If you told me five years ago that we’d be running a business while juggling all other life things, I think I might have laughed. I’ve always wanted to share our journey with DIY and small builds, but I never thought it would be like this. Funny story, I actually did start a blog years ago and quickly told myself lies like “you don’t have time for this” and “you’re not really good at this” and quit soon after publishing my first post. We were married pretty young and soon realized we could not afford many of the things we wanted in our home, so we started building small furniture and upcycling thrifted goods. I got into upholstery, painted a mural in my son’s nursery, stenciled a dining room because we couldn’t afford wallpaper, and even built a coffee table. And I was so excited about all the things I was doing, I just wanted to share all the possibilities on such a tight budget! But with a full-time job, motherhood, and all the things that come with them, I started feeling overwhelmed with the most mundane tasks, and the projects and hobbies eventually stopped. I continued to watch others on social media, jumping from project to project, and I would often think “I could do that if I wasn’t so lazy”.
Fast forward to 2020. We had just had our second son, my maternity leave was over, and I was back at work. Two weeks later, the world shut down. While people picked up hobbies and crafts because they were home due to the lock down, my work life was thrust into chaos. As you can imagine, being an ICU nurse at an already busy Chicago hospital that was now designated “The Pandemic Center of the Midwest!” meant that there was no slowing down for us. I was still nursing my son who refused formula, which meant that I was pumping at work, and also meant that my hormones were all over the place. Add to that watching otherwise healthy people die of this virus that people had been denying exists, despite all the medical intervention in the world. There are few things more heartbreaking than setting up a FaceTime call so people at home can watch their family member die. Or after scurrying for most of your shift, trying to keep someone alive only to code them towards the tail end of your shift, and packing their belongings and finding notes and pictures of their young children. All while coming home to be with Firas and my two young sons, isolated from the rest of our family. Needless to say, it was a rough year.
I came home one day and Firas had been experimenting with cutting boards. He was so excited at how the first one turned out, he started experimenting with other styles and wood species. “Can you believe there’s a hardwood that’s naturally purple?”. We started going to the lumberyard together regularly. I would put designs together and he would make them. We made boards for our parents, siblings, and some friends. Soon, strangers started requesting boards. We opened an Etsy shop, and Firas looked over at me and said, “let’s use your old inactive IG page to advertise, you already have almost 200 followers there.” I was hesitant at first, but the extra money would be helpful. And then realized I could start eventually sharing projects through that platform. We have learned so much since then and continue to learn everyday. Like the fact that you shouldn’t use Red Oak for a cutting board. As we grew, so much of the profit from our sales went straight into reinvesting in our business; from upgrading tools, to hiring a graphic designer.
Fast forward to today, we’re incredibly grateful for this journey so far and we have so much more in store. We are still learning every day. Like the fact that Firas doesn’t care much for the social media aspect of it all. We’ve made friends and have already been given exciting opportunities. This venture has brought on so many unexpected things; the fact that I get to watch Firas be creative and experiments with his designs, both of us learning new skills together, and more importantly, that this has been a healing experience, one that has given me moment of peace in the midst of chaos– and now, I’m ready to grow.