This wonderful thing that we established in 2017 was really inspired by so much more. And, that story started 100 years ago, kind of like the wood that we reclaim and use to make a lot of our reclaimed wood furniture and home decor.
The Cliff Notes are first, but I'd love for you to keep reading to get to the good stuff.
- Born and raised in Greater Cincinnati
- Always surrounded by tools and building materials
- Work = Play = Work?
- Papa was born in 1917 and played a unique role as mentor and teacher
- I got Papa's tools
- Family is everything
- Oh, and I cry a lot
Born and raised surrounded by tools
Growing up as the son of a construction worker and avid DIYer meant I was always surrounded by tools and wood and scraps of building materials that I could use however I wanted - unless, of course, it was to saw into the kitchen table - which I tried once. I don't remember that going so well.
Work = Play = Work?
If I wasn't playing a game or sport with my siblings and friends I was building or arranging something to make that play more exciting or to create spaces where we could gather. The oldest of four kids, I was the default crew foreman overseeing and leading the construction of forts, ramps, obstacle courses, ladders, (so we could climb taller trees or get onto rooftops) and more. When we were kids, this was all fun and games, but as we got older and stronger this meant helping to build decks with Dad, or rock walls for Mom, or sheds or canoe docks, or fire rings. For whatever reason, the idea that this was work - and wasn't play - never set in.
Mentor and Teacher
In addition to being surrounded by these things at home, I was so fortunate to have spent a great deal of my life under the care of my Papa, who happened to be a hobby woodworker. More importantly, though, he was an incredible mentor and teacher and I learned so much about how to live a fulfilling life from him, how to spend your time, and with whom. Papa was born in 1917 - 100 years prior to the founding of our small company - which meant the way he lived was informed by a lot of experiences that served as a backdrop for so many wonderful stories!
When Papa passed away in 2011 I was so blessed to receive many of the tools from his workshop, which provided the foundation for so much of the education I earned from the time I spent with Papa, and for the work I do today. I still use many of those tools everyday in the workshop and know that his watchful eye is evaluating every step. The awareness that he is watching over the work is part of what drives me to finish projects in a more detailed way and to take care to do the things that I know he would have done.
Still to this day I absolutely love using what is around me to create spaces where people can gather, or objects around which they can gather. Those spaces and things we created as kids were the centerpieces for our experiences and memories, and I hope that every time I pull the last brushstroke of finish across a piece of furniture that the foundations for new stories can be built around it.
Family is Everything
Building foundations is so important and the foundation for my whole life has been built around family. My immediate family as a child, my own immediate family now, and every part of my extended family from 1917 until now is the only reason I've been able to share this story. The story could have never been written without all of those characters (and believe me, there are a lot of characters).
Oh, and I cry a lot
Papa was deeply emotional and wore that emotion on his sleeve. He taught me that strong men can and should cry. Because of that I believe that joy can be expressed with a smile or a tear (or a lot of them.) As I wrote this, I cried. And every time I come back and read it again I cry. Not for sadness, but for joy. That I can still consider my work play and because this story continues. I'd love for you to be a part of it.
Keith Knapp, Founder/CEO