I run a small durable goods company called Lion & Anvil. And that sentence itself would have blown me away five years ago. But over the last year of this business, my introverted self has reached out to some of them “strangers”, and wouldn't ya know it...they're not half bad.
I have become acquainted with quite a few of the guys (and a few gals) in the handmade/craftsman world and they are some very generous people. Generous with their encouragement, generous with their advice, and generous with their information. For me, none have been more so than our guy, Breclaimed. We recently exchanged some goods, and here is what I had to say on Instagram about the railroad spike hangers he made me:
Even when you have never met a man face to face, when you meet his work, in a sense, you meet him. I'm not talking about what he might have to do to pay the bills. I'm talking about what he does because it's what's in him. It's what you meet because he just shared part of himself...showed you a glimpse of what's inside.
When I opened up a package this morning and found these railroad spike hangers from @breclaimed, I smiled and took a good long look at them. I just let them linger and speak to me. The thoughts and questions they offered...where did these spikes come from?...what's his thought process as he created these?...what did he have to overcome that day in the whirlwind of life to push through and make these happen?...does he know I will cherish these the rest of my life?
You see, these spikes will never just be hangers to me. They are legacy pieces. Hopefully, one day I will be able to tell my grandkids about them. Carefully explain to them the backstory. And I don't just want them to hear the story, I want them to feel the story. Why? Because this token of friendship has gained entrance into my story and will forever remind me of the best of what life's journey has to offer. Thank you, Brian Mcquaid.
I could go on and on about the great things Brian creates, but that's not the point I'm trying to make. My point is to highlight the stuff he does besides creating...stuff that he doesn’t have to do. The first time I reached out to him, I sent him an email asking his feedback about our brand. And he responded. More than that though, it wasn’t some weak email just so he could say he responded. He put effort into it and gave some valuable feedback. I still go back and look at it from time-to-time when I’m re-evaluating Lion & Anvil and what it is we are wanting to offer our tribe. He earned my respect that day and has continued to do so ever since. Not always by doing things as significant as the spike hangers. It may be input on how to build a belt rack or as simple as a quick comment or like on Instagram.
The bottom line is, I know the dude cares. And because of that I’m sitting here doing the finger-peck-shuffle instead of sitting on my bum watching Wheel of Fortune (no, I don’t really watch Wheel of Fortune). And that is how I think it should work. People looking out for one another, even if you don't know them all that well, yet. Sometimes that means taking a chance on a stranger who could end up being a real piece of work. And if they are, so be it. Move on to another stranger. It’s not always going to be rosy or reciprocated, but the new friends you make will far outweigh the jerks.
With all the distractions of living in the Information Age, it's pretty sweet to be able to reach out to another maker across the country, or even the world, and connect with them. The safer route is to stay in our own little worlds, keeping busy and building boxes to put ourselves into. As for this Texas boy, I'm hooked. I'm going to keep engaging the community out there and see how many strangers...I can turn into friends. There are a lot of reasons to start a business, but the most fulfilling part for me has also been the most unexpected.