There are so many Pace alumni working in the real world to form their own businesses and expand on their own creative ideas, so I wanted to cover more. Pace showcases both of these small businesses on its website to spread the word about them and promote their work, along with many others.
Richard Haining graduated from Pace in 1997 and now owns Haining Made LLC in Brooklyn, New York. “I graduated from Pace, and like all of my classmates, I went to college the following fall,” said Richard. “I had no idea what I was doing, kind of lost. I dropped out after about 3-4 months. I took a NOLS semester out West, moved to upstate New York.” After spending some time in the kitchen as a sous-chef, Richard considered culinary school but decided against it. “Around this time, I fell back in love with art, which I had shied away from while I was at Pace,” said Richard. “I decided to go back to school, but quickly maxed out their art program, so I decided to transfer to Rhode Island School of Design into the Furniture Design Department. It was here where I met my wife. She is from outside of NYC, so I moved here.” He worked for about 8 years at a set design company in Brooklyn, creating custom sets for Commercials, Fashion Shows, Catalogs, Music Videos, etc. “I loved this job, but there is so much waste created in this industry,” said Richard. “I wanted to create with more of a sense of responsibility for the materials I choose to work with, including where they come from, how they are sourced, as well as the inevitable waste created while making something new. I decided to go out on my own and do exactly that.”
Richard created one-of-a-kind furniture, sculpture and lighting, using thousands of tiny, individually placed scraps of salvaged wood to create the pieces in his STACKED Collection. He creates his STACKED pieces for a mix of private collectors, architects and interior designers. His work can be found throughout the US, Europe and as far away as Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates. A few of his pieces were recently shown at an exposition in South Korea. “Currently, I am working on a handful of projects for clients, including a few tables for clients in the Atlanta area, as well as in Florida, a chandelier for a residence in the Hamptons, as well as a few mirrors for client’s in a handful of states,” said Richard. “In between these projects, I also am working on some new designs that I’m super excited about.”
Eric Silverstein graduated from Pace in 2000 and now owns The Peached Tortilla in Austin, Texas. “Originally, I had an idea to do a fast casual restaurant,” said Silverstein. “It was difficult to fund the project during a recession, so I ended up pivoting to open up a food truck. This was in 2010.” He slowly grew the business, launching a Catering & Events Department in 2012, then opening the first brick and mortar location in 2014. “We have since opened a venue space (Peached Social House), another full service, bar focused restaurant (Bar Peached) and a quick service airport unit inside Austin Bergstrom International Airport, said Silverstein. “We are close to lease on another space for Bar Peached that would open Q1/Q2 2023. We are in the process of securing capital to grow at a rate of 2-3 units annually.”
Eric shared how Pace really contributed to his business success. “I made a lot of great friends at Pace,” said Eric. “Some of them invested in my business back in 2010. Others are also in the industry and are sounding boards. Rob Birdsong, for instance, graduated my year, and we reconnected. He owns Glide Pizza and we chat every few weeks.” He also shared, “My education at Pace was really strong. I think it helped me a lot with my written and communication skills. I also played soccer and lacrosse at Pace, and that sense of teamwork, discipline and camaraderie helped, as well.”
Both had a lot of advice for the current generation of Pace students. “Get your hands dirty and widen your lens,” said Richard. “There is always a solution to every problem, you may need to approach it looking through a different lens, and it may take longer than you want, but for me it has been worth it.” “Pursue your passion,” said Eric. “If you want to be an entrepreneur, it is a very rewarding but bumpy road. Nothing is handed to you, and life is not fair. The pandemic destroyed our business, and we had to rebuild from the ground up.
They are both still learning as they go but enjoy the experience and have already achieved tremendous success. “I am still very much learning how to run a small business,” said Richard. “It’s especially tricky for me, as I fall more in the art world than the fabrication world. And there isn’t any clear cut business plan as to how to make it as an artist: how many pieces I should make, how to get the most eyes on my work in order to sell my work, how to pay taxes. I still stumble. I still have lots of questions. But if it all came easy, if there were never any hiccups, it’d be nothing short of boring.” This is important for students to remember when they face challenges in life, as it is something everyone has to deal with. “I have really been forced to manage people and problem solve,” said Silverstein. “If I had to do things over again, I probably would have paced myself better early on. I was and still am a workaholic.” Take their advice, work hard and problem solve!