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James Kelly (IG: @streettrendz_metal_art)

Welcome to this week's #benchmarkspotlight (formerly the #weldershowcase) - we had the opportunity to sit down with James from @streettrendz_metal_art and talk a little shop.
If you would like to be featured in our weekly spotlight (100% FREE) and have a chance at winning one of our Grinder Hoods please send us an email to to get you scheduled in an upcoming week. These spotlights are intended to highlight your skill, your business, and your tips and tricks.  Most of all it's to have a little fun!
Enjoy and Grind On!


Name:  James Kelly
Business Name:  Streettrendz Metal Art
Location: Stoughton, MA
TikTok: @streettrendz_meta  
Specialties:  Custom Metal work and other things Automotive related.  I take old, used car parts and weld them into 100% unique, original pieces of art. Along with that,  I do automotive work where I keep the parts I remove and  use them in my work. I also can do custom metal work as well.  
Tell us about yourself - what inspired you to get into your trade? And how long?
I got into the automotive industry back in 2003. I went to college for automotive science and specialized in Chrysler/ Dodge. In 2006 I began working as a Subaru Tech. I have always been artistic and I really looked up to Jesse James from Monster Garage. I always loved his metalworking skills and found what he did extremely impressive. In 2015 I started messing around with a welder at work because I wanted to try and build something for my house. Then my dog passed away and I wanted somewhere to put his collar, so I tried to build a dog out of car parts, and that eventually turned into what it is today, where I make anything and everything out of old parts.
  What keeps you motivated throughout the day?
The number one thing is the feeling of accomplishment once I finish a piece, and getting to see people's reaction to the work when I make a piece that they really love. To say money isn't a big part of it would be a lie. Working as a flat rate mechanic, there were some weeks that I made a lot less then other weeks, and sometimes I would almost make nothing at all, so when I have the chance to take on a custom order, I tend to complete it as soon as possible, because that fear of not making any money to pay my bills is always in the back of my head. That, and wanting to provide a great life for my wife and daughter really push me to do as much as I can. On top of that, I really love doing this and even if I wasn’t getting paid I would still be doing it.
What is your favorite shop tool and why?
My favorite shop tool would definitely have to be my Lincoln 140HD welder. It’s the tool that allows me to make all these unique pieces.  I love the feeling of putting everything together with the pull of the trigger on that machine, and without it, none of this would be possible.
  What's your favorite piece that you've worked on?
My favorite piece I have done so far has been my truck. I hand built my 71 International as a company vehicle. I purchased 2 trucks, basically cut them in half , and welded them together. So now I have a classic truck but with the reliability of a modern truck.  It also turns a lot of heads being that it is completely unique. I built it to draw attention to the art work when I go to events and shows. I drive it regularly and really enjoy it.
If you could have any job as it relates to question 1 what would it be and what would you do with that?
I would absolutely still do this.  The welding is so fun, I really enjoy it, and I feel it’s relaxing.  I think I work out a lot of my stress when I weld. I love being able to see my progress from when I first started, to now. 
What BA product is your favorite and why?
Benchmark abrasive flap discs are my favorite.  They are a great quality product and help me grind my metal to exactly where I need it to be which makes my job easier. I like that they allow me to do a quality job, which helps make my work look better in the end. 
What BA product surprised you in terms of quality - what about it set it apart from the competition?
The benchmark abrasive cut off wheels are great quality and allow for easy cutting, with half the effort. I love how easily they cut the metal and that helps make my process of working a lot.  
What tips and tricks do you have for us that might be different or eye opening for others to try with BA product?
I think featuring some of the people who use your product in videos in your social media accounts would really get people's attention. 
If there was one person you could collaborate with - who would it be and why?
Easy, Jesse James. Since getting into the industry almost  20 years ago , he’s someone who I always idolized. I love his work and his attitude about it all. He’s so creative, and the things he can do with Metal is just unreal.  I really love seeing the things he comes up with and I feel like every pro just he gets his hand on is a masterpiece. 
Do you have any advice for the next generation that you wish you had when you first started?
Have patience.  It took me a long time to get where I am today. I spent a lot of long days, sometimes 10 or 12 hrs putting in the work to build my business. Every time I felt a door was closing, another would open. I used to go to every event, take every single job that I could and really overwork myself, because I wanted to get the name out. Now I’m at a point where I’ve gotten the name out there a lot, people know who I am and what I and I have the time to relax and enjoy time with my family and friends, and still have the work coming in. You have to have a good work life/ home balance to be happy. You can’t be working all the time, and you gotta enjoy the benefits of why you do what you do in the first place.  The last 2 years I have been working like crazy, but I always make it a point to set aside some time each week to relax. 
What are your future plans for your shop?
I would like it to continue to grow. In the last 2 years we have gotten bigger than I would have ever imagined. Now we have a legitimate shop. I went from welding after work at the dealership, to a 8x14ft corner outside in my moms car port, to owning an 1800sq ft. shop, with a lot of space to work the way I really needed to. I have a few bays to actually work on cars, and I plan on adding a 2nd lift in the future. A goal of mine is to attend the SEMA art walk in Las Vegas, and I would love to attend one or two major show events this summer. I also plan on building another car, I’m just not sure yet.
Thanks for sitting with us and sharing your story with the community - is there anything you'd like to add?  
Just be sure to like and follow me on my pages Facebook, Instagram, tiktok, Etsy, @streettrendz_metal_art and be sure to message me if there’s anything you want to order.  I can make it all. I also want to say thank you to my amazing wife, without her I couldn't have done any of this. She’s the real backbone of the business and even though she's not actually hands on on the work, she allows me to get done what I need to in order to keep this business going. Thank you very much.


A Note From Leo
Thanks for sharing your story with us, James!  I've been trying to get people to make videos using our products but it's been a bit difficult due to everyone's busy schedule but rest assured, we're working on more video content.
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