Offshoot of nonprofit Challenge Program offers standardized but distinctive pieces, appealing to more residential and commercial clients
Trainees of the Challenge Program—a Wilmington-based nonprofit that provides construction and life-skills training for Delaware’s at-risk youth—are known for creating custom pieces for area establishments. Think honeygrow, the bar tops at all Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen locations, other local restaurants and some Philadelphia companies.
Now, helmed by founder and Executive Director Andrew McKnight, the organization is entering a new phase with an offshoot program called CP Furniture. Distinctive, handcrafted pieces are being standardized and incorporated into this new furniture line, opening the door for residential and commercial clients—and more clients in general—verses the custom piece approach.
“We decided that with a line of furniture, focusing more on manufacturing and less on custom work, we could better utilize our workforce and increase margins and profits,” says McKnight, who explains that all profits will go directly back into the Challenge Program.
By standardizing design, CP Furniture can bring in graduates of the six-month Challenge Program and offer them fulltime positions with benefits. McKnight describes a CP Furniture position as a transition job from the Challenge Program into entry level outside employment.
McKnight says the CP Furniture pieces are premium quality, so customers can expect a higher price point (Prices were not available at O&A press time). Depending on the piece, the furniture is made with custom fabric, hand-tied springs—all handmade and of the best quality, he says.
Right now, he’s focusing on the Mid-Atlantic region, but in the future, national orders aren’t out of the question. Visit cpfurniture.org to see options like sit-stand desks for the office or at home, tables, seating—like the contemporary Lillian Chair available in walnut, cherry, oak, birch and maple—entertainment consoles, side tables and more.
“I hope we do better than break-even,” says McKnight. “I hope we become a thing. We’re manufacturing furniture, employing significantly more grads. We want to create a buzz around it and market it and make money to put back into program.”