Tell us a little bit about your business and how you started it.
Well, like many businesses, it was an accident. Years ago, in the “Prechildrenian” era, I got this crazy idea that I wanted to build an airplane. It took me about 3400 hours over two years, but I ended up with a 2 seat, fully aerobatic Ferrari in the sky. I spent the next six months flying all over our beautiful country. Lots of places I went were just crushed coral runways (Bahamas), grass strips carved out of the woods (all over the southeast) and other places where mechanics are hard to find. So I carried every tool I might need. Airplanes are very sensitive to weight and there isn’t much room, so I made denim tool rolls for every tool I carried. I fell in love with their elegance and simplicity. Tool rolls keep everything clean, organized and it’s easy to see what wrench you might be leaving behind in the grass.
At the same time, I’ve hated men’s toiletry kits for as long as I can remember. Those bags are like a black hole – one pocket for everything. This isn’t how a gentleman packs. Stick your finger in there and the first thing you find is a razor blade and I don’t like my toothbrush making out with my hairbrush. So one day I had the idea to make a tool roll for toiletries. I’m not sure why it took me so long. It was just for me. Then a few friends said “I want one”. Then a few more and, here we are, running a Kickstarter campaign. I don’t know where this is going to go, but it’s turned into a real adventure.
What do your kids think about your job?
Well, on the surface, they think it’s another crazy scheme from their father. It’s not the first one, so that might be justified. That I think they are also learning. I want them to see that it’s possible to come up with an idea and turn it into something. I want them to learn that entrepreneurship is not just starting something, but rather a way of looking at the world. Entrepreneurship is seeing what is, imagining what could be and figuring out how to get there. I want them to see that once you imagine what could be, you can tell a story and get people excited about it. That’s what I hope will happen.
I want them to understand at a visceral level what entrepreneurship is. I think they do-they started a store on Etsy to sell their own handmade pens. The store isn’t active very often-only when they need money. They can clear about $50 on a handmade wooden pen. Since they learned that, it’s been hard to pay them two dollars to clean the guinea pig cage.
Tell us about a total dad + biz fail?
Oh man, where do I start? Professionally, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up or even what growing up looks like. This might seem silly, but for all of my failures in the real world, there are 10 times more inside my head. Those the ideas that never make it past the itty-bitty sh#$@ committee. So I’ve been trying to turn the volume down on the committee. I can’t silence them, but I can make them quieter. That’s what happened on this project. Once you get rolling, it’s a lot harder for the committee to intervene (especially once it’s public). I hope my kids realize that as well.
Share with us a total win (brag away!)
I built an airplane. Twice. And then I got in it and flew it. All over our beautiful country. It was a passion project. But figuring out how much I learned from the project shaped the rest of my life. Because it helped me realize how I learn (and my spring-offs are likely to learn), we put our kids into a Montessori school. Then we started a public charter Montessori school so our kids (and 340 others) can continue this amazing learning expedition. Now, people actually pay me to help them set up makerspaces so they can teach kids how to do projects like that airplane and learn the same way. I still can’t believe I get paid to do that. It took a while, but it’s been a big win.
What's your relationship with Mamalode?
I once was asked in a job interview about the title I was most proud of. I thought for a few minutes and then said “Papa”. I didn’t get the job-but I was memorable. That’s my view of Mamalode. Mamalode is proud of parenting. You celebrate parenting-the hard parts, the good parts, the parts that make you cry, the parts that make you want to beat your child over the head and the parts that make you say “whew, it’s not just me!’. This is my tribe.
Also, I’m a huge fan of Elke. She inspires me.