Justin: Well, I always wanted to get into clothing when I got out of school. I studied textiles in college, which was fine until my senior year. I realized that, since I’d always been a major food nerd, I’d rather just cook for a living. But after six months I felt a weird overhanging doubt about what I was doing; a college degree makes you feel like you should have a “real” job, so I started work at a small advertising firm in downtown Raleigh.
I worked there for a year, did my thing, and eventually felt pretty useless. Cooking, in comparison, