The first videos for making the Paul Sellers’ walking canes, sticks and staffs are up and ongoing on woodworkingasterclasses.com. Back in the early 1990’s making these proved a financial lifesaver for me as a new-to-the-US craftsman with no reputation and trying to support a young family. I formulated a business plan that worked and decided to take a single product anyone could make and make a business from that single product. I did the same to making wooden spoons, bird houses and other small items that were low-cost production items people could afford and soon i was able to return to my first calling as a furniture maker. Yes I had to work three or four days a week making repetitive products, but my skills increased, I became faster and so I left the other days in the week for designing and making furniture.
After three years of making walking canes, sticks and hiking staffs the business was solidly established. I was soon making and selling about 7,000 of them throughout the year and the business continued t grow steadily. We had them in gift shops and State Parks, galleries and at craft shows. Gander Mountain ordered them in lots of a thousand and more at a time and so too gift catalogs. It was what it took to make a living back then.
Making the sticks for instructional purposes brought back many fond memories of how we develop our lives. Things often unfold through a vision we have to start something and we go through hard times to make things happen. I want to continue the along the avenue of Going on Your own by describing what I have found it takes to ‘become’ an entrepreneurial craftsman. Just how do we get a product to a selling stage and what kind of product will sell? I once had a business making and selling catapults (slingshots USA). It was a good business all told. Not saying that’s what anyone would do today, but it took some prototyping to bring the product to market. after that they sold by the baker’s dozen, literally. That’s another story.