stationary location was a rented house in a mixed commercial/residential area in Dallas. Its first incarnation was a furniture repair and refinishing shop. We'd done a stint selling at an antiques flea market during Clay's last semester. While Clay finished school, Judy finished furniture, transforming junk (often picked up at the side of the road!) into antiques.

As our skill and experience grew, so did our creativity, ultimately expressing itself in the design and production of original, one of a kind, made to order, top quality handmade furniture.
line drawing of our house/shopThe business outgrew our little rented house. We found a wonderful old eleven-room Victorian house on a commercially zoned street in Greenville, Texas. It had been built in 1898 but had fallen on hard times. Divided into rental apartments, then abandoned for several years, it needed all the tender loving care we could muster.

By this time we knew rescuing things - old furniture, stray animals, droopy plants, dreams - was what we enjoyed, so we decided to move in, on a pay-as-you-go/fix-as-you-go basis. Our lovely old house (like us, a little unconventional) served as home to us, our pets, and our business! Woods' Works saved many a derelict (furniture, that is) from the junk pile. We have also produced hundreds of special creations (furniture again) that are both beautiful and functional.

Indeed, we knew each piece so intimately that by the time Clay had built it and Judy had applied the finish, it had become almost alive for us. We sent these children of the workshop off to make their way in someone else's home. Sometimes, years later, we are pleased to see one again! It's gratifying to see it's well-cared-for and to appreciate how well it serves its household!

But we have never decided what we want to be when we grow up. We have re-invented ourselves once again and a new enterprise is the result!

For many years, Judy has also designed and built with words. The offspring of her freelance writing and graphic design business, Word Works, travel far from home, affording both of us the time and the freedom to do the same!

In '97 we expanded Word Works to include web page design. We collaborate on the design, Judy crafts the copy, and Clay writes the code. We're pleased that some of these “electronic children” have even won awards! Visit our Word Works page for links to some of our pages.

Building the Simple Life
Stepping StonesYour Stepping Stones

Bricks and MortarLinks to other pagesLinks to other pages

  Books on Voluntary Simplicity

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Judy Woods
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