When we first started I used to head up to a big box hardware store and buy five or six boards of pine. Each time I would head over to the contractor section and basically give each piece a physical. I’d check each little inch of the boards and I’d try to find the five best out of the stack of 100 or so boards. I’m sure the people that worked their thought I was a bit crazy doing such an examination over $3.80 boards. The thing was when we started we didn’t have much money and I was about to waste it on inferior lumber.
Then I started buying them 10 at a time and looked at them mainly for straightness, then it was 20 and I just glanced to make sure they weren’t completely crooked. Now we’re buying boards by the 100+ as beer caddies have really taken off. I get those sight unseen and have the orders delivered right to the shop. From my last order of 100 boards the picture below shows the boards that are crap. It ended up being close to 48 boards that weren’t 100% usable. Now I’m not one to waste anything so the trees that were cut to make these boards didn’t die in vain, but it’s still frustrating.
I know I didn’t pay for top choice lumber but shooting 50% isn’t good. What I thought was a time saver ended up being more trouble than it is worth. It’s just a reminder that when it comes to wood the best thing to do is inspect it even if it just cheap pine. So if you see me at the big box store or lumber yard going through a stack of wood please don’t judge me, just give a causal head nod.
Growing up my favorite show was Junkyard Wars. My Dad and I would watch each episode and pick a team that we thought would win. If you’re unfamiliar it was a show where two teams squared off in a challenge to build something (hovercraft, pumpkin catapult, drag racer, etc) out of nothing but the stuff in a junkyard. Now I wasn’t really the most mechanically inclined kid growing up so it kind of always seemed like a pipe dream to compete in such a competition. That was until I was on Twitter and saw a post on such a competition going on and even better only a few miles from my house.
Of course my mechanical skill set has now improved and I’ve been fortunate to surround myself with people who are smarter than I’ll ever be in these fields. So I figured this is the perfect time to check off Junkyard Wars off my bucket list. The fine people at the Dayton Mini Maker Faire were kind enough to accept the group of shop class rejects that I have formed to compete. The kick off event takes place this Saturday, July 8th at the Protobar in Dayton (such a cool place). Check out the link below to learn more about the event and I’ll try to post more information on this event as it comes out.
Click on the link for more information Boneyard Build Off
Well it has been two years since we became an official business. That’s a pretty big accomplishment because when we started we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. Honestly we didn’t have a plan at all, our business plan literally was to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks. We bought a laser with a marketing plan of telling people we had one and then ask them to tell us what they want made. It was pretty primitive marketing research, but so far it has lead us down the right path. Most of the first things we listed on our Etsy page are already in the graveyard of inactive products because they either are too time consuming to make or no one ever bought them. We’re still finding our way, but it’s slowly becoming easier. We just wanted to offer our gratitude to our friends, family, and customers for all their support and encouragement. This is something that we love and it’s only getting better!
Normally we just scroll through any email sent to us from Etsy on how to “promote our store.” It’s not that Etsy doesn’t provide great services for sellers, but the rat race of marketing isn’t really our thing right now. Our photos are rough, our social media presence is pitiful, and we’ve been struggling to put together a 45 second Youtube video of how to install some of our products. This is just real talk, we’re a husband and wife who work as hard as we can to keep up with orders, raise our daughter, spend time with friends and family, and get enough sleep to function. That being said when we see tips on marketing we just kind of laugh. However, there was one article that Etsy sent us that is really exciting. They are announcing Guest Check Out! This is a big deal because now everyone can buy our items from our Etsy store. So many times people ask if they can buy from our website and we say you can use Etsy or Amazon and their faces sink. We can tell that either don’t know what that is or they don’t have/want accounts with those sites. Each time that happens we mull getting an actual website with an online store, but it’s just not on our radar. Now we can tell people they can purchase as a guest off Etsy and it changes the game. Check out (no pun) the link below and read more about it!
