Chicago-based woodworker Zak Rose has some some great insights about entrepreneurship, such as the value of patience, or doing the simple, physical tasks to give your brain time to work out complex ideas and design. Zak launched his own furniture and cabinetry label in 2010 after seven years of woodworking for a co-op. Most of his work is custom-made and he relies on reclaimed materials and natural oils whenever possible. Zak is a member of Dock 6, a cool collective of furniture makers and designers.
Hi Zak, can you tell us a little about your work process and method?
I like to see things full scale when I’m working. Mocking up ideas or drawing things to scale is a very important aspect of my design process. Also, doing the simple, physical tasks of woodworking–especially milling lumber–gives me time to work out more complex ideas and help get my designs out of my brain and into real life.
Do you enjoy your work? What exactly makes it all worth it?
I love my work. Seeing something go from a simple sketch to a fully formed 3-D object is extremely satisfying, especially when it maintains high functionality and a beautiful aesthetic. I also love designing and building this business with my wife. Tailoring the business to complement our life makes all the hard work worth it.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I’m inspired by travel, art, great craftsmanship, and the work of my colleagues.
Can you tell us a little about your workspace – how have your organised your workspace to create a stimulating and productive work environment?
I work in a huge workspace (approximately 30,000 sq. feet) that I share with a collective of six other similar businesses (Dock6collective.com). I have created a little square of space that I try to work in as much as possible. I take a lot of pride in a neat and tidy workspace; I believe it helps me be more creative.
What sort of skills do you need to do your work?
Patience is paramount. It’s also important to be able to see the big picture of any project as well as the fine details.
How did you start out?
When I lived in San Francisco I started working at a woodworking co-op building high end and very green cabinetry. I was really inspired by products we made, and the more I built the more I started coming up with designs of my own. Eventually I became a co-owner in the cooperative and when my wife and I moved back to Chicago, owning my own business was a given.
Do you have one piece of advice for other aspirant creative entrepreneurs?
Take it one step at a time and always try to move forward and stay positive. Work at what you love and always strive for a healthy work-life balance.
All photo credits: Emily Donelan