John McDonald—the Man Behind the World’s Greatest IKEA Hack—Is Ready to Disrupt the Kitchen Cabinet Business

Each entrepreneur has an excellent story about earlier than they broke out with that large thought. John McDonald, the creator and proprietor of Semihandmade—a Los Angeles firm that makes custom doors for IKEA kitchen cabinets—has no less than two of them.

Let’s begin along with his first dream: changing into a star in Hollywood. The child from Bryn Mawr, PA, moved to Tinseltown after graduating from the College of Delaware with a imprecise plan of “making it.” He flirted with performing earlier than touchdown a gig in the mailroom at Paramount Studios via a household buddy. “I delivered mail to stars like Tom Cruise and Eddie Murphy,” he recollects over the telephone from his house in Southern California. “This was back when Eddie Murphy was still Eddie Murphy, complete with a 30-person entourage.” That led to some PA gigs after which lastly the hardscrabble lifetime of a struggling screenwriter.

John McDonald, creator of Semihandmade
John McDonald, creator of Semihandmade Courtesy Picture

As well as to writing between shifts ready tables, he and his associates had a novel strategy to perfecting their craft. “We used to dumpster dive at Paramount,” says John. “We’d find lots of shitty scripts and we’d also find some amazing scripts that we could use for inspiration.” When he couldn’t discover correct illustration and with none scripts being purchased (he wrote largely thrillers, he says), McDonald tried to turn out to be what simply could be the precise reverse of a Hollywood screenwriter—a member of the LAPD. “I ended up not getting in because I made the mistake about being honest about smoking pot twice,” McDonald says. That, plus an unlucky admission that he ate and gave away to associates extra sushi than he served whereas working at a Japanese restaurant, meant that there was no means he was going to serve with L.A.’s best. “I’m an emotional person, and if I would have shot somebody, I would have shot myself. I never would have done that job.”

It was clearly for the finest. Each aborted careers meant McDonald may flip to what would finally turn out to be his true moneymaker. Though even his segue into customized furnishings making had a tough begin, together with two severed fingers the first day he introduced house a band noticed (one was ready to be reattached). He additionally spent years jockeying at furnishings reveals and teaming up with native architects and designers to create a enterprise from scratch. The large breakthrough got here when somebody made an offhand remark at a kind of commerce reveals about whether or not McDonald had ever thought of “making doors for IKEA cabinets.” The thought didn’t take off immediately, but it surely caught in the again of the entrepreneur’s head. After a tough private interval, that included a divorce and transferring into his woodshop, he started working with Los Angeles architect Barbara Bestor who made that very same suggestion about mixing IKEA cupboards with customized doorways. Thanks to some key early collaborations, he landed on influential design blogs and the thought exploded.

Courtesy Picture

The idea is easy: IKEA makes some high-quality and inexpensive kitchen cupboards, however they’ll use a little bit of a makeover. To that finish, you’ll be able to order the cupboard guts from the Swedish field retailer (together with the primary bins, hinges, drawers, and so forth.), however Semihandmade will make you doorways and fronts in a variety of customized colours and designs. It immediately elevates any kitchen—and nonetheless retains the value well-below full customized. McDonald admits it’s an odd relationship between himself and the Swedish furnishings big, however they’ve settled right into a type of peaceable detente. “I’ve spent a lot of energy trying to formalize something with them, but they’re just not interested,” he says. However the truth stays, IKEA sells all its items a la carte, and about 10 % of shoppers hunt down corporations like Semihandmade for an improve. Clearly, it’s large enterprise, as Seminhandmade reported $14.5 million in income final 12 months. However McDonald, a gregarious man who’s obsessed with enterprise (and baseball), shouldn’t be carried out but.

The one-time wannabe screenwriter is now wanting to additional disrupt the kitchen cupboard enterprise, an business, he says, that’s as stale as they arrive. Together with his new enterprise, Extra by Semihandmade, McDonald hopes to make ordering kitchen cupboards as simple as shopping for a suitcase on-line. It begins with a 3D digicam that’s despatched to your own home (by way of a partnering firm), which householders use to file the particulars of their house. As soon as the footage is uploaded, eight totally different customized designs might be despatched again, and also you’re prepared to place an order. “We want to remove all the pain points,” says McDonald who’s greater than prepared for a brand new problem. “This new thing is scary, but I think we’re in a place where we bring a really great infrastructure, and sales and marketing background and also technical knowledge,” says McDonald, including, ”I’m additionally good sufficient to work with people who find themselves smarter than me.” And naturally, not make it in Hollywood.

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