Sunday Ramblings Vol.5

*Sunday Ramblings is a weekly post where we share our personal anecdotes and thoughts. These posts won’t necessarily be directly related to In the Rough, but the likelihood is that they will be while creating a transparent look into the business.*

*This is Volume 5*

Do you ever sit back at what you’re doing now compared to what you were doing five, even 10 years in the past? I can’t help but going back to roughly 11 years ago when I was fairly confident I’d be living in Grand Rapids, MI, studying how to build furniture. The brochure made it look idyllic. Studying and building furniture in a state-of-the-art building surrounded by nature. Everywhere I looked I heard nothing but positive things about both the school and the city. I was excited. I built a portfolio – I don’t remember what it consisted of anymore. I filled in the application… I did everything short of actually applying. That excitement didn’t last that long. I somehow didn’t realize the price for an international student. $30,000 tuition for one year? It was a four year program. That didn’t include anything else. I’d need a place to live, food, textbooks, materials? A new computer… what else? Surely the expenses didn’t end there. My excitement and that dream got put to a staggering and shattering halt. Maybe I wasn’t excited as I thought. As I do, I kept moving forward. The dream got slotted away somewhere deep and dark and my daily grind turned to finishing my English degree.

Since then, the dream changed. It changed a lot. I landed in a spot that was at first inspiring (maybe blindly so) and eventually a great teacher, in the sense that I learned a lot about the rights and wrongs about business, but also about myself. I found my passion. I ended up back in school, back with a dream to do things for myself. Am I a bad employee? I don’t think so. But I think I have a lot to offer the world, or on a smaller level, my community. This new dream struck me so hard it felt like it had always been a part of me – like another limb, one that I didn’t know about but once I found it I wasn’t sure how I’d lived without it before then! Sounds cheesy, I know. My apologies.

The dream today is still the same. It feels farther now than when I went back to school, especially as now I’m paying off student debt that really slows everything down. Money being the biggest deterrent… or the only one? In my mind it’s the only thing stopping me, but in reality I know there’s a lot more to it than that. I know that I still have a lot of work to do to get to where I really want to be, but I also know that I will continue to work hard to get there. Until then, I need to find that passionate fire and apply it here… because I know I’ve been slacking. I need to resurrect that Grand Rapids dream, and maybe, just maybe, that’s when everything will click into place.

Sunday Ramblings Vol.4

*Sunday Ramblings is a weekly post where we share our personal anecdotes and thoughts. These posts won’t necessarily be directly related to In the Rough, but the likelihood is that they will be while creating a transparent look into the business.*

*This is Volume 4*

Here we are again. How is it I continue to miss writing on the other six days of the week?! At least my Sunday posts seem to be sticking. I’ll make sure it stays that way, so whoever is reading this little piece of internet has new fun things to discover.

The last little while has felt like it went by in a flash. It somehow feels like I’ve been over-promising and under-delivering, but that’s not the case at all. I’ve been on top of most things (don’t look over at my couch-turned-laundry-basket of clothes that need to be folded and put away), and I keep thinking of awesome ideas that I want to put into fruition but time is fleeting so my to-do list gets longer. By the way, do you know anyone who wants a decent sized collection of old records? I’ve read countless articles about the merits of to-do lists. Some articles claim that they’re ridiculous and the only thing you get with a to-do list is adding things to said list, while on the other hand these experts claim that a to-do list is the only way people get anything done. It’s really incredibly difficult to figure out which type of person you are without trying. I can hold many things in my brain, too many in fact, but there are some very positive merits to writing things down and being able to cross things off a list as you finish them. I am learning that some things just never get crossed off to-do lists, especially those tasks affiliated with a business. I’m still feeling like I’m in a love-hate relationship with my ever-expanding list but I’m trying to embrace and wrangle it into a loving, nurturing, and helpful tool. Despite this, it’s been a great week. I re-discovered a band I haven’t listened to in far too long (can’t stop listening to this song), I worked a lot, made brownies for my coworkers so we survive the week, and even learned a bit about contract brewing! If only the weather would warm up I’d really be happy! 🙂

