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Chad and Jessica Schumacher, Wooden Pens

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Chad Schumacher

Have you always worked with your hands?
No, prior to starting Allegory Jess and I worked in project management and marketing in the technology field. Quite a change!

What drew you to your chosen craft?
In 2012 the business we both worked for closed. Our son was two months old, and all our savings was wrapped up in the business we were working at. We were left with nothing. My father had taken up woodworking in his retirement and given us a few pens. We got the idea to start a Kickstarter project to make some extra money while looking for work. The project doubled its goal, so we decided to give it 6 months and see if we could build a business. Almost four years later, here we are.

What do you enjoy most about your craft?
Very often we get to make peoples favorite thing. Knowing that we made something that holds a special place in the hearts of others is really gratifying.

How long did it take you to become an expert?
I’ll let you know when it happens. Ha! It took about a year to master pen making, but woodworking in general is a vast tradition with tons of specialties. We are able to do our work well because we focus on mastering very specific tasks. We still have lots we want to learn.

Do you feel like you are still learning?
Yes, I hope we never stop. Solving new problems keeps our work from being repetitive.

How many hours do you spend making each item?
It varies widely. We can make 2 or 3 of some items in an hour, while others take most of a day to complete. For custom work we can spend a week on a single piece.

If you could spend a day with a master of your craft (past or present), who would it be and why?
Frank Lloyd Wright. His blend of artistry, vision and craftsmanship is inspiring.

Is there any one person who has bought/used any of your products that makes you especially proud
We have had the good fortune of working with celebrities and public figures, but we’re just as proud when we can make something deeply meaningful to someone. We’ve gotten to work with wood from people’s history together to make pieces for their wedding, or making heirlooms for a family with wood from their childhood home. Being trusted with someone’s memories is the biggest honor we can receive.

What does the future hold for you type of work? Are you training young people in your craft?
So many people are being attracted to working with their hands these days. I hope that trend continues. It’s rewarding work.

Why is it important for people to make things with their own hands?
I think our culture has become so far removed from the manufacturing process that we have forgotten the human aspect of it. Making something yourself allows you to start wondering about the story behind all of the things people buy, where they come from, and what life is like for the people who make it. These are important questions that don’t get asked often enough.

In what ways are handmade goods better than those that are mass-produced?
They aren’t always. It all comes down to the story behind something, the lives of the people who made it, and the thought and care that went into it. The good stuff comes when buyers get interested in those stories rather than just the price tag.

Visit Chad & Jessica’s Website