INTERVIEW: Soho House New York Entrepreneurship Club spotlights Co-Founders Djivan Schapira & Andrew James

Member Spotlight: Djivan Schapira & Andrew James, Co-Founders of ABDB Designs

Hello all!

You’ve heard it all before: don’t go into business with friends (if you want to keep them) and don’t mix business with pleasure. If you’re not careful, the relationship – and in consequence, the business – can quickly sour. Thankfully, we have accomplished entrepreneurs such as Djivan Schapira and Andrew James to prove that’s not always the case. Not only were they friends before co-founders, but they’re doing what they love, and the result (hand-crafted wooden furniture and designs) sure is pleasing to look at.

DJIVAN SCHAPIRA

  • Current Gig: Co-Founder, CEO, Designer, Maker @ ABDB Designs
  • Current Digs: Union City, New Jersey
  • Hometown: Paris, France

ANDREW JAMES

  • Current Gig: Co-Founder, President of Business Operations @ ABDB Designs
  • Current Digs: New York, NY
  • Hometown: Chicago, IL

Djivan, Andrew,

Tell us a little about ADBD Designs – what do you do?

ABDB Designs is an award-winning, multidisciplinary studio designing & handcrafting innovative high-end furniture and interior accent paneling by way of our patent pending process of embedding cross-cuts of recycled wooden end grain in vibrantly colored resin.

What inspired you to take the jump into startup-land?

Djivan: I kind of had to. After I graduated from architecture school my options to stay in the country were to either to try and get a sponsorship from a company, or start my own. Being that I had just perfected my current crafting process, it was kind of a no brainer.

Andrew: My job in Chicago had gotten fairly stagnant with what I was doing, and at the time there were minimal options in the near future to move up. As someone who takes calculated approaches yet can’t sit still for a while, it seemed like there was no better time. We had also been working long-distance together for two years, and Djivan being all in was a huge motivator for me as well.

How has ABDB evolved since you first started? 

We started as a company just trying to sell unique furniture to people, and have evolved into a full-scale design & manufacturing for interiors company, working with Architects and Designers across a multitude of industries as collaborators, vision augmenters, and conversation starters. 

From partnering on large scale projects, to curating our own pop-ups, to creating our own marketing content..we now have the mindset of disrupting an old industry with a fresh perspective, collaborative attitude, and beautiful one of a kind product offerings.

Render: Kitchen backsplash

What has your experience with ABDB taught you about the entrepreneurial lifestyle?

Djivan: You’re either all in or you’re not. Also, it’s important to be able to zoom out with what’s going on in your day-to-day. Even if things aren’t clicking in the moment, remember the bigger picture. 

Andrew: When you have an idea, go for it. Why not? The worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work out, and then you pivot. But at least you know you tried. Also, don’t be afraid of persistence.

What’s the easiest part of your day?

Djivan: Waking up.

Andrew: Same.

The hardest?

Djivan: Going to sleep.

Andrew: Waiting to hear back from people.

What’s something weird or interesting about you?

Our story is pretty weird & interesting…we met on Jam Cruise (a jam band music festival on a boat traveling through Honduras and Mexico) four years ago, and less than two years later would launch our LLC. Don’t take any relationship or idea for granted.

2019 goal?

Really get our story out to the world, and have one of our upcoming projects featured on a large scale. Getting Djivan on  a campaign for Carhartt is on the list too ;).

How could fellow Entrepreneurship Club members help you out?

We would like to improve in the areas of social media and press, we have this amazing story, and are working hard to get it out to the world.

Is there a skill, service or area of expertise Club members could reach out to you for?

Opinion on interior design, outreach strategy, and networking.

How can someone get in touch with you?

Andrew: andrew@abdbdesigns.com or 847-627-9610

Djivan: studio@abdbdesigns.com or 551-200-2321

Thank you both! Lastly, sharing a few shots of your furniture and designs for our readers…

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