I am proud to carry the handmade wood works of Jenell and Matt in my shop! They create a variety of fine wooden products by hand including:
- Hand-cut wooden puzzles
- Wood intarsia art pieces
- Wooden toys
- Wooden ornaments
- Wooden bowls
- Hand-turned wooden pens
I recently had the opportunity to learn more about their process and their hopes for the future. Check out the full interview with Matt below!
How did you come up with the idea for J and M?
My Grandfather did a lot of woodworking and antique refinishing while I was growing up and I spent a lot of time in the shop watching him. When he had to move into a smaller place, and couldn't take his tools with him, I inherited a bunch of them. So, we started to play around with some of the things that he used to make. I mostly remember his talent for creating Intarsia. So, that is what we started with.
We then kept finding cool ideas and projects that we wanted to try. This went the way that most new hobbies start.... YouTube... I (Matt) found a few videos of woodturning and was intrigued. It happened to be almost Christmas so with a gift card and a little self-gifting :) we got a lathe and got started. Pens were the first product we made on the lathe... After a while, we had so many things we had made that we needed some way to make space (and money) to be able to continue creating. The business followed.
Selling kids puzzles and toys happened pretty much by accident. We had been doing some craft fairs and were not having much luck selling. Jenell found a scroll saw magazine with patterns for construction vehicle puzzles. Just for fun, she made one of each. At our next craft fair, we sold every one almost immediately. So... we made more and more. By far, still our best seller.
The puzzles not only sold well, but also have proven to be a lot of fun to make. Jenell has always been one for puzzles, and now not only cuts kids' puzzles but intricate and challenging jigsaw puzzles as well.
How long have you been creating wood pieces?
About 4 years at this point. Although, what we have been creating has changed multiple times. We have tried everything from the kids' toys and puzzles to tables, wine racks, pens, kitchen accessories, intarsia, knife handles and a bunch of others. I am also getting into metal work as well. I started with buying pre-made knife blades and putting handles on them. Then I wanted to try to make the blades too. To get to that point, I needed to learn how to forge metal. So I have been working on that for about a year. Although, it is on hold during the summer.... standing next to a gas forge that can heat metal to almost 2000 degrees is NOT a summer activity for me.
Who does which part of the business/projects?
Jenell makes the puzzles, toys, pretty much anything that is done with the scroll saw. She also does Etsy and computer tasks. I do most of the bigger projects, or projects that need more of a design/build aspect to them. I also do the wood turning. I help Jenell with some of the prep tasks of some of her projects, like cutting wood to rough sizes with the bigger saws or tools she is not as comfortable with.
Hands down, my biggest task is helping her out when she bites off more than she can chew with a project :) “Ohh, this will be fun/easy!”... turns out to be harder than it looks... Matt...HELP!" Wait... maybe my biggest task is telling Jenell that she can not keep every item we make.... :)
What do you enjoy most about creating?
The escape from everything else. And seeing the reactions when we make something special for someone. It's refreshing to do something hands-on that also involves a lot of thought - it’s a perfect balance of mental and physical energy.
Do you aspire to J and M as a full-time career(s)?
If there was a way to make it so we could do this full time and still pay the bills/be able to reinvest.... absolutely!!! I think we have a long way to go before we get to that point, but we are optimistic!
What obstacles do you find as a micro business?
Knowing what to do in terms of the "Business" side of things. How to do marketing/social media, what products to make and what to not bother with, figuring out what will sell and how to sell it, finding the right market for our products, Pricing!!!!!!!!!! It’s a very fine line between selling items that are priced to sell, and selling them at a high enough price to account for the materials AND labor involved.
Also, when starting out, you don't really know what you need and what you don't... what will work and what might not... if we could do it over again, we would buy entirely different tools.
What do you want people to know most about J and M?
JENELL makes most of our products that are at the craft fairs and in the store. People assume that because I am the guy, I do the work and she is just there to sell stuff... She deserves all of the credit. And people need to stop assuming that because she is a she... she doesn't cut.