A look at my professional career experiences, prior to woodworking.Read More
BLUF: Save the woe is me for someone who actually needs it. Back in action.
Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.
Depending on how close you follow us here at Rybak Woodworking, you may have noticed that our output has slowed considerably during the second half of 2017. From the inception of Rybak Woodworking in 2015, we have steadily grown in terms of creativity, skill, and the scope of our projects. After completing one of our larger builds earlier this year, focus began to slip away from the shop. A variety of things both personal and business related, mostly personal, hit me at the same time and beat me down.
Health and Wellness
After successfully completing a large build in early 2017 that was both physically and mentally draining I began to let certain priorities slip. I allowed the business to take precedent over everything in my life: personal health and fitness, personal relationships, and spending time with friends and family. Continuing to drive the business forward was all I seemed to care about. Any creative that has seen their ideas grow can tell you how intoxicating it can be, but I got wasted on it.
The constant long days and nights had me skipping out on regular physical fitness and eating mindlessly just to keep going. The lack of exercise and proper diet resulted in a weight gain of roughly 30lbs over the course of about a year and a half. Couple the lack of exercise and poor diet with sleeping less than five hours every night and you can imagine I probably wasn’t the nicest person to be around at times. I’ve always been a big believer in keeping your ‘meat vessel’ healthy, as it’s our #1 tool, but I let mine slip into disrepair. Keeping the body and the mind running properly should be every individual’s main goal, as only then can we help those around us.
Personal Relationships and Work
Of all the failures of 2017, this is the hardest one to talk about and overcome, but it is the main reason why shop output has slowed considerably. As I’ve said, driving the business forward was the only goal. In doing this I began to neglect the needs of my girlfriend at the time: not spending enough time doing enjoyable things together, attending social events, or growing as a couple. We ended up parting ways.
To hedge off any comments that may arise from this particular paragraph, my girlfriend at the time was 110% supportive of my endeavor and was one of the main reasons I was able to grow the business to what it was/is. She pushed me to grow as a person and entrepreneur. It wasn’t until she left that I was able to fully appreciate all the ways in which she helped and supported me.
Why would I want to continue a business that resulted in negative personal outcomes?
I wasn’t even working 24/7 for financial reasons either, a potentially excusable reason for the time and effort I was sacrificing. I was addicted to the steady growth and success of the business, as dumb as that may sound. Obviously, there are worse things in life to be addicted to, but this one still took its toll.
I lacked the personal fortitude to take care of the important people in my life and now must solider on. Although we are still friends, losing someone I cared about because of business hurt worse than dropping a freshly sharpened chisel onto a concrete floor…tip down.
Wait, what? I can’t crack a woodworking joke in the middle of this?
Business and Gettin’ Paid
Now to the business of business. So, let’s not get it twisted, Rybak Woodworking was started as a business, not a charity. Successfully being your own boss is probably one of the greatest freedoms someone can experience and remains my main goal. In order to reach that goal, I need to talk money.
At Rybak Woodworking, we understand that not everyone can afford a $5000 solid walnut table, but we always try to work with the customer to find a solution that fits their needs and budget.
For a business of our size, we felt we were getting a decent amount of requests coming into the shop. Unfortunately, though, we felt our customers’ expectations of pricing weren’t quite inline with ours.
In the words of the old timers at the sawmill, “Everyone wants Walmart prices!”
Maybe our prices were too high, or maybe the consumer was not properly educated on what it takes to build a quality item. Material prices, maintaining tools, consumables, rent, utilities and, most importantly, the value of a properly skilled craftsman, all play into a creating a handmade item. As craftsmen, we feel it’s our duty to educate the consumers on materials, construction method, costs etc. If they walk away from us more educated, they are better off and hopefully won’t get taken advantage of by Johnny Two Tables.
I’ll always bet the farm that you can find someone to do it faster or cheaper, but it all comes at a cost. Remember, there are levels to this game. You can’t speak about Anna White in the same sentence with Sam Maloof or George Nakashima, you just can’t.
Yeah, it’s time to jump off this soap box now.
COMING FULL CIRCLE
Ultimately, the lack of business and overall low output falls squarely on my shoulders as business man. It’s my responsibility to drum up work/create, and after everything stated above, I was lacking in that department. But…
WE ARE BACK (Mike, the guy writing this, is at least). I’m working on getting those tasty six pack abs back, properly prioritizing work, and regaining control of life outside of the shop.
This is not a typical blog post for Rybak Woodworking, but after spending Thanksgiving with friends and family, I wanted to be open and honest with everything that has been going on during the past 6-8 months. The small business life isn’t everything social media makes it out to be.
Just a softwood guy wrapped in a hardwood veneer.
Dusting off the keyboard.
The ups and downs of woodworking keep us busy in a variety of different ways. If we aren’t in the shop working on a project, we are working out new ideas, trying to drum up new business, or trying to keep things organized and clean….which is often a losing battle. In between this round of client work, we were fortunate enough to work with a fantastic local company, Ride Creative.
Ride Creative is a Baltimore based production company working to promote businesses of all shapes and sizes with amazing video campaigns. They have the ability to put together short-form promotional shots that are perfect for the various social media platforms we all use daily (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter etc.). Additionally, they also produce long-form storytelling, multi-camera productions, and everything in between. The team at Ride Creative is able to work with you from start to finish to help you tell your company’s story, allowing people to see a different side of what your company does on a daily basis. With several years of industry experience in cinematography, photography, production, and storytelling Ride Creative has the tools and the talent to get the job done right.
Long story short: if you need video content, Ride Creative can make it happen.
Our personal experience with Ride Creative was a 10/10. We worked from start to finish with Shane, a fellow Baltimore resident, who was able to connect with our local story. The experience started with a couple of emails/phone calls back and forth to learn about what our companies did respectively. After the short round of emails, we picked a day to meet up at the shop in order for Shane to become familiar with the space we work in, the lighting, and what we might want to try to capture on film. From there Shane developed a rough outline for the shoot and a list of interview questions for us to answer. Taking the time to fully answer the list of questions greatly helps the production team, so if you do decide to reach out to Ride Creative give them more rather than less. Once we looked over the outline and answered the questions we were ready to roll! We picked a day to film and made it happen.
We started filming around 9AM and rapped everything around 2-3 PM. Based off of Shane’s previous trip to the shop, he had a good idea of what he wanted to capture, making the shoot very easy and organized. Shane was able to coach me through the on camera interview, making me feel more comfortable and less robotic. It’s funny how a camera can make you act differently sometimes. We filmed quite a bit of extra content in order to make the best possible end product. It was neat to see what made the cut.
A few days later, Shane had the rough cuts finished and ready for us to review. The rough cuts were solid, and we were ready to upload them to the interwebs right then and there. Shane was able to shape the video footage into a fine piece of art. Cannes Film Festival look out! We were pumped and gave Shane the green light to finish editing the video so we could put it out to the public. The finishing touches he applied to the video really made it pop. Shane provided us with two video files, one formatted to work with Instagram and the other for YouTube. Please take the time to view them if you haven’t already :)
The entire process from start to finish was extremely low impact to Rybak Woodworking's operations. Shane and the entire Ride Creative team were extremely professional and streamlined in their work. We provided an approximate timeline above to give you an idea of how the process went for us.
If you or your company are in need of video content of any kind, I would ask that you reach out to Ride Creative and help support another local company. As Baltimore continues to grow, we should continue to help our local businesses grow.
If you have any questions please feel free to reach out.
Back to the shop,