Client Highlight - Mike and Billy of DIAKADI, SF.
Updated: Mar 13
I get asked all the time “How do you find clients?”
As almost 100% of my work comes from word of mouth, it is often a unique story.
I recently completed and installed a fireplace mantle and entertainment console for a pair of clients who I have been working with since 2016. I’m really proud of this piece and think it turned out amazing. There are pics below if you want to jump down and cheat now, but I will share more about it as the story unfolds. It is the first large client work I’ve done since the show last year, and as I was being asked about how it came to be, I realized how interesting this story was and wanted to share it with you because it is the type of relationship that I strive for with all of my clients and hope anyone working with an artist is looking to cultivate as well.
I met Billy and Mike in 2016 when I came in to do some woodwork at their nationally ranked gym Diakadi. They were expanding into an entire new floor of their building in San Francisco and I had been referred to by the amazing Gina Rachelle Design (how she and I met is another whole story, but for now check her out!), an incredible interior designer whom I had worked with for some years.
Though I was there for woodwork, it turned out that the metal workers who were creating other elements of their buildout did not have the finish work expertise required for the standard that Billy and Mike are known for. So they asked me if I could do it and I said yes. From there began a series of projects over the next two years upon which every time I completed a project, they handed me the check and said “We have another project for you.”
So I started with their new front desk. They then asked me to create a standing bar for their lounge area (pictured above) and gave me total creative freedom. When I showed them my design, it was clear that our aesthetic was fully aligned and it was game on. This lead to a security door made from old bleacher seats, some fixes of equipment, some functional racks, some small benches, an upgrade to another security door, and finally (though I probably missed a few things) a wall sculpture that they wanted laser cut to complete the new downstairs look and feel. (to see the whole visual story check out my Instagram).
In their words… “ About the look of Diakadi and how my designs fit in “
Aside from being incredibly successful entrepreneurs with an impressive, welcoming and designer gym (Named 14 years in a row as the Best Personal Trainers and Best Gym in SF by more than 10 top publications), Billy and Mike are two of the nicest and most genuine people I have ever met. And definitely some of the best clients I have ever had.
There were plenty of problems that came up during a span of that many projects. Plenty of times where something didn’t go quite right, or an estimate was off, a few things that got scratched or dinged or needed another adjustment once they were installed. But I barely even remember those times because these two were always willing to talk it out and come up with a solution together with me.
And as the projects at Diakadi started to come to an end, they let me know that they were remodeling their house and would love for me to do some work for them there.
I jump on any project I am lucky enough to work with them and the first one that came together was a kitchen island and dog station (or should I say German Shepherd station. They are constantly working with and rehabilitating German Shepherd rescues. There was a new one or two there every time I would visit for these projects).
“Quote from Billy/Mike about their kitchen Island - “
They had a lot of work getting done on their place and so once this functional piece was installed, it was about a year later that we began on the next project. The fireplace mantle that I am so hyped on.
It began with a drawing. And a few inspiration photos.
Then dimensions and creating the sketchup model (above).
We iterated on the design and decided on this one and then the work began.
I won’t go into the nitty gritty of all the challenges that this represented but I shared my design with my amazing and talented woodworker Greg Laird, we worked out the details and he created the cabinet.
I was working on the metal and integration with the wood with the last hours of my mentorship with my apprentice Rocky (another story on him later). We completed fabrication and installation at the start of 2020.
“Billy and mike quote about this piece and working with Brian through this process.”
I wish every client relationship was like this. To be trusted with my own designs, to work together to create something that we are both inspired by, and to have built an actual friendship through this work is one of the parts of my job that I absolutely love.
Thank you guys so much.
I look forward to the next one with you and our continued friendship through the years to come!
And seriously, Diakadi. To me it is part art gallery/spa and part gym and awesome community. Check them out when you're in the city next!