TRAVERSE CITY — Matthew Smith often gets compliments and questions about his beard.
How long did it take to grow? How do you trim it? Do you put anything in it?
“He gets comments all the time,” said Anna Smith, his wife of a year and a half.
The Munson Medical Center nurse will have some trouble shaving his black beard anytime in the immediate future. Smith filed the first new business name of 2019 with the Grand Traverse County Clerk’s office.
Smith filed his assumed name, Bearded Woodsmith, at 10:54 a.m. on Wednesday, the first day the Governmental Center was open in the new year. An assumed name (also called a DBA or “doing business as” registration) is the easiest way to officially create a business identity.
The Smiths actually filed the first two new business names of 2019. The couple also registered the business name River Ridge for their basement apartment rental — but Bearded Woodsmith came first.
The couple said they weren’t necessarily planning on submitting their paperwork that morning, but were completing several errands before heading to Fit For You Health Club. Anna Smith said they stopped to get coffee and looked at some cabinets for some built-ins at Creative Kitchens, and were near the Governmental Center.
“We got coffee at Mundos, stopped at the cabinet place and here we are,” said Anna Smith, who works as a wedding photographer.
Matthew Smith said he first got into woodworking around 2010 when his grandmother gave him some carving knives. Smith said he usually produces things like bird carvings, wooden spoons, ring boxes for weddings, beer caddies and shaker boxes.
The best box Smith ever made held the most important item in his life: His engagement ring.
The ring box with a magnetic closure was not only a great keepsake, but it came in handy to replace the bulky one from the store.
“I thought it would be nice to make the box,” he said. “Besides, how are you ever supposed to hide (the original box) in your pocket?”
Matthew Smith popped the question to Anna on Sept. 21, 2016, at Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, the site of the couple’s first date. After an affirmative answer to the ‘Will you marry me?’ question, Anna had one of her own.
“After she said ‘Yes,’ she asked, ‘Do I get to keep the box?'” Matthew Smith recalled.
“I said ‘Yes’ first, we hugged and then I said, ‘Do I get to keep the box?'” Anna remembered saying.
The engagement ring box started generating some interest after Anna went on social media.
“I posted a picture of the box online,” she said. “A lot of people have asked me, ‘Where can I get the exact same box?'”
For their July 29, 2017, wedding, Smith made each of his groomsmen a wooden beer caddy that holds a six pack of bottles.
One of the wedding guests, Sarah Benoit, wanted one made for her husband, Matt. That became the first real sale for the soon-to-be-named Bearded Woodsmith.
“She inquired about me making one for Matt for his birthday,” Matthew Smith said. “He was blown away by it. He said he uses it all the time.”
Bearded Woodsmith operates out of a two-car oversized garage at their River Road home. It will be an online business for Matthew Smith, who, in addition to working as a nurse is attending school to be nurse practitioner. The Bearded Woodsmith isn’t quitting his day job any time soon.
“No, this is more of a side hobby/money for funding other things,” he said.
Matthew Smith said creating something for someone else is a payment in itself.
“I enjoy making things, but I really like making things for other people,” he said. “It means so much more when someone hand made it and put their time and energy into it.”
The Smiths have been landlords since July.
“This is our first landlord experience,” Anna Smith said.
“It’s been great so far,” Matthew Smith added.
The couple’s River Road house had its own apartment in the basement when they moved into it in March. They spent time renovating, painting, replacing cabinets as well as putting up some drywall before opening it up.
The Smiths said they wanted to get a business name for the rental businesses sooner, but anytime before tax season worked.
“Life happens,” Matthew Smith said.
“We kept putting it off and putting it off,” Anna Smith added.
Waiting until Jan. 2 gave the Smiths a chance to register not just one, but two business names. And it afforded them the opportunity to be the first new business of the year in Grand Traverse County.