Poppycock June/July 2014 - Page 5

else. In 2010, after surviving waves of layoffs, Geoffrey got his chance when he too was finally laid off. He worked on Walnut products while looking for work when it just became clear that they really had something here. He stopped sending out resumes and instead kept sending out orders. Thanks in part to some good press from Gizmodo, Real Simple, and a solid burn on bikesnobnyc.com, along with a successful write-up after their first “booth” (i.e. card table) at the bike craft fair put on by bikeportland; Walnut was kind of a big deal. While Geoffrey was full-timing it at Walnut, Valerie was holding down a day job until 2012 when she too was laid off from her job in wind power, joining the company fulltime. Really, this just meant spending a lot more time in the garage with her husband and growing their business without interruption. (Well, no interruption beyond a halfday to read the Sunday New York Times as she is wont to do.) Walnut has come a long way since the days of Etsy. This burgeoning company that was never really supposed to be anything but a lark began to ship all over the country. Every new state or city tracked by a pin on a map, it quickly became moot as they covered all fifty states and jumped across the pond in to international shipping. What was once a couple of items grew into full product lines from cribbage belts (Yeah, I said “cribbage” and “belt”) and architectural plan holders to business card holders and even wine bottle cinches…ya know, for your bike. Duh. The six-pack cinch is by far the coolest thing you can get from Walnut and is their signature item. It started its life as a custom order from a guy in Seattle looking for a classy and novel way to get his bike polo mallets from A to B. Geoffrey loved the design, the guy loved the custom item, but after three months listed and zero orders, Geoffrey was scratching his head. “I’m sitting in the garage one night and I’m staring at it. I’m like three beers in to a six-pack and it hits me like a bolt of lightning. This frame cinch should hold a six-pack of beer. There’s my architect mind at work: It is holding the six-pack in suspension, not compression like a column. “I did some test rides, jumping curbs, just putting it through the paces in the rain. Sure enough it turned in to one of our best-selling products.” About half of their products came from such a tale of something custom ordered that made for a potential crowd-pleaser. Geoff and Valerie aren’t looking to build a massive corporation or jump in to a factory. That’s not what Walnut is about. Geoff doesn’t want to get away from design or being an intricate part of what makes this handmade mom and pop shop run. 5