Crafters are partners in design – despite a separation by provinces
Chris Cooper and Kevin Kelly are business partners, despite living in two different cities. On a normal night, Kelly, who’s in Toronto, will email ideas and designs that reach Cooper in Edmonton, who then incorporates them into wooden items for their company, Finn & Burnsie. They craft wood signs, beer six-packs and custom bike crates out of often reclaimed wood – all with unique, hand-carved logos.
While Cooper tends to do the production side of things, occasionally they collaborate. Case in point: A carved Ouija board that Kelly worked on for 60 hours before mailing to Cooper to complete. Cooper and Kelly both spend their days as graphic designers – Cooper works for EPCOR while Kelly designs for the Ontario government. But, Cooper says, working after hours to create items for companies such as Dauphine, Duchess Bake Shop and Blake Loates Photography doesn’t feel like traditional work. “I love the opportunity to learn. When you need something done, rather than find someone else to do it, you can make it yourself. Necessity breeds new ideas,” says Cooper.
And when they started the business in 2012, it was necessity that drove Cooper to learn how to work with wood – something he’d never done before. He’s constantly learning while creating unique items that aren’t found in big-box stores. He’s made many custom bike crates, catering the items to the specific bike and the person’s situation. One, for example, had lids that locked at the top. “It wouldn’t be that hard to break into it, but you’d have to be a real jerk to break into a wooden box,” says Cooper.
Cooper learns through trial and error, which is part of what he loves about the business. And he’s passing along his knowledge to his four-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son. He hopes to instill a passion for innovation. It seems to be working; his son recently crafted what Cooper calls “a hamster hotel” out of scraps of wood.