How do you innovate in such a traditional space?
It can be difficult because this industry has an enormous amount of gate-keeping. Sometimes I’m trusted because I’m with my tall, white male business partner. And there are times when his creativity and passion are trusted because a woman is making the decisions, and they trust me to care about the same things they care about.
The true innovation we have achieved, though, has been holding on to how and why we are in business: trying to change the industry, not killing ourselves in the process of making a living, actively fighting against the overworked grind culture while barely making ends meet. The only way I have succeeded in innovating in these traditional spaces is from within and on an interpersonal level.
Our skills and knowledge get us through the door. Then, where we can, we try to educate, advocate, and change peoples’ minds by being our authentic selves and talking about the things we are passionate about.
Is it a challenge to embrace new technologies?
We are unique in that we use a lot of technology. Most folks are either hand tool woodworkers or CNC (computer numerical control) machinery folks. We do both.
We use the CNC to help expedite pattern-making and material yield when needed. We are both trained in hand drafting and hand tooling, but we use AutoCAD and computers as needed because they are tools. I think there’s this idea that it hurts your reputation to use computers, but I promise we are still spending hours and days hand tooling, covered in wood shavings, and sharpening our chisels.