How Shanayla Sweat left Microsoft to create watches from wood inspired by her grandfather

Shanayla Sweat is making waves in the watch-making industry with her brand, A Few Wood Men, a black-owned wooden watch collection designed exclusively for men and women of distinction.

Sweat left her job at Microsoft with a vision to build her own designer brand in a bid to redefine the watch-making industry.

“As an African American woman, I realized the significance of positive representation and the need to create a space that celebrates men’s empowerment,” Sweat said, according to Black News. “A Few Wood Men is a tribute to the strong, distinguished men in our lives who shape communities and inspire change,” she added.

Revealing her story to Voyage ATL, the entrepreneur explained that A Few Wood Men, which she launched in 2017, was an unplanned idea that sprang from her search for the perfect gift for her grandfather, a well-known fashionista and watch collector.

Sweat said that she observed most of his watches were damaged, too heavy for his wrists, or out of style. On her hunt, she came across several wooden watches and fell in love with them right away.

“At the time, I didn’t know that they even existed, but I loved the look and liked how they were light-weight. He loved the watch, and what started out as a gift for him turned into friends and family asking where they could get one too. This simple watch search turned into me researching other opportunities, which later evolved into A Few Wood Men.”

According to her website, her brand was created as a “sounding board for black men who are striving to break down barriers, break curses, push boundaries, overcome strongholds, discover strength, come into self-love, and maintain peace while becoming fathers, husbands, leaders, commanders, and pillars within their community.”

Sweat’s brand has earned the recognition of big-name companies like Essence, GQ, Melanin, Huami, and Kontrol, among others.

Wooden watches have been grabbing the attention of eco-conscious consumers in recent times. According to Time Business News, current estimates place the market value at $2.72 billion. Sweat had said in 2019 that in the next 5-10 years, she “can see the industry becoming more socially conscious and aware of natural resources that could be used to create watches.”

Dollita Okine

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