KRISTA HILLIS + STEPHEN BULL OF AMONG THE PINES
TELL US ABOUT YOU AND WHAT ROLE 'HAND-MADE' PLAYS IN YOUR LIFE...
Steve and I are ALWAYS crafting up something new. My background is actually in psychology and neuroscience — which lead me to my writing career. Based on the flexibility of my hours, we were able to kickstart our small, Canadian business. Steve is an all-round handy man, originally working as a gas engineer in England. After moving to Canada, he began building custom homes with my old man, appreciating the natural beauty and versatility of wood.
Today, Canadian culture and our appreciation for the great outdoors is what drives Among the Pines. Everything we do, from start to finish, is done by us. From conception to completion, we do it all. ‘Handmade’ to us, means creating quality goods through skill and passion. We’re very proud of our ever-growing collection, as we the great outdoors into the homes of Canadians — and those beyond the Great White North.
WHAT IS SOMETHING FUN/INTERESTING/PERSONAL ABOUT YOU + YOUR BUSINESS?
As mentioned, everything we make is inspired by nature. Whether it's the materials we source, the methods we use, or the initial concept that inspires us to create, it all relates back to the natural world. We often forage materials, using reclaimed, natural pieces to create new, one-of-a-kind goods.
HOW DID YOU GET INTERESTED IN BECOMING A MAKER? WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT IT?
Creating is something that comes naturally to both Steve and I — Among the Pines is 100% a labour of love. There’s nothing more enjoyable than sitting down with a journal and a head full of ideas. As these ideas develop, they come to life. It’s a rewarding process, especially in terms of creativity and personal growth.
WHAT IS IT THAT YOU SPECIALIZE IN WITHIN THE CRAFTING/HANDMADE GOODS WORLD?
We literally create new items every week, but we mainly focus on home decor and unique gifts. Although we mainly work with sustainable wood, we offer all kinds of goodies. From our homebrew soap (which is made with the beer we brew + whole leaf hops), to our funky fire-starter kit, we create without boundaries. In that sense, we specialize in creating goods that evoke our experiences with nature.
DESCRIBE YOUR ARTISTIC COMMUNITY AND HOW YOU THINK PEOPLE IN THAT COMMUNITY SEE YOU...
Although we specialize in woodworking, our core values are in-tune with a wide variety of artists and makers. From jewellery designers to visual artists, we gravitate towards those who understand their role to both create and educate. We will continue to shed light on current environmental issues that are affecting Canadians, in the hopes that we can collectively move towards a brighter, healthier future. In terms of the local ‘maker’ community — the journey has been an exciting one. There are so many like-minded, talented folks within our local communities, that we’ve met some amazing people along the way. Many business relationships have turned into friendships, and we think that’s pretty sweet!
WHAT STORIES DO YOU HAVE OR STRUGGLES HAVE YOU OVERCOME THAT WILL ENCOURAGE THE DEVELOPMENT + STRENGTHEN THE IDENTITY OF THE CANADIAN-CRAFTED INDUSTRY?
No need to sugarcoat it, business is tough. Not everyone is going to like what you're doing, and that's okay. As long as you stay true to yourself and take care of your target market, you're certainly on the right track.
In terms of strengthening our identity within the Canadian-crafted industry, we're just getting out there. In business, you can't expect success to come to you, you have to go out and get it — which is exactly what we're doing. We're hustling, and it's paying off.