Cops Don't like kids with saws in parks at night.
I've been making stuff since day one.
I remember making a earring stand out of cardboard when I was maybe eight years old. I didn’t even have my ears pierced, but this was pre-production for when I did. I got an idea in my head and went straight into build mode. I found a piece of cardboard and made it stand upright thanks to some clever “Z” folding, and eventually it had evenly placed little pin prick holes in pairs. I knew exactly how far apart they should be––I’d measured against some earrings from my mother's jewelry box––and made enough for something ambitious, like 50 pairs of earrings.
I think to this day I own two pairs––and they sit in a jewelry box just like my mother’s.
My glorious stand was never used, but it was a masterpiece I was proud of. It was the beginning for me of developing my craft, and my passion for making incredible things.
Flash forward to age 15. I remember sneaking into a park with a hack saw and cutting down some bamboo. I didn’t feel bad because I remember a friend’s mother once complained about how you just can’t get rid of the stuff––it grows like wildfire. So, it sounded like fair game to me.
But I was still pretty aware by now that cops don’t like kids with saws in parks at night, so I waited till pitch dark––and you must know I dressed in black head to toe. Honestly, I would have stolen my friend’s mother’s bamboo and done her a favor, but the park was closer, and I had my eye on it already. My creation, again––a rude amount of genius!
I borrowed a friend’s dad’s power tools, but he would give me nothing sharp––guy didn’t know I already had my own saw. Now, armed with a circular sander and a drill and my hack saw, I got to work. I cut the bamboo into little rings, left and right of where the nodes (solid in-betweens) are, laid them flat and sanded the rough edges away. But my saw kind of sucked, so it took forever. With the drill, I created little sunken “U”-shaped grooves––grooves perfect for a cigarette to sit in. That’s right, I was creating custom ashtrays. Sweet sweet, wooden ashtrays. Even though I didn’t smoke, I knew it was brilliant––everyone else does!
I think this was my first creative business venture, and not just a fun project. I came up with a price for these babies, practiced my sales pitch, and off I went.
Well, I didn’t make a damn cent.
But my door-to-door marketing efforts did get me a job as a coffee girl on the weekends in a small creative ad agency. I had knocked on their door after at least 30 others, cold calling and pitching my product through an office building I’d casually slipped into, where the guy at the desk downstairs didn’t even see me coming. When the door opened at the office and I was invited in, I couldn’t believe it. They thought I was cool––and totally nuts. But they talked to me about my idea. They became my friends. They did art and business and advertising. And thanks to that experience, years later I naturally picked up a course in Marketing and Graphic design.
I no longer steal bamboo from parks.
Now I build out entire spaces alongside my husband, Josh, who is an incredible carpenter. I handle the graphics and print and branding of a few incredibly creative brands; he builds beautiful interior finishes and stunning custom furniture with his hands––all to bring to life a client’s wildest dreams. Currently, we’re based in New York, and have teamed up to build the Matchbook Distilling Company front-of-house gin apothecary. We are also launching a hotel on the North Fork with the same incredible team, called The Lin Beach House. It's so satisfying and I'm so proud of what I do––inspired daily by my team. Making stuff is what I do, and what I always will do.
Author - Nancy Cameron