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I am starting a new series where I will interview small business owners in Central Pennsylvania. Today I am interviewing Stephanie Wolf who is the proprietor of Little Fish Place. She makes a little bit of everything ranging from reclaimed wood accents to beer coasters to canvas prints and I am in love. Read on to learn more about this creative woman and the inspiration behind her work.
What inspired you to start woodworking and upcycling?
I was always…ALWAYS a creative kid. I had an incredible imagination, and was always building, painting, sketching, or experimenting. As I got older, life got busy, but I never stopped envisioning “something out of nothing”. If I saw something in a store, I would go home and make it for myself instead. I went to college for business and knew I wanted to work for myself being a maker someday, it just took me longer than I had planned (better late than never, right?!). So, in 2015, I started my business part time, and in October of last year, I decided it was the right time to go off on my own and give it a try! I have no idea where my love for wood comes from! There are no woodworkers in my family and I wasn’t exposed to the trade at all. I just developed a huge passion for the craft and started teaching myself, buying one tool at a time to build a workshop. Nature has been a big part of my life since childhood, and green living is very important to me, so maybe that’s what inspired it?
Where do you find your supplies?
My supplies for my roasting sticks, tree slice art, etc. are all found in nature. They are all downed limbs that I pick up off of the forest floor. I never cut green (living) wood! This past Super Bowl Sunday we were at a friends house when I spotted some incredible hardwoods in their yard from a tree that fell. So, while everyone was inside watching the game, I was loading my husband’s truck up with what to me was gold! A similar thing happened at my first yard sale of the year. I didn’t really score anything at the sale, but on my way out I got some cherry wood from their yard. It’s like an addiction. As far as the rest of my products that don’t come right from nature, they are scrap wood from my shop, yard sale finds, auction treasures..anywhere really! When I see something, that’s the moment I decide. It’s like it will speak to me. I just don’t like waste, so I find a way to make it into something exciting and unique.
What is your favorite thing to make?
Wow, I don’t know if I could pick a favorite…I think that’s why I like what I do so much. It’s constantly changing, surprising me and my customers (especially the projects that come to life by accident). I really embrace change, so a wide variety is right up my alley. If I had to pick a favorite however, it would be my roasting sticks. I just love those things!
Is your workspace messy or organized?
My workspace is definitely organized for an artist. I have always had an organized and structured personality. I think if I could learn to loosen up a bit, it would help me creatively.
Where do you find motivation to create new things?
My motivation comes from so many avenues. Half of the time I see something and the wheels start turning. A vision either comes to me or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t then I pass on that item and move on. Other times it’s my customers. A lot of my custom work is from people who don’t know how or don’t want to make something, but they know exactly what they want. We come up with a basic plan, and they let me take it from there.
What tools can you not live without?
Tools…I LOVE MY SHOP! Forget jewelry, I’d rather have a power tool any day. I’d say the most valuable tool for my work is my sander. That thing is my lifeline.
What’s the most rewarding part of your business?
The absolute most rewarding part of my job is making people happy. I love seeing people smile, or exceeding their expectations. Customer service is THE MOST important thing to me. I want people to be blown away from communication, to product quality, to show display, to packaging. Seeing positive reviews, or receiving a thank you note..it really is what drives me.
How do you price your work?
Pricing…sigh. It’s not my strong suit. I do well pricing my products on a material level, however I still have some work to do on the time/labor aspect. I’m often told I’m not charging enough, especially for the quality of the end product. I’m working on it though…
What do you do when you’re not making such cool stuff?
I put in more hours now than ever. I love what I do, so it’s not like working for me. When I can actually get myself to walk away, the hubs and I love to travel and go on adventures, near or far. We like to go new places and try new things. We also spend quite a bit of time with our children (the kind with paws). I love the outdoors, and actually love working on my landscaping and flowers. I am also very close to my family, so I go to visit them as often as I can as well.
Are you going to be at any craft fairs in the near future?
I just did the Go Green in the City event in York, PA, which was really neat. Nothing is currently scheduled, but I see some big moves in my future.