Episode Recap

Jeff and I talked about

  • The importance of having a diverse “party” supporting your business quest (10:12)
  • Using his background in marketing to elevate the creative careers of his other staff members. (13:35)
  • The challenges of scaling a business selling handmade products (26:24)

    

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Transcript:

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Jeff Basladynski 0:00
But the great thing about what we do is that we’re always at a convention every weekend, so we can test those markets. So instead of saying: I make this thing and then put out to sell, I don’t know what the price it is, but the very least we have marketplace. We have a sales channel to go out, and saying test the market. If it didn’t sell, we know that that’s not the price. But if it sells really crazy, then we just raise the price to match the market demand.

Jennifer Fultz 0:35
You’re listening to Chief Executive Auntie the podcast exploring the work lives of Asian Americans beyond the conventional doctor, lawyer and engineer. I’m your host, Jennifer Duann Fultz. Hey everyone, welcome to the show. My guest today is Jeff Basladynski, co-founder of 2 Bros and a Bard which creates handcrafted wood and bronze items inspired by nerdom. Welcome to the show Jeff.

Jeff Basladynski 1:05
Thank you.

Jennifer Fultz 1:06
So I love your business and your business model and the concept so much. Tell me a little bit about what it is that you really do.

Jeff Basladynski 1:16
Well, we’re 2 Bros and a Bard. And we specialize in doing nerd-inspired wood and bronze art. We do a little bit of everything. We started doing this company making small handcrafted items like jewelry, necklaces, things like that. It was mostly from when I apprentice at my friends place. He made exotic and wooden puzzles and we took all the scraps and we started making little things and I made it for my wife at the time. And then people were really trying to egg me on and saying: hey, you should go to cons. I’m part of the con world. I love going to anime shows, Comic-Con, things like that. And I really wanted to say you know what, maybe I should just actually try it out. So my good friends, my co-business partner. He and I have been together for God, since first grade. So I’ve known this guy for over 25 years. And he went to art school and got involved in doing bronze casting as his craft. But he went to school for it. I didn’t go to school for woodworking. I just basically was fiddling with wood for a long time since we were kids but never professional level until about four years ago when I quit my IT job and doing that. So the big thing was, we were just basically having fun trying to figure some things out, and really initially just trying to figure out ways going to conventions to pay for and have fun without paying for ourselves. So we nowadays, our business plan is basically just making jokes and making those jokes laser engraved on our handcrafted products, but we do a lot. We do a lot.

Jennifer Fultz 2:56
What’s your favorite nerdy property or universe?

Jeff Basladynski 3:01
My favorite nerdy property or universe. That is a hard one without getting shot. Star Trek is definitely my fandom. I loved Star Trek since I was a little… but I’m one of those few people that actually love Star Wars as well. So but if I had to choose like, you know, a someone in a white suit was about to shoot me, I’ll still live. I would definitely save Star Trek as my favorite fandom of everything.

Jennifer Fultz 3:33
I’m a Star Wars girl. I watched, I’ve only seen the new Star Treks and I didn’t hate them so I am not like militantly anti Star Trek or anything. I’m also big into Lord of the Rings.

Jeff Basladynski 3:45
Yes my wife is huge in Lord of the Rings as well. I love Warlord and–

Jennifer Fultz 3:50
Is she the Bard in 2 Bros and a Bard?

Jeff Basladynski 3:52
She’s actually be transitioning into becoming a Bro. And I’m transitioning to become the bard because apparently, with the way that we do things when we go to shows I am very outspoken and energetic. So I really have this charisma where I bring people into this to our shop or really do a lot of showmanship things.

Jennifer Fultz 4:14
I almost asked you what your charisma stat is.

Jeff Basladynski 4:16
Oh, it’s maxed out for sure — So I will be coming the Bard and then my wife will be coming the Bro and she’ll be actually part of an equal partner since our business has accelerated to the point where we need help. And having some organizational skills like my wife will have, because everything with the way that we’ve been running our company has been chaos.

Jennifer Fultz 4:41
Chaotic evil or chaotic, at least chaotic neutral?

