Tell me about yourself:
Hi! I am Nerissa, owner of and sole maker for Twisted Walnut custom wall art. I live in Detroit Lakes MN, with my husband of 20 years, my three boys, and our two dogs. I started Twisted Walnut in late 2014 as a way to pass the time after we relocated our family to Castle Rock, Colorado. Because we moved from Minnesota, I didn’t know many people and needed something to do.
What did your business look like when you first started?
When I first began playing with the idea of making signs, I didn’t really have many woodworking tools and didn’t really know how to start. We were shopping at IKEA in their clearance section and I picked up a couple of cabinet doors and shelf pieces with the thought that they would make interesting signs if painted on. At that time I didn’t have a die or craft cutter and wasn’t great at freehand, so I would print off designs with my inkjet printer on adhesive paper and cut each letter out with a scissor. I would line them up with tape and then paint over the letters. I made a sign for a friend and loved how much fun it was to see her reaction to my hours of cutting letters out haha, that I convinced my husband to let me buy a craft cutter and started learning how to use it.
Tell us about what you make now and why you love making it?
Nowadays I can be found in my wood shop, still making signs but using specialty and hardwood blank canvases that I now create from scratch. I love finding unique pieces of wood and creating something that connects to people. My absolute favorite pieces to do are ones that fill a need for someone such as a memorial sign or a handwriting sign.
At what point did you decide your “hobby” had the potential to become a business?
After I had completed a few signs I joined a handmade Facebook group that had a huge following and casually put up a few of my designs. When I got some interest and a few custom orders I realized how much I would love to make this my full time job. So I did. :)
How did you come up with the name of your business?
While experimenting with different types of wood, I got a beautiful piece of Walnut and fell in love with the coloring, graining and general look of the wood. I have always had a love of being outside and a natural attraction to the woods/ trees especially interesting looking crooked ones so I started thinking of what would represent what I did and combined it with something I loved and so Twisted Walnut was born.
Who is someone you follow on Instagram that inspires you and why?
There are several that would fall into this category but I would have to say @buildingthefarm is my favorite. Sonya and her family built a beautiful farmhouse in Georgia that I would totally love to live in. Her home and decor pics are always beautiful and she always has tips on being thrifty when decorating your home which is awesome. She also seems very honest about the challenges of social media and keeping up with appearances, and I love that type of honesty.
What has been a highlight since beginning your business?
After I had been doing custom orders for a while, I was contacted about opening up a shop space in a retail co-op out in Colorado. The Emporium is a beautiful store with so many talented vendors, at that moment I felt like this business could actually grow into more than just me doing the occasional custom order. Since then I have grown enough to have products in several retail stores, and will hopefully find
some more this year!
What advice do you have to share with someone who may want to start a handmade business?
Firstly, find what makes you unique and focus on that. There are so many talented makers out there and there will always be competition in a creative space, but try not to compare yourself to others doing the same thing. If you can make a living doing what you love that then go for it, but just because you may not be able to live on what you make, it doesn’t mean you are failing. Start simple and don’t try to do too much at once, and if you need to take a step back from your business do it... life happens, so take the time you need to live your life, the work can wait. It isn’t always the easiest, there are late nights, days where there isn’t enough time, and a lot of disappointments along the way, but there is so much to love about creating, for me it is totally worth it.
How can people purchase from you/connect with you?
You can find me at events in the F/M and Detroit Lakes area throughout the year, and you can purchase products on my Etsy Shop or contact me directly through Instagram or Facebook. If you are in the Detroit Lakes area, you can also purchase my work at Beautiful Junque boutique in downtown DL.
A note from Melissa:
I will be featuring amazing makers here on the blog EVERY Friday!! Shopping handmade holds a special place in my heart; there is something that just feels so good when you look at an item you own that someone made by hand for you. I know you will love learning about these talented people and their brands too!
Are you a maker that would like to be featured? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will chat about the details!