Sunday Ramblings Vol.2

*Sunday Ramblings is a weekly post where we share our personal anecdotes and thoughts. These posts won’t necessarily be directly related to In the Rough, but the likelihood is that they will be while creating a transparent look into the business.*

*This is Volume 2*

Let’s not get into the minutiae, I know it’s actually Monday, but really, working all day and having a pj Oscar party (Yikes! One hell of an Hollywood ending, amiright?!) leaves me rambling in the wee, wee hours.

This week was rough. Ha! Get it? Rough, In the Rough, rough… I digress. I got hit with the mother of all colds and could do little else than sleep for an almost record-breaking 48 hours. Coming out the other side of this cold left me lifeless and lacking energy. I felt compelled to continue my quarantine with more tea, more pulp fiction (novels, not the movie – although that would’ve been fine too) and absolutely nothing productive. What do you do? Do I take the time to heal? Do I push through and withstand a couple more days of a foggy brain and red, stuffy nose? I vote for healing, but is that really what’s best? I know this is something entrepreneurs are constantly struggling with, and although I’ve really only dipped my toe in, I know it’s something I’m going to have to figure out… eventually. On the other hand, I am so completely aware that I have things that need to get finalized, or powering through the to-do list on tasks I haven’t started yet, so figuring it out seems trivial and lazy. That’s what tomorrow is for! At least I’ll keep telling myself that, for now.

 

Sunday Ramblings Vol.1

*Sunday Ramblings is going to become a weekly post where we share our personal anecdotes and thoughts. These posts won’t necessarily be directly related to In the Rough, but the likelihood is that they will be while creating a transparent look into the business.*

*This is Volume 1*

 

This weekend the weather was amazing! And by amazing, I most definitely mean amazing for winter. Those who know me know that I love winter about the same amount as I love tomatoes, and that’s less than 5%. The sun was out (Ottawa didn’t really have sun for the first half of February), the weather reached about 8 degrees above freezing, snow was melting, and I was happy. We happened to be running around which let me soak in some of that glorious Vitamin D that I’ve been severely lacking, and thankfully all those good sunshine-y vibes got my creative juices flowing.

I started thinking about where I want to see myself go with my woodworking. So far I haven’t really pushed my knowledge and capabilities, but I’d like to start integrating the diamond silhouette into other things. I sort of want to learn how to do in-laid woodworking. I’d like to eventually start building bigger things. I’m interested in seeing how to pair wood with things like leather to make fun and unexpected objects. Aaannnndddd, this is my problem. This is sort of why I’ve never been able to see a business to fruition before. My dreams are too big for the present. I see where I want to be in two, three, even ten years in the future and get weighted down by not knowing how to start small. As it were, integral aspects were missed and I’m playing catch-up to make sure In the Rough is presented as an actual, real, cohesive business.

I also put finalizing touches on our font, logo, colour palette, and business card design. This was tougher than anticipated, but it’s done and that makes me happy. It’s one more thing I can tick off the business to-do list, making this weekend that much better.

Did you enjoy your weekend too? Tell me about something that stood out about the last few days!

What’s in a Name?

Do you ever think about where a name comes from? Do you wonder if there’s a special meaning behind the name, or merely a ‘good idea’ that came to among friends? I love asking people about the inspiration behind things they name – pets, businesses, cars, or if they’re anything like me, random inanimate objects. I like knowing what’s behind a name, the story, the reasoning.