Jeff Basladynski 4:46
Let’s just say chaos-chaos. It’s definitely chaos squared at the very least, maybe chaos cube. But everything has been really projecting on. We started this company as more or less a joke And we kept on going this joke to the point where it’s a real entity and a real business, to the point where we have payroll, and so forth. We just look at our original business plan. And we’re like we are so beyond our original assessment of where we thought this company would go. That now we’re thinking of other things and just making jokes to the point where we’re now launching secondary companies based of this. And to really truly see where a lot of our friends or family or even other people who are now coming to us and saying: we love your company, we love what you — we’d like to help you out in some sort of capacity. I mean, it’s very endearing for us to see where we can really go, at least push the joke further. But we do a lot and we have fun at it. So.

Jennifer Fultz 5:55
That’s the important thing and make sure as long as you can pay the bills. That’s funny that you have to payroll and now are like: oh, okay, how do I do this thing? I think the first time I had to hire a subcontractor for a project, I was like: I don’t know what to do here.

Jeff Basladynski 6:10
Well, it helps out. Because, so Brendan, my business partner, he went to college and did art school. So he’s very creative. He’s on the other spectrum. So I’m much more of an extrovert and he’s much more an introvert. So that’s why we pair very well. So and the thing is, is that since we’ve had such a very long history together, we did our Eagle Scouts projects together, we went to school together. The only time we’ve never really been together was during our college phase. But we would visit each other so forth here, did their trips and things like that. And now that we’re pulling in all of our, our backgrounds together, our experiences, you know, even though he’s an artist person, he has an engineering mind, and so do I. So I went to engineering school at NC State University. But I’m much more math oriented, and he’s much more creative. And I guess you could say fluid. So he sees things a little bit differently. And even though that we try to do the same objective, we may not come to the same way. But the objective is still the same. And so I can trust him on doing some things. And then and then others is like, I don’t know if I trust myself. Maybe I need to get a third party. So at least we kind of like back and forth and seeing how do we did this? And sometimes when we work ourselves almost to the point of exhaustion and death. It’s just nice to have somebody there to just say: hey, that’s stupid. Here’s a simple 30 second solution instead of three hours of banging your head against the wall. And that actually has happened when we first got our laser machine I spent six hours trying to set this up, I couldn’t get the thing working. And it’s a Chinese laser machine that honestly the manual was in Chinese. I had to go talk to my mom.

Jennifer Fultz 8:13
Perfect.

Jeff Basladynski 8:14
But it wasn’t like, really apparent and at the time, I was just so sleep deprived that I couldn’t figure it out. And then he comes in. It’s like, what does this thing mean? This three dash eight four? Like: I, hey, I know where that setting is! It’s over here. He spent maybe 10 seconds, walked through the door and like, figured out the problem, even though that he didn’t know there was a problem. So, you know, so that’s how we really mix and match and we pair things out.

Jennifer Fultz 8:44
What’s your wife’s background? I’m just curious.

Jeff Basladynski 8:47
My wife is from Brazil, and she has a wide repertoire of background as well. So she went to college down in Brazil and came to the States and did some college here as well. So she was really– She’s very organized and oriented. She did a lot of office work, clerical work as her background, so trying to bring her in. Because she knows whenever she goes to our office, it’s like chaos. It’s like cats came in and just threw everything on the floor, and we don’t even have cats. So just trying to organize the chaos so that we do. But every section that we do try to organize something we make more chaos someplace else. So sometimes my wife just basically– I just– walks away.

Jennifer Fultz 9:34
I had to work, I shouldn’t say had to, I worked in a real estate office for almost two years. And that was actually one of the more valuable experiences in my life because it did force me to learn; one to learn about business because I don’t have a business background. And it just taught me like okay, here, you know, you have to have processes, especially if you’re working with multiple people. You have to have ways to keep things organized. And, you know, I’ll never say that that was my dream job, but it’s actually one of the most valuable work experiences that I’ve had. So it sounds like you’ve got a lot of really good complementary skill. That’s what you got to have, you have to have diversify your party, right? You can’t all be barbarians. You gotta have like your cleric and your bard, and your rogue, and…

