Poppycock June/July 2014 - Page 4

makers wood + leather + love It may have started with a scoff, but Walnut Studiolo is nothing to kid around about now. Celebrating their fifth year this October, this husband and wife duo turned a part-time hobby into an international success. P w e s l e y • b a u m a n ortland is Bike City, USA. We are always near or at the top of every bike-friendly list in the country. Maybe it’s the quaint size of the metropolitan area and the limitless outdoors that keep us pedaling, but this is a city that takes life on two wheels very seriously. In the community of bicycle accessories for tricking out your vintage Schwinn or performance road bike, a name you’ve definitely heard is that of Walnut. From Singapore to Switzerland and even Korea, you can get your hands the world ‘round on leather cinches, handlebar wraps, mud flaps, U-lock holsters, and even portage straps. If you can customize it on a bike, they’ve got it; but it’s in SE Portland on a dead end street out of a two-car garage that this mom and pop shop call their headquarters. Geoffrey and Valerie Franklin never set out to create Walnut Studiolo. It kinda created itself. Geoffrey is a design grad from University of Oregon. A bike enthusiast himself, and a designer by nature, Geoffrey was the buzz of his fellow cubiclites at an architectural firm as he always brought his customized bike in to work with a new bike hack. He was raised on a farm and his experience with leather horse tack and his design background gave him the savvy to simply make the things he couldn’t find online for his bike. 4 “I feel like what I learned [in college] is directly applicable to what I do now: Strength of material, value engineering, minimizing the number of connections and making them as strong as possible.” The architecture industry took a downturn around 2008, as most everything did, resulting in rounds of layoffs at work. By luck, Geoffrey was working on one of the few profitable projects left as a lead designer of a winery. Though he was one of the last fifty or so people left at the firm which once boasted more than 200 employees, he still found himself with free time to play around with new designs to create. It was in October of 2009 that his wife Valerie suggested they throw a few of the products Geoffrey had made up on the maker site Etsy. Geoffrey scoffed at the idea. Who would want to buy this stuff? Geoffrey just liked to make it and was in it for himself and his bike. Valerie cobbled together their digital storefront with no expectations. They had just a couple of sales that year, but even that trickle of interest coupled with a why-the-hell-not attitude was enough to keep them interested. It’s said that an architect would rather be doing anything