Nickel City Gritty: Sean Wrafter
I get starstruck really easily. I don't know what it is, but there are a few local people out there who I just admire their work SO MUCH, and I really want to meet them, but I'm way too afraid that I'm going to make a complete ass out of myself and not know what to say (just like the time my dad took me to see Macho Man Randy Savage when I was little because I was in love with him, but when it was time for the meet and greet I got too scared and missed my chance. Still one of the biggest regrets of my life, but that's a whole other story.)
One of these people who I've always admired is Sean Wrafter. For those of you who live in Western New York, you definitely know who Sean is. Even if you don't know him personally, you know his work. Sean is the master behind Wrafterbuilt, a custom carpentry and design studio based out of Buffalo. He's created gorgeous pieces for individuals, companies, retail stores and restaurants (view his portfolio!)
The first time I met Sean, I was super intimidated, because he has such a cool persona online. After finally getting to know him IRL, I quickly realized that he is totally the same person offline as he is online- down to earth, hard working, hilarious, and I am all in with my support for his campaign to become mayor. #SeanForMayor
Please enjoy his Woodshop Playlist while you read his interview.
This is Nickel City Gritty, and this is Sean Wrafter.
Tell me a little bit about how you got started in your business.
I started my business about four years ago. I was a Regional Marketing Manager for City Dining Cards and I worked out of town in Philadelphia and I would come home on Fridays and build furniture in my basement until Sunday afternoon. Then I would go back to Philadelphia for the week. I built some furniture for my house and then I built some furniture for some friends and then I couldn't believe how many orders I had coming in, so I took a leap of faith and left my job, and began the wild world of self-employment! Four years later I have two business partners, a 5,000 square foot wood shop, and a 2,000 square foot store front. Pretty wild.
Describe your personal style.
Okay, so I have fashion icons. Al Borland, number one, the OG. No, but really, I like American work wear. Quality made stuff. Stuff made in the USA. A lot of Carhartt & Levi's. I like clothes that fit me. I like things that are classic, like Woolrich, Redwing. But no, seriously, Al Borland. He's a rockstar. Al Borland / Rambo First Blood
If you had a warning label attached to you, what would it say?
Adult Content. *laughs*
If you were cryogenically frozen for 100 years, what would be the first question you would ask when you woke up?
What year is it, right? Where am I? Ummmm...who's president? What do we eat now? Is there still food? Are there flying cars yet? I mean, listen. National Geographic and Time Magazine have been telling me that the flying car has been coming next year since the late 80's. I still haven't seen one. I don't know what that bullshit is.
Who or where would you haunt if you were a ghost?
Oh, I would haunt my wife. *laughs* Until the day that she died, I would fuck with her so bad. Am I allowed to swear?
Yeah, of course, go ahead.
I would spend the rest of my life annoying the shit out of my wife. The rest of her life. And I would make sure she knew it was me. Absolutely, that's part of it.
What is something that tons of people are obsessed with, but you don't get the point of?
Oh man. I'll tell you what. As strange as this sounds, for someone that owns a product-based business, I'm not really that much of a consumer. I don't really buy stuff. Unless I really need it to wear, or like a tool or something. Oh, and football. Or sports. I've never been much of a sports guy. I grew up in the country, so as soon as I turned 14, every Sunday I was in the woods with a gun. And plus, I think, I don't understand guys that idolize other guys that play with a ball. It's real goofy to me. I always say the word "genius" gets thrown around really fucking loosely. You know, like I'm not a genius, your bartender isn't a genius. Albert Einsten was a genius. John Milton was a genius. Leonardo da Vinci...genius. Ummm...Kanye West? Not a genius. I mean, I like Kanye, don't get me wrong. He's a great musician. But not a genius. I like that he's a dickhead.
What is the one accomplishment you're most proud of?
You know, if I had to say that I was really proud about one thing, it's that I have become very resilient in my life. I've suffered a lot of failure. My whole adult life I've consistently failed at many things that I've tried, but I keep moving forward and through that failure comes success. I feel like most people would have given up a long time ago. I'm very proud of that. The hardest conversation I ever have with myself is when it's six o'clock at night and I'm exhausted and I want to go home, but I have three more hours of work to do in my 90 degree F woodshop, and I'm sitting in the parking lot arguing with myself. But I get my ass out of the car and get back in there and get my work done that I need to get done.
What is your spirit animal?
I really like red-tailed hawks. I don't know, I see them everywhere that I go. I think that they're just really cool and interesting creatures.
"I wish steve jobs was alive so I could punch him"
What is currently on your playlist?