Jeff Basladynski 10:23
I mean, everyone has that plan, right? Of where if the world went to shit, who is your doctor, right? Who’s going to really help you out? Who’s going to collect and find all the loot in the world and in case Armageddon happens tomorrow? I know all the nerds that I’ve ever talked to, every nerd has a plan of that, even though that we could probably never pick up more than five pounds. But everybody has that contingency plan or at least planning of, you know, if we had to go play WoW, who’s going to do what class and who’s going to be support, who’s going to do the the DPS, and things like that. And for us, we have that level of skill set with our company. And it’s not just us two anymore, you know, my wife’s a part of the company and we’ve got two full-time employees. And we’re bringing in a part time employees here and there. And then we have our sales force when we go out to conventions. So all in all, our small company that started less than three years ago now it’s probably 10 people all in all. We’re growing. And we have a wait list of people that wanting to work with us and like people give us resumes and like, we are not professional. Don’t give us resumes. We have no idea what to do with this. If you print it out, if you give us some paper, it’s just going to basically sit over here on the side of this corner of the office, and maybe at one point maybe be turned into a paper airplane. But like we play things, you know, to our strengths and advantages, so the people that are with us, like we don’t say: do this and do that. We just basically want when we bring people in, we want them to be energized and passionate about the things that they want to do. So we have one of our latest hires. We hired Herambe about a month ago or so to help us craft in the workshop. But she’s actually a software engineer. So this is not really a more or less her background of doing, you know, craft things, but she actually has her own craft. So she’s an artist part time doing her small things. So she’d start drawing and doodling and now and we’re trying to like help her out and turn her career so that she’s a graphic designer for us too. So she has made some artwork that we laser engraved on some keychains and things like that. And she started doing her own promotion. So I’ve been helping her out of trying to launch her own specific brand of saying: hey, you love her kooky little art of a Hammerhead like a fun little thing. And she made some t-shirts and it was very successful, especially the small batche that she did. And then shTle does lapidary. So she does rocks, like polish rocks and make them into jewelry. And when she was with us at Dragon Con this past year, she never really made more than a couple pieces here and there and I really pushed her saying: hey, if we’re going to go there, there’s the opportunity there. We have a lot of our products, whatever products you have, it doesn’t really affect my business. Like you’re going to find a person that’s going to value your artwork, your craft, and you’re going to find them and then do the sale. My background is marketing. And my background is also well a lot, 10 other things. I did IT, did software engineering, graphic design, web development. At one point I was stupid enough to go into photography —

Jennifer Fultz 13:49
Me too!

Jeff Basladynski 13:52
But I went to photography school and did commercial photography and I think that’s where most of my business savviness came from. Because photography world is hellaciously bad in terms of business. So if you’re bad at business and you’re a good photographer, you can tank real fast. And but if you’re a good business person and a good photographer, you can still tank. And that’s the thing that is crazy, is that photography is very similar to the fashion world. Where even if you’re a good talent and a good business person, that if you don’t have the charisma and don’t have the networking abilities, that your business won’t survive. And unlike every other traditional businesses where we have other service, or retail, or other products and things like that. That’s something that I learned when I interned with a couple of professional photographers based in Florida. And they were the ones that really helped me in learning the business side of that and when you can learn a business side of something as crazy as photography, then it kind of applies to everything else. And marketing, you can do that in any company. And that’s why when I went to State, I did marketing, because everybody needs marketing. It’s the most quintessential thing in every business plan. Like even the most boring companies in the world have marketing and they have marketing advertisement budgets. So, you know, you always have to cut through the clutter of saying: do you need services for plumbing. You know, it’s a very safe and easy business to get into. But there are a lot of plumbers and it’s a service industry. But the same thing on retail products like Macy’s, things like that. You got to bring people in the door. And that’s just another marketing, like why would you go to Macy’s if you go to Target and so forth. So.

Jennifer Fultz 15:50
Yeah. It sounds like you have managed to use most of your assortment of skills though in the company that you have now. Did you build your website?

Jeff Basladynski 16:02
We initially did build our website, but now we just use Shopify. Because as much as I would love to do web development, I’m so far out of the game by I don’t know, five, seven years at this point, that just trying to keep up with security updates and things like that. It’s–

Jennifer Fultz 16:22
It’s probably not the best use of your time.

