Picture all of the empty bottles of wine and liquor you throw out each year. Now, imagine those same bottles transformed into beautiful jewelry or decorations for your home. For entrepreneur Steve Cherry, this image was what lead him to start Bottles & Wood, an upcycle business he started when the stock market fell and the local landfill was projected to reach capacity. Cherry had the business idea to upcycle unwanted glass and wood materials into beautiful products. The result was Bottles & Wood.
In the spring of 2014, Cherry found a partner, Zelda Waxenberg, a well known San Diego philanthropist. Together they moved the business operation to Clairemont Mesa and continued the mission to upcycle unwanted wood and glass. Today the pair continue to use locally sourced wine barrels, pallets and old fence boards, as well as bottles from popular wineries, breweries and liquor distilleries, to create unique eco-friendly products.
Q: Describe your perfect day in San Diego.
A: Little Italy farmers market on Saturday morning for coffee, sailing all afternoon, and wrapping up the day with a long swim with the dogs in Del Mar.
Q: Misconception that people have about repurposed products?
A: There’s a big misconception that repurposed is in any way less expensive than new. We build all kinds of products from all kinds of waste streams from cork and wood to steel and glass. It’s far more expensive to acquire, store and fabricate using reclaimed materials.
Another misconception is that we get our glass for free. We don’t. In fact, we pay for all the glass that is delivered in a relationships with recyclers and hotel properties to recover their glass waste for free and give them a “purchase credit” for what was in their glass recycling bins. They in turn purchase some of their product back for use or resale. Marriott Gaslamp and Paradise Point both participate in these programs. It’s called the Circular Economy. It works, it’s sustainable, and it’s what we do.
Q: If you could be a superhero who would it be and why?
A: Superman! Duh.
Q: Favorite quote or motto you try to live by?
A: Enjoy the journey.
Q: CEO or company you admire and why?
A: Rose Marcario of Patagonia - they define a new age business model of creating huge success by operating with complete transparency, the highest degree of social responsibility, delivering world class product, creating a truly amazing brand.
Q: Best part about doing business in San Diego?
A: San Diego is a near limitless opportunity for Bottles & Wood as we ride the wave of craft beer, wine and farm-to-table market activity. Right after you make food or a beverage you need to present, display and serve it. That’s where we come in. San Diego is a hot bed of new and emerging Top Chef talents, we love to serve.
Q: Favorite product of yours and why?
A: It’s our 9-candle candelabra made of a 32-inch-wide French Oak wine barrel stave, nine necks off 1-liter Patron Tequila bottles, trimmed in steel from the barrel on each end of the stave. I favor designs combining multiple elements of reclaimed materials in this case wood, steel and glass. The candelabra set the stage for a series of products done for home décor retailer TJX Companies where we launched our remadeincalifornia.com brand with a few simple designs of candelabras. It’s been hugely successful!