May 15th: National Armed Forces Day & International Day of Families
It only seemed right that we featured one of our newest vendors: Jacob Design Co. - Handmade Hardwood Cutting Boards Military Family Owned & Operated - Originated in Seward!
Hi! We are Natalie and Paul Jacob owners and operators of Jacob Design Co. We are an active Duty Coast Guard family who moved to Seward in 2018. We are originally from the Panhandle of Florida and but have lived in various locations all over the south eastern US, most recently being relocated to Southwest Harbor, ME. God has blessed us with two active little boys and two wild dogs along the way!
Jacob Design Co. was born in Seward, AK in 2019. Paul has always had an interest in woodworking and started experimenting with different techniques and tools over the years. Aspects of serving in the Coast Guard can be challenging and stressful at times, so woodworking became a way to relax and blow off steam. He has a streak of creativity with an eye for symmetrical patterns and small details which turned out to be perfect for making our detailed cutting boards. Our first batch of boards was six in total and we put them out on Facebook Market Place. After those sold we started getting requests locally for custom orders and things have grown from there.
We now do the bulk of our business online. It’s been great for allowing our customers to select specific custom options to create their own unique cutting board. We decided early on to name our cutting board designs to help with the customization process. Most of the boards are named after a location that’s important to us. We also have some that have been named after the customer that designed them! We get a lot of our inspiration by just pairing different types of wood together that complement each other. We both sketch our ideas and patterns that come to us, and we try to think of what would look good in our customers’ homes. We also have had some awesome wholesale customers along the way, the majority of our wholesale orders have come from businesses in Alaska!
So, when Paul puts together a board it’s a multi step and very detailed process. The biggest challenge for us is working with the unique variations and markings on each piece of wood, we try our hardest to make sure each cutting board looks as similar to the listing picture as possible. Once the wood is selected for an order he cuts it to length and begins surfacing the board. After that he cuts the stock into the appropriate size strips for the design then glued them together with food safe wood glue. The board then gets to cure before it’s sent through the planer to get it to the perfect size. Depending on which custom options are selected for the order we will do additional rounds of sanding, add the juice groove or rounded corners, and then add the edge profile. We also do what’s called “raising the grain”. This is a process that lessens the possibility of the wood from getting rough after being exposed to water when cleaning. It’s not entirely necessary but it’s an extra step we do to prolong the life of our cutting boards. Next it’s more even more sanding so the cutting board “feels like glass” as our 7 year old likes to say. The final steps include branding, a mineral oil bath, and a round of waxing with our proprietary Board Balm. Last but not least, Natalie puts the finishing touches with packaging and shipping and it’s off to its new home!
We wouldn’t say there’s any real secret to success when it comes to small businesses but here’s what worked for us: Come up with some sort of a business plan or mission, it doesn’t have to be this big grand report, just something that will help guide you whether it be manufacturing, sales, or whatever. Decide how you want to market your business. Social media is a great tool but it is very saturated so find a way to stand out. Also, do what you can to build a genuine organic following who will help you grow your business. Lastly, try to take some manageable risks and be creative. Your customers will let you know what works and what doesn’t!
We have had a hard time being away from Seward. Leaving was by far our hardest Coast Guard move to date. There is no place like it in the world and the memories we made there will be with us forever. Whether it was hiking to see Exit Glacier, grabbing some brisket from Firebrand, having a picnic at Lowell Point, or going down to the culvert for some late night/early morning fishing. We all feel so lucky to have lived in such a magical town. That place is special and a piece of us will always be there and we hope to return one day. That’s why we feel like it’s so special our boards will be at Forest, Tides, and Treasures - a part of us is still there in our favorite little Alaskan town!
Follow Paul & Natalie's Business on their Instagram: @jacob_design_co