Jeff Basladynski 16:24
No, no, my best use of time is just keep on telling jokes and trying to get people involved in the company. So you have to pick and choose and I think that’s where I tell people is that you always, whenever you — Well, the first thing I tell people whenever they want to start a business is business plan. It is the simplest thing and everyone and it trips me up every single time whenever someone says: but I don’t know. I don’t know how to do it. It’s like yeah, you do. It’s easy. You just even as simple where you just create a one page document. Do bullet points that you have to find what your market is, who your market is, what you’re making, how much it costs and what your price point would sell. And even us till today, we still don’t know some of our prices on things that we do, because we’re making new things every time. So, but the great thing about what we do is that we’re always at a convention every weekend, so we can test those markets. So instead of saying: I make this thing and then put out to sell. I don’t know what the price is, but the very least we have marketplace, we have a sales channel to go out and saying test the market. If it didn’t sell, we know that that’s not the price. But if it sells really crazy. Then we just raise the price to match the market demand.

Jennifer Fultz 17:42
Yeah, it’s so nice that you have that such a frequent opportunity for market research because I see sometimes, you know, more like in the one person businesses like freelancers and they spend a lot of time developing some kind of product or service and they spend ages and ages and ages. Not that I’ve ever done this before. Ages and ages developing a product or a service, and then they bring it to market and it’s just like crickets. And it’s like: oh, did you talk to anybody who needs this? Did you look and see where the need is? So that’s really great that you have the opportunity to do market research. So you’re at cons every weekend?

Jeff Basladynski 18:22
Every weekend. Sometimes we’re at a convention two, three on a weekend. So we have our — That’s why we have 10 people when we do three cons. Like the start of this year we had three cons in one weekend. And it got to the point where when the conventions kind of like, shut down early, my wife was doing it. Greensboro Comic Con and I was in Charlotte, North Carolina, and then Brandon, my business partner, he was in Raleigh for a different convention. And so in Greensboro, a snowstorm was coming in and they canceled Sunday’s show and my wife called me on Saturday, right when the show was about to end and she was like: oh, I didn’t want to call you and to disturb you, but they’re not doing tomorrow. And she thought that I was gonna get angry and upset like, oh man, we lost the sales day. And then I was like, no drive to come here. Now I’m out of product. You have product; come here now and we’re gonna have fun. So she ended up packing up on Saturday and just come straight down to Charlotte and we had a great time. We sold even more stuff and I told people when I was still at the show, because my show went on for an extra two hours for Saturday, that I was like: come back tomorrow. I don’t have anything here today. Everything’s sold out. Just come back tomorrow and I will have new things and everyone’s like: how will you have new things? Are you making stuff in your hotel room?

Yes I am. I bring my stuff to the hotel.

Well, that’s also the thing is that we routinely always bring craft stuff and we do make stuff in our hotel room. Like Dragon Con two years ago, I actually did not sleep for four days. When we were doing the sales at the show floor. The second that we get ended up I went to the hotel. Like I, we actually physically upgraded our booth every single day. Like we built a new wall, we had some new things, some wall art, we built a gate, I built a new sign, like this four foot sign that I had to paint in the the bathroom of the hotel. And I didn’t have a paintbrush, so I used my sock. And there’s photos of this online. If people are like, wow, that’s ridiculous. And then they see the sign the next day and they’re like, you didn’t sleep did you? And you’re like: yeah, I didn’t sleep at all.

Jennifer Fultz 20:39
You should get like an old school bus or something. Rip all the seats out and have it be a mobile workshop.

Jeff Basladynski 20:45
That’s called 2 Bros in a Bus.

Jennifer Fultz 20:48
I mean, I’m just saying.

Jeff Basladynski 20:50
Oh no, we thought this through. No, we have business plans. And that’s a great thing. And I tell people even if you have crazy kooky ideas, write a business plan. Even if it’s a one simple abstract one page of saying as simple as stupid as 2 Bros in a Bus. What is it? Oh, it’s a mobile workshop with the tools in the back, you do your crafts and you have a studio or even a bed in there so that way it subverts costs of staying in hotels and whatnot, you know. And that’s what you just basically do, and it’s a thinking exercise. So and we did this for business school, is even if you do thought processes, you never really actually execute the plan. It’s just a great example of saying, what would be the cost involved? How much is their truck? How much is all the tools? How much would it cost in gas just to move all of this stuff from point A to point B? But then when it sounds silly and kooky, but when you go through the exercise then you like to say —

Jennifer Fultz 21:51
Well this actually works.