Action Bronson. He's a rapper from Queens. He's also a chef, he's worked in kitchens his whole life and he has a cooking and food travel show on Vice. It's called "That's Fucking Delicious." You should watch it. He's so gross, but he's really funny and he knows food really well. I've been listening to a lot of that. I'm a big Beatles fan. I've been getting back into The Beatles a lot lately. I like to listen to music that I can kind of turn off my brain to. A lot of folksy rock music...it just feels good for the summer. When I drive I listen to some hip hop. Honestly, more than anything, I'm a 20-year Howard Stern fan. I listen to him a lot. To the point where my wife is like, "Please listen to something else!" I have a really hard time with podcasts. I like them, but when I put a podcast on, I'll find myself zoning out for ten minutes, and then I don't know what they fuck they are talking about. I don't know about you, but ever since we got iPhones, I have NO attention span. I was an English Lit major, I used to read three books a week. I can't tell you the last time I could actually finish a book, because I'll get maybe three pages deep, and I'll find myself scrolling through Instagram. It's terrible, I know. I wish Steve Jobs was alive so I could punch him. *starts laughing* That's going to be the main quote that you use for this.
What is your favorite band of all time?
Probably a tie between The Beatles and Wu Tang Clan. They're both prolific, tons of side projects, the music holds up, it's great.
How different was your life one year ago?
Here's the thing. Our parent's generation, got married when they were 18, found jobs at a newspaper that they kept for 25 years, bought a house, had a couple kids, and didn't change or evolve or grow at all, right? Because of the way our society is, we are constantly growing and constantly changing and evolving. The person that any of us was a year ago is not the person that we are today, because they can't be. So, am I a lot different today than I was a year ago? I would say so. We're all constantly changing...that's what I think. I can't believe some of the things that I've seen and done that my parents have never or will never know. It's even hard for me to describe sometimes, these things that we experience. Like they can't even get their head around it. I tell my mom some of this stuff and she doesn't even know what to say.
What is the scariest monster you could imagine?
Oh man. I think he just got elected president.
Do you have any hidden talents?
You know what? I'm like kind of an attention seeker, so if I was really good at something, I would show everybody. I don't really have anything to hide. I've been killin it with my fidget spinner lately. I was having a bad day and I was at the dollar store and picked one up there. So where my shop is, there's really nothing around. It's in a warehouse district on the East Side and they built a Family Dollar across the street, so I go in there to get cold drinks and fidget spinners.
What are your favorite and your least favorite words?
My favorite word....has gotta be fuck. It just is. I say it a LOT. And my least favorite word is no.
What is your favorite bar or restaurant in Buffalo?
It's super cliche to say the Pink, but I end up there a lot. I really appreciate all of Buffalo's growth, all of the new Buffalo stuff has been incredibly great for the city and incredibly good for my business as I work with it, but I like a dive bar, dude. I go to like Casey's Tavern on Amherst Street, we have a blast there. I really like to go to Marble & Rye, but then I'm gonna go to Eddie Brady's. I just like real people.
If you could be reincarnated as an ice cream flavor, what would you be?
Oh man. You know there's a lot of wild ice cream flavors right now. How about Whisky and Sawdust.
That is a good one! Nobody would eat it.
I would. It's got tons of roughage.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your teenage self?
Oh man, where do I even start? At 36 years old, if I could go back in time and re-inhabit my body, I would be so good in high school. I would be popular, my teachers would like me, I would do way better in my classes, I would probably have a girlfriend...none of this happened in real life...16 year old you thinks you know everything, and then 25 year old you looks back and realizes that you didn't know shit and now you know everything, and then 35 year old you looks back and it's just a cycle.
Okay, and my very last question that I always ask is what do you want to be when you grow up?
I've been thinking about that a lot lately. Wrafterbuilt was always meant to be a five year in and out and I'm at year four. I've been thinking what am I going to do next. Am I going to keep doing this? It really isn't even the same thing that I started. Success is a very personal metric, and the more time I spend working all the time, the more I think I would really like to be a bartender at a resort in Central America and learn to surf and do yoga. Probably do something with sage or whatever the fuck they do. I could also see myself relocating to the West Coast or a different country for a while. My father is from Ireland, so I have dual citizenship and I could work anywhere in the EU. So I even thought about relocating to Ireland and meet my cousins and work there. On my 40th birthday I want to sell off all my assets and move to Chicago to join Second City and become a comedic actor. I think I'd be okay at it, right? I love comedy and I think I'm pretty funny sometimes. So 40 year old Sean will be on stage with a bunch of 20 year olds learning how to do improv.