Etsy Set to Introduce Guest Check Out
We were approached by the find folks who are organizing the Lebanon Brew Haha back in 2016 about possibly being a vendor at their 2017 event. They had never had craft vendors in the past, but wanted to give it a try for their next event. We’re always willing to give new things a try so we quickly said yes. We’re really looking forward to seeing being able to interact with some fellow beer/wine enthusiasts, listening some good music, eating some good food, and maybe sneaking away and sampling a few new brews. We’ll have a wide selection of bottle cap holders (including some new releases), beer caddies, bottle cap openers, and some signs.
We know we’re not the big draw for the event but still we want this event to be very well attended because in the end it’s about raising money for the arts. Buy your ticket ahead of time and save some money.
I had a friend who was interested in starting up a similar business ask me how we have gotten Little Fox Engraving to grow so quickly. My answer was simple, we never say no to custom requests. If one person wants something made bad enough to request it being made more than likely there is market for it. One of the trends we’re seeing is people asking us to put quotes or sayings on barnwood. Which is awesome because we love seeing old wood given new life. The picture below is one of our latest of these projects, it will be going into a baby’s nursery. If you have a saying or idea please shoot by us, we have a garage full of barnwood and our laser can cut any word in any font.
We mainly focus on the amazing craft beer boom that’s going on across the country, but there is also a pretty neat movement going on in the soda industry. Just like the brewers across the country there are small soda companies out there that are experimenting with flavors, natural ingredients, and old recipes. Our friends at Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop (www.grandpajoescandyshop.com) recently asked us to make them a bottle cap holder for their store. Their candy shop has a Willy Wonka theme so we did it in the Wonka font and it turned out great. This was a real fun project because I’ll admit I’ve become a bit of a soda fiend lately. There are often times where I want a refreshing beverage, but still have work to do with power tools for the evening, so now I keep some soda to go along with our normal stock of beer. It’s nice to have a local place to pick up drinks like Dang Soda, Cheerwine, Kickapoo, and many more (like over 100). We’re looking to do more with Grandpa Joe’s in the future! If you have a custom idea please let us know, we’d love to help bring it to life.
If you’re not the kind of person who just brings six beers to a party we now offer a fine wooden beverage holder that carries up to 15 bottles of beer. We started making these for our friends at Buckeye Craft Beer at their request. Usually we keep custom requests private, but we liked the crate so much we asked them if we could sell them on our site as well. We can put any company logo, home brew logo, or any type of text on these crates. They make a great gift for anyone who needs beer storage. Check them out on our Etsy Site.
It’s really no secret that we have a passion for customization. If it isn’t good enough that we can add personalized laser engravings on any of our items but then we were also offering 24 stain colors for our wood products. Well after a year and half in business we’ve been able to differentiate between the popular colors and the ones that haven’t sold at all. So this past week we sat down and figured out our most popular 16 stain colors.
The four most popular colors are on the top and then the rest of the colors are below. The hardest part wasn’t picking the colors it was replacing the picture and the drop down selections on Etsy and Amazon to reflect the changes.
The top stains for each item are listed below for reference.
Bottle Cap Holders – English Chestnut, Dark Walnut, Maple, & Red Mahogany
Beer Caddies – Ebony, English Chestnut, Red Mahogany, & Dark Walnut
Wine Boxes – Whitewash, Burgundy, Driftwood, Red Mahogany, & Honey
Hopefully this gives you a little guidance on picking a color for our products. If you ever have any questions please feel free to contact us at Littlefoxengraving@gmail.com.
We were sitting in a quiet moment on Christmas and realized that hundreds of people opened items we made. It is quite humbling to think that people like our stuff enough to give it as a present to someone in their life. It’s pretty awesome and we want to thank all our customers, friends, and family. We hope everyone’s Holiday Season is safe, happy, and healthy. As we look forward we’re planning on 2017 to bring us new product designs, better photographs of products, an updated website, and hopefully a new facility. All of these things seemed like a pipe dream, but now we’re dead set on making it a reality. Keep following and watch as two determined people continue their journey into the business world.
Joy and Peace,
Little Fox Engraving