Jeff Basladynski 21:53
This might work. Like and then when we thought this through a Nissan launched their mobile workshop van like a week later at one of the conventions. Not the art conventions, it was a car convention in Europe because they have a huge fan… whatever the people out there. So they were launching this new van and we’re like: oh, we can go to Nissan and they could just make us a full size van with all the tools as woodworkers and we can — and they have these fabulous background scenes where they’re like in Ireland and Switzerland and people were doing woodcraft in their shop, little mobile shop. And then we’re just fantasizing and thinking oh, how wonderful would that be? And then we were like, it’s only going to be made in Europe. And you can’t import it ‘cuz it doesn’t pass code here in the US. And so now our whole hearts goes like: aww. I guess we have to make it ourselves.

Jennifer Fultz 22:52
Which would be appropriate. My mom goal is if we have another kid I want a minivan that has a vacuum cleaner built into it. Because.. but they make those. They have those but because I think there’s like an entire box of Cheerios in my car just like scattered in various places. So that’s my dream.

Jeff Basladynski 23:13
That is called the Chrysler Pacifica 2020 brand new on the market. I’m not being paid by Chrysler. They have that now. It’s standard for the things and they were marketing that to us earlier.

Jennifer Fultz 23:26
But I need like a wet vac too.

Jeff Basladynski 23:28
A wet vac, just have a dry/wet vac shop vac in the back.

Jennifer Fultz 23:32
Or just open the windows in a car wash.

Jeff Basladynski 23:35
With the kids still in. That’s called a shower as well.

Jennifer Fultz 23:39
So where and when do you actually do the crafting besides your hotel room at a convention?

Jeff Basladynski 23:46
So we have a commercial workshop where we live in Apex North Carolina and it’s a storage facility that has a workshop flex and office space in the front. And it’s all zoned and commercial to do this. All of our crafts are done there, we have industrial equipment, a lot of different tools like table saws, band saws. And then hopefully in the next month we’ll be able to upgrade our facility and have an actual clean room to have all of our lasers, stuff like a bat in there. Right now all of our lasers are still at my house. So whenever we do lasering, we have to do the crafts in the commercial workshop and bring it home and doing lasering and bring it back to the shop. So there’s some logistical challenges when we do something like that. And we never really planned on having a commercial workshop like this early in our business. We always thought we’ll just do it in our garage, just be like apple and we just have a small two-car garage with some tools. And then this opportunity came up and we’re like, oh, we can get a commercial workshop, get it all licensed and have everything there and then we actually physically go to work. Like instead of just waking up and going downstairs and then doing stuff, sometimes it’s like detrimental mentality-wise of like, you know. Now it’s more like I’m physically going to go to work and physically do physical work. And then you get that whole clear mindset.

Jennifer Fultz 25:15
Yeah, for sure. I at this point have my office in the place in my bedroom. So there’s like no separation. I spend all my time in the same like little space but I am also part of a co-working space so I occasionally go there to sit next to other adults. I don’t really want to talk to them, but I just like to have other human beings who are not three feet tall around me.

Jeff Basladynski 25:41
Yeah, I mean, and that’s the thing is I tell people is when they asked us like: you can still like the scale of what we’re doing is that we can still manage our business in a commercial– or our home garage, and be small scale. But our plan is to try to grow this company to where it can be one: just expand and the scalability of things. So we’re investing our time and effort right now, looking at not our needs right now, it’s more or less looking at our needs for the next year or two, to the point where we have an extra 1, 2, 3, 4 employees making stuff with us.

Jennifer Fultz 26:19
— Scaling a handcrafted product is very difficult.

