Based in the quaint, historic small South Carolina town Saint Stephen, entrepreneur and bladesmith Quintin Middleton is building a business that has taken the culinary world by surprise.
Middleton, who started crafting knives in 2003, launched Middleton Made Knives in 2009. “I was working as a industrial mechanic even though I was making really good money. I hated the job! I got up every morning dreading going to work. While I was at work, I was drawing knives in my notebook on my lunch break,” says Middleton, who has found his passion crafting high-quality knives.
These are handcrafted, custom-made knives. Made with high carbon steel, they are a chef’s dream. From a 10” Damascus Chef Knife and steak knife sets to the Brew Shucker for shucking oysters and a Mini Huntsman, Middleton Made Knives are known for their perfection. Besides being available online, they are also sold at a few area stores. “A lot of people asked me what makes my knives stand out. Number one is the design; also, they hold up longer than a lot of other manufactured knives. But the main thing that makes my knives stand out is my own personality. What I mean by that is when I am selling the knives and people hear about my story and how I got started, they are drawn to them and they want to support what I’m doing,” he said.
Middleton has long had a thing for knife crafting. “My passion started when I was young. I watched movies and was inspired by them and then when I was older, I ran into Jason Knight (a Master Bladesmith from Charleston, South Carolina). He is my mentor and I was his student for six years,” says Middleton. “The thing I like best about what I’m doing is being able to create a product, and have people tell me they love it. Hearing their praises and also criticisms makes me want to do better.”
His knives are making a major name for themselves in culinary circles. “My biggest surprise in my business is that celebrity chefs already know who I am and they are in love with my product,” says Middleton. Still, even with the recognition, like many other small businesses, Middleton has some challenges. “My main challenge in my business is getting to the next level! Everyone tells you you need to get to the next level but no one tells you “how” to get to the next level,” he shares.
Looking ahead, Middleton wants to expand. He says, “My goal for 2018 is to start to employ people from my community to help me build my knives and while I’m doing that, hopefully, my brand will grow.”
As he’s building his business, he will rely on the lessons learned and advice he’s received. “The best business advice that has been given to me is to believe in yourself because a lot of times people will believe in you until you succeed. So if you want to make this a successful business, believe in yourself and trust Jesus,” concludes Middleton.