One can rustle up local, heirloom foods for dinner without too much trouble these days. The same goes for beer, wine, and soda pop. Websites like Craigslist are making it easier to keep wealth, goods, and useful services in local economies as well—“Does anyone in my neighborhood have a weed whipper I can borrow?” and “Can you trade anything for expert tax preparation?” aren’t uncommon posts on the site. But what if you want more refined consumer products to come from a local, artisanal source? Ten yards of rope, say, or a luxury chef’s knife? Good luck.
Add high-end, handmade products to the list of future demands from savvy consumers. While the entry barriers to product design, manufacture, and distribution are crumbling, the entrepreneurial spirit in America is rallying. Made by Hand, a Brooklyn-based web video series, is documenting the growing movement.
The videos are gorgeous to look at, edited with meticulous care and full of beautiful footage of people plying their craft. Each one centers on the story of a single DIY entrepreneur—where they came from, the challenges they faced, and the rewards of their venture. The second and most recent film takes us inside the workshop of Joel Bukiewicz, a former MFA graduate and frustrated writer who set up his own knife making studio. After honing his skills, he now sells his Cut Brooklyn-brand knives to elite chefs in New York City and beyond.
In the interview, Bukiewicz speaks to the allure of independent, do-it-yourself work:
I think probably some folks getting into it think that there’s this great opportunity—it’s like the streets are paved with gold in the handmade world. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Where the currency is really rich is in community, is in the friendships you develop, the fact that you get to do what you want to do, and, for the most part, not be bossed around. In quality of life, it’s rich.