Jeff Basladynski 26:24
Yeah, it is quite is. So we’re getting this into crafting challenges right now. So right now, Brendan and I are the only ones that can handcraft chopsticks from start to finish. We’ve got our new hire, she’s gotten the — There’s this three step process. So she’s got the first step down, and we’re trying to train her to the second step. And then my wife, she’s on the first step. She’s really fast at it. And then the second step, she’s getting to it as well. So we work all side by side and try to get stuff. The only problem is that now I am the crux of the whole business for the chopsticks for production. So at the very least I can come in like, you know, like Batman and just save the day — and they’ll step two and then they can finish step three. And then Brendan, unfortunately he has gotten — he’s made too much chopsticks lately. So he burnt his hands out. So he has to sit out for another month before he can get back on that horse and making chopsticks. So now it’s more of like logistical challenge, like okay, well we’re down a worker because he made too much of the one thing and hurt his hand. So let’s scale things more but have more people involved. And that’s also the challenges with handcrafts especially with something as high dexterity requirement as ours, that we’re not trying to blow people’s hands off. It’s more or less we want to make sure that you know, if we hire more people that can do the tasks that we need, the business needs, which is making a hot item like our chopsticks. But we also want to make sure that they’re not doing some repetitive tasks eight hours a day and injuring themselves. Just like you know, trying to get carpal tunnel by typing too much in the day, we try to look at other projects and make them a hit as well. Which we have. So our keychains, our bookmarks, earrings, things like that is now increasing in value in terms of being potential good hit items. And so that way we say okay, here’s the production schedule for the day. Is that make chopsticks for two hours, make bookmarks for two hours, make keychains for two hours, and really spread out the hand dexterity requirements of the day so you’re not making one thing and all of a sudden you’re just gonna keep moving your hands and you know, after a while it’s gonna hurt.

Jennifer Fultz 28:53
Yeah, for sure. I mean I’m on a computer all day so I don’t have a physical product. But even that, like I’m holding my mouse all day long, I’m even as after like two hours. I’m like, oh, this doesn’t feel good anymore. I can probably get an ergonomic mouse or something.

Jeff Basladynski 29:08
Well, I mean, even that is it’s, you know, having a rest for your mouse so you can actually rest your wrists is always good. The other thing is you can be wearing tight-fit gloves. So if you’ve never seen that, it’s basically a form fitting glove made with some sort of compression textile. And that helps with blood flow in those areas, especially in joints. And one of my good friends, he actually have ran a company that uses specialized medical textiles based in the UK, developed by this fancy engineer-biotech guy, really smart dude. And then he made gloves, wraps, things like that, and he started targeting esport models. So he went to esport events. And then we tag-teamed for last year at some conventions. And so he sold the gloves where all the esport people saying; hey, if you play eight hours a day, you probably want to make sure you don’t get carpal tunnel, and here’s a product that can help. And then oh yeah, this guy over here sells chopsticks with jokes on it, you should probably buy that too. So that’s where you know things and also again, I didn’t say this, but my background is also I did marketing for a medical company. So and I did went to NC State doing textile. So I did textile engineering. And I know all these people so I have a very wide variety of backgrounds. And a lot of this ends up being overlaps to the point where it’s comical of like, how much did I do?

Jennifer Fultz 30:42
Yeah, and I think but I think having all of that you know, what you — you went to photography school — you did your marketing, but like none of that has been wasted. You’ve been able to get something out of all of it. So that’s, that’s encouraging.

Jeff Basladynski 30:59
Yeah, and the thing is that I hold zero degrees. I went to all these different schools and all these different universities. But more or less I went to them on the the quest of an understanding of just going to the schools to learn. I knew since when we were kids that we were going to — I was going to start a company in some sort of fashion. I had, don’t ask me that if I knew when I was four that I was going to start a chopstick company. No, no, no. I was more or less on the plan of like, hey, I’ll go to school, I will learn engineering and maybe start an engineering firm or something like that. Very tiger mom in you know, imagined world. And yes, my mom wanted me to go to engineering or lawyer or doctor. The typical three, but yeah, which never really surfaced. And yes, I still hear from that everyday.

Jennifer Fultz 31:56
I just ended up marrying a doctor but not that kind of doctor. But she’s happy now. My mom’s happy now.

Jeff Basladynski 32:02
I think my plan right now is to just make this business so successful that my university has to give me an honorary doctorate degree. And then at least — I’d made that to the joke at one of the Alumni Association events a couple months back, and they laughed, but I was serious. I was like, if you give me a, if you give me a doctorate in engineering, or marketing or whatever, I will totally teach for free.

Jennifer Fultz 32:28
And your jokes have a way of coming true. So.

