Everyone knows the routine they went through as a senior in high school: college or job applications, senior pictures, last homecoming football game, senior prom, and, of course, starting your own business. Well maybe not everyone has that last one on their senior year "to-do" list, but Hunter Stanke, owner of Good Earth Furniture Company in Sturgis, does.
Opening his handmade furniture company in the summer of 2015 just before his senior year at Sturgis High School, Hunter knew it wasn't going to be easy.
Despite the challenge, Hunter opened Good Earth Furniture Company, whose current products include handmade wood beds and end tables. These products are supplemented with smaller woodworking crafts including items like coffee mug trees and coasters, made from wood scraps from his production process.
According to Hunter, he has "...always kind of had that entrepreneurial spirit." While he may not have been a "lemonade-stand kid" as he would put it, he was always interested in woodworking and sold smaller crafts since he was "really young." Hunter opened his new business by expanding on skills learned from helping build his family's log home.
When taking the risk, a big part of what he wanted to do was give back to the community. "I wanted to do something with the business. From the start, I wanted to be able to set down a business plan that would give back to the community and world.” Good Earth Furniture Company gives back with each of its sales. Every customer gets a $55 gift card to the World Wildlife Fund when purchasing a bed, allowing them to sponsor an endangered species of their choosing. In addition, for each bed sold, Good Earth Furniture Company plants 25 trees helping give back the materials they use to make their business possible.
Hunter works on the business out of his family's home, selling at trade shows and marketing through word of mouth and social media. While he plans to continue the business after high school, that doesn't mean it will be all he is doing. Hunter plans on attending Michigan State University in the fall to major in forestry, fisheries, and wildlife and open up a new market for his business. "Hopefully Lansing will be a good marketing area for me," says Hunter, "but I'd like to stay in Sturgis."