So, before you ask, here are some reasons why In the Rough came to be:

  • Our launch product is/was a diamond. Not a real one (in the carbon under pressure sense), but one made of wood. Many beautiful diamonds made of many different types of wood. We are thisclose to launching our next product – a yoga mat/blanket/beach towel carrier made of leather – so diamonds are not our one and only.
  • The things we have decided to create all start as something a little different than they end up, a little… rougher. Blocks of wood cut and sanded to show off the grain in geometric shapes. Sheets of leather hand cut, dyed and put together to give you a streamlined carrier. Up-cycled glass to catch the light and hold plants or candles. Before and during production, our offerings spend a lot of time ‘in the rough’ before becoming your treasures.
  • If you’ve read my last post, you know that this business has been years in coming. You could say that I have been in a state of limbo and finally am finding a way out (I can’t speak for Scott on this point) and am finding my full potential, just like our products are while they’re being handcrafted. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s 3am and I’m emotional after watching Father of the Bride 🙂
  • In the making of a brand and image, I wanted something that could relate to anyone and to many different items. Even though I believe I’ll continue to go back to diamonds time and time again, the words ‘in the rough’ mean so much more.

There it is. I know there will be moments of frustration and times of clarity, and I hope that throughout all of it, I’ll be able to think back to this moment and remember that In the Rough is so much more to me than the things we make.

For the Love of Local

Local. It’s been a buzzword for awhile now, and for good reason. While the entirety of the world is feeling like it’s at our fingertips, we sometimes forget that what’s around us is just as cool, and interesting, and worthy of our time and money.

Insert me.

I used to sort of hate Ottawa. I was young (like high school young – I can hear my mom’s laughter and her saying ‘you’re still young!’)  and felt bored by this city. Little did I know I was missing out on Canada’s best kept secret. As I grew up and found more freedom I began to see what Ottawa really had to offer – a great landscape for adventure, culture, and community. Back then it really was a big town/little city trying to find its roots. Lots of people felt it was a struggle, and like anything that has potential had its share of haters (people still say that Ottawa is the city that fun forgot – boo to those people). I was convinced they were wrong, and would debate my little heart out if I was faced with negativity towards the city that saw me -safely- through my rebellious teenage years. Between friends I became the go-to person to ask about what was going on in the city – new restaurant or store openings, concerts, off-the-beaten track sights, festivals – I was even nicknamed “Dana-knows” for awhile. I’m still convinced the haters are wrong, and always will be, especially as Ottawa grows up with new transit, new developments and lots of newcomers. So without delving into a deep hole of explaining how Ottawa is a great city, I’ll say that the local scene is amazing and keep it at that, sort of.

A little over two years ago I went back to school for business. The business bug had finally sunk its teeth into me and all the years of my dad saying “that’s a good business idea” was starting to stick. I loved the idea of being a local business owner. It carried a sense of pride and belonging that I never really felt before. I finally knew, after years of doubting if I’d ever have a career instead of a job, what I wanted to do. Local became my mantra, and it didn’t feel forced or contrived like other trendy things can. I remember writing a post on Facebook around that same time about October’s Support Local Month. It touched on my dream of owning a custom furniture store, but more to the point that supporting local is important when things like outlet malls pop up around the city. I dug it up just now and was happy to find that all 22 businesses I tagged in that post are still alive and kicking today – and they’re all owned by hardworking people in our community, employing your neighbours, and making Ottawa a place with character and heart.

We celebrated Scott’s birthday this past weekend and as I was wrapping his gifts I realized that everything I got him was from a local business and shopping that way has become second nature. If you want to see what I got him, check out our Instagram page. It’ll also keep you up to date on what we’re tinkering with and what we’ll be selling (Etsy page coming soon – stay tuned)!

You may be asking why I’m going down this path. Well, it’s because I believe strongly in it. Starting a business does heavily rely on support from friends and family but also people that I don’t know yet but who want to spend their hard earned cash on what we have to offer. I’ll never tire of having a loud voice of support local/support independent/support small business, and will mention it as much as I can! As Valentine’s Day approaches, think twice about where you’ll get those flowers, or that box of chocolates, or maybe even a cute little wooden diamond available at Maker House Co. in Ottawa’s Hintonburg neighbourhood, made by yours truly 😉

Nighty night,

Dana