Jeff Basladynski 32:30
Yes. So when we do our business plans, and we always, or at least I look at the business plan and saying: where do we go from here, you know? And every weekend, we accelerate our plan of saying, hey, we did well at this show. Maybe we should do three more shows like it. And that’s why we did so many shows last year. And then this year, we tripled the shows in the next year. We have no idea what we’re going to do for next year. Like so much stuff hinges on the next couple of months because we actually grabbed a second workshop this month. So at the end of this month we’ll have a second workshop production. And trying to get into the other side of our business, which is bronze work that’s Brandon’s crafts. Unfortunately, we have been so busy making chopsticks and woodcraft that he hasn’t had time to do bronze work, and out of all of us, he’s the only one who knows how to do it. So and it scares me that the bronze work because every time that he does it, there’s always fire. And I’m like Mr. Magoo when it comes to fire. Something always or anything really is that something happens to me. And it’s the stupidest thing. Like for me whenever I do woodworking, I get splinters. I get splinters everywhere. And it’s just like it’s not even like the most typical way of like you’re holding wood. It’s like I hold my phon and I get a splinter from my phone. Or I’ll be at a show and I hold paper and then I get a splinter like a wood piece that was in the middle of paper and I get it, and I’m like everyone around me, my wife is like how does that happen? You’re supposed to get a paper cut. I have a splinter! There’s a wood splinter that’s like an inch in and it just got me on my — So and then adding fire would not be — so I stay away from fire. I figured that would be the best course of action.

Jennifer Fultz 34:27
So where can people find you in the next couple of months? Got any good cons coming up?

Jeff Basladynski 34:33
So we have five events left of the month or sorry another month. We have five events left for the year. So we’re actually going to be jumping over to West Coast. And this week for Kumoricon Con in Portland. It’s going to be our first show West Coast ever, which is a huge milestone for us. So since we’re East Coast based and logistics usually planned is when you drive to shows or you fly to shows, the added travel costs is significant. So in our industry for cons, doing flight travel for doing craft shows is almost impossible to do. And last — or the beginning of this year, I did a Chicago show where I flew to called C2E2. It was a very big show run by Reedpop. And it was a test to see if it was logistically possible to fly to shows with our small crafts and do a show and make money. And that was a huge success to the point where it revolutionized our business plan of saying: we can fly to shows. Like we’re not mandated on the idea of driving to, you know, six, eight, ten hours and going to these shows and trying to figure out costs. Now it’s like, okay, we fly to shows now logistical challenges change a little bit, but we can still make these shows work. So now we’re going to be in Kumoricon Con in Portland this Friday, Saturday, Sunday, coming up. Then we’ll be doing some Christmas craft fairs; one in Raleigh, North Carolina at the end of this month for Black Friday. It’s our last and only normal market that we do. Everything else we do is comic, anime, or Japanese blossom festivals. And then we’ll do so Yama-Con is in Tennessee and Holiday Matsuri. And if you don’t know anything about any of these conventions, or anime shows or comic cons, I can tell you right now that Holiday Matsuri is one of the most fun shows and it’s in Orlando, and you’re like a mile away from Disney. So we plan on making that as a company retreat. And just stay there for a week. And then do Disney, Universal and just have fun.

Jennifer Fultz 36:44
That sounds awesome. So if somebody can’t make it to one of the conventions, where can they purchase your products?

Jeff Basladynski 36:50
They can go online to our website at 2BrosAndABard.com.

Jennifer Fultz 36:55
I’ll link that in the show notes. So thank you so much, Jeff for indulging my nerddom on this Monday morning and for sharing your story with us. Thank you so much.

Jeff Basladynski 37:09
Thank you Have a good one.

Jennifer Fultz 37:11
Thanks for tuning in to Chief Executive Auntie. You can find show notes, resource links and more Auntie rants at chiefexecutiveauntie.com. Special thanks to SueAnn Hsiah who mixed and mastered this episode and composed the music, Alyssa de la Rosa who created the branding, and my distribution partner Mochi magazine. Check out more stories for Asian American women at www.mochimag.com. See you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Guest Bio:

Jeff Basladynski is the co-founder of 2 Bros and Bard. He started out making wooden Tetris earrings for his girlfriend now wife, then branched out into coasters, cutting boards, butcher blocks, chopsticks and more.

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