Read on to find out how I came to be working for Lee Valley Tools, Furniture & Cabinetmaking Magazine, Highland Woodworking, and Lie-Nielsen Toolworks...
I had the incredible privilege of being raised by two full time missionaries. There was rarely “extra” money floating around in our family, and yet we were afforded opportunities to do all kinds of things because my mother had an amazing knack for finding adventure and simply saying “yes.” We were able to travel the world from diapers to high school graduation. We got to sail on yachts, surf several oceans, go on chartered fishing excursions, backpack in some of the most beautiful places on the planet, stay in yurts, ride camels, parasail in the Gobe desert, the list goes on and on and on. My mom could always find the coolest opportunities in the weirdest places, and relationship, not money, has been the currency that has defined her rich life.
Just saying “yes” is the most important thing my mom taught me, and this past year has been no exception. Many of you know me from Instagram as @anneofalltrades. I started that profile mostly by accident - I thought it was a photo editing, not a photo sharing application - but quickly realized it was going to be an amazing tool to connect with some really remarkable people around the world. A year ago, a friend with more foresight into the significance therein than I, offered to sponsor me to attend Woodworking In America for the purpose of turning some of my virtual networking into real life relationship. Though money was very tight at the time, I had the now very familiar nudge that this trip would be worth the initial financial sacrifice, and boy, was it ever!
Soon after finalizing my travel arrangements for WIA14, I was asked to cover the event for the English woodworking magazine, Furniture and Cabinetmaking. Being a big fan, I couldn’t help but just say “yes.” At WIA 14, I met many of the woodworkers and toolmakers that have since become some of my best “real life” friends. Jason and Sarah Thigpen of Texas Heritage Woodworks, Chris Keuhn of Sterling Toolworks, Marco Terenzi, Mini Genius, and Todd Nebel being just a few.
The guise of writing the magazine article also gave me opportunity to meet Robin Lee, president of Lee Valley tools. A big fan of his tools as well as his company (ESPECIALLY their incredible customer service), I was very nervous to speak with him, but his genuine kindness and care immediately put me at ease. A few minutes into our conversation, he offered the opportunity to write for the Lee Valley newsletter as well. Still very much a “baby” woodworker, and unsure what helpful information on woodwork I would be able to share, I said “yes,” because I knew the potential of a broader audience. I also knew I would be stupid to say “no,” as this platform would allow me to meet others within the Lee Valley Veritas team. Soon enough I was also asked to do some light research and development on the tool-making side of things, so Of COURSE I had to say “yes” to the chance to play with cool new tools!
WIA14 came to an end and I returned to Seattle very excited to submit my first Furniture and Cabinetmaking article and start dreaming up written material for the Lee Valley newsletter. A few weeks after I submitted my first Furniture and Cabinetmaking article, I received a phone call from Derek Jones, the editor of the magazine, asking if I’d like to have a recurring column in the magazine, this time, featuring beginner woodwork and my Community Tool Chest Project. Though I KNEW I didn’t deserve that kind of offer in my infant stages of woodwork I continued to just say “YES!” Vowing never to claim being an expert on things I’m not, I set out to do my very best. My articles for F&C Mag and Lee Valley have since received incredible feedback and have opened many more doors for new relationships across the globe.
Dallas was full of unbelievable opportunities to practice saying “yes.” A week spent with Jason and Sarah Thigpen and their three boys, building relationship and learning about small family business and leather work? “YES!” An impromptu turning lesson in the shop of Curtis Turner? “YES!” A private tour of the Homestead Heritage Village and a chance to get to know Frank Strazza better? “YES!”
A few weeks ago, I was asked by Highland Woodworking to start writing a column on one of my passions - women in woodwork- for their online newsletter, so yet another honor I could not refuse. Of course I had to say “yes.”
The adventure continued to build momentum when I got a call from Deneb Puchalski shortly after the Dallas Lie-Nielsen event. Would I be interested in traveling to Maine this summer to discuss the possibility of working with Lie-Nielsen? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? “YES! YES! YES!” So that is how I ended up in Maine this past week, sitting down with Thomas Lie-Nielsen, talking about shows, tools, marketing and social media a conversation I would never in my wildest dreams believe I’d be having at this point in my young, immature and inexperienced stage of my career. But I'm so glad my mom taught me very early on to dream big and say “yes,” and I am so incredibly thankful I was given the chance to say “yes” to Lie-Nielsen.
So there you have it. Here I am, working with four companies who are doing absolutely amazing things for the handtool woodworking world. Some of them may be considered by many to be competitors, and might see my working for all of them as a conflict of interest. That, however, has been addressed with each of them, and answered by all in a better way than I could have imagined. To paraphrase the words from both Lie-Nielsen and Lee Valley, “We are not competitors. We need each other as much as we compete with each other, and if one or the other companies makes a better product, we applaud it and what it will do to advance the cause of preserving the traditional woodworking craft.” As an employee of both companies, a young female handtool woodworker just starting out, and an author with an ever growing audience, I believe my unique perspective will add to- and not detract from all of the incredible information already available for handtool woodworkers.
Celebrate with me, and be inspired to step out in faith and say “yes” more in your own lives! Know I am humbled and grateful for the opportunities freely given to me! As I take steps of faith forward, some small and some huge, in all things I do I commit to do my very best to bring you the finest material and the most honest feedback I can provide. Skeptical? Come over! Come into my house and take a tour for yourself. Come check out the furniture built by the sweat of my brow, flaws and all. Examine the Community Toolchest and my shop and personal tools. You will see favorite tools from Lee Valley and Lie-Nielsen used right alongside the tools from many other makers. Join the community for the ultimate goal is still the same as when I first started with Instagram - together we build community while we build everything else.