Well this post should wrap up the story of 'How KaratStix Came To Be'. I must say that a lot of this couldn't have happened without the support of my brother Tom, and other family members too. He created the first prototypes of the needle gauges for me as I didn't have the tools. He helped me determine what equipment was required and was there for me in the early planning stages as I needed so much a sounding board who knew what it took to make these. We traveled together to a Woodworkers convention in Las Vegas in July of 2007 on the hunt for laser machines. We also learned of a really neat facility in our area, a business called TechShop.
TechShop's tag line says "Build your dreams here" and that is just what I did. For an affordable monthly membership fee I was able to use a laser machine to develop my products and refine them and determine really whether the laser machine would do what I needed it to, and which machine was the right one for my business. The machine at TechShop was similar to the one we ended up purchasing, but the one we chose was more powerful and does the job better. TechShop is opening up other locations so check out their website and see if they have one near you. They have lots of fun machines and equipment to use for those of us who can't afford them or keep them at home, and offer lots of classes. There's so much to choose from: vinyl cutting, 3D printing, woodworking and metal working equipment, embroidery machines, and much more. This was a fantastic way to test out the process, develop things more and make sure we had tested the market for my ideas.
My brother and I considered becoming business partners and he is still a big part of the business, but he has created a business of his own, which he operates on the side of his day job. His business runs the laser jobs for my business. I give him the files and he cuts them on the bamboo when he has the time. Sometimes I will cut them, but he does the majority of the jobs. I do the designing, the coloring, the finishing and various other tasks that go into making the items. And of course, the shipping, the online listings, the accounting, the ordering of materials, etc.
Several of my family and my husband and I pitched in the money to buy a laser machine and we took delivery of it in April of 2008. My brother has it set up at his work location. Sometime I'll take a photo of it and post it on here so you can see what it looks like. It works like a computer printer in a way -- you send a file from a computer to the laser and it cuts and engraves the various lines on the bamboo, sort of like printing ink on paper.