Middleton Made Knives owner Quintin Middleton needed his wife Kendra when he was fired from an industrial mechanical job in 2012. Kendra stood by his side as she does today, a crucial player in the Saint Stephen-based company delivering handcrafted kitchen cutlery to chefs and home cooks all over the country.
“If it wasn’t for her sacrifice in the beginning or belief in me from the start, I wouldn’t be here now,” Quintin said. “At the time, I didn’t know if it was going to be a sustainable career — it was a leap of faith, really, and my wife gave me the OK to chase that dream.”
Quintin and Kendra met in high school in band class — he played the trombone, she played the clarinet. According to Quintin, they became close after Kendra was involved in a car accident, and they eventually started a relationship after high school. In 2007, the couple were married in Quintin’s hometown of Alvin, South Carolina, at Bethlehem Baptist Church. This Valentine’s Day marks the 18th they’ve shared together as a couple.
When he was fired from his job in 2012, Quintin attempted to make ends meet doing maintenance for the city of Saint Stephen, until Kendra told him to stay at home and focus on making knives while she went back to work.
“It was 2012; I had already started Middleton Made Knives, but more as a side hobby,” Quintin said. “To have me work just to put my children in daycare, that didn’t make sense to me. It was a helpless moment. She came home one day, and she said, ‘I got your back, Quintin, you try to do this knife thing full time, and I’ll support you every step of the way.’”
Nearly a decade later, Middleton is a renowned bladesmith whose handcrafted knives have earned him praise from chefs like Sean Brock and Emeril Lagasse. He’s hired three employees to assist him in his 1,000-square-foot facility, recently launched a more affordable knife series catered to line cooks and hopes to expand production soon. But, none of it would be possible without Kendra, Quintin said.
“Kendra makes sure I’m on track with all of the orders and when they need to be shipped,” he said. “For the events, she handles all of the transactions and makes sure the event runs smoothly. I’m the maker, and she’s the one who makes sure I’m on task —I couldn’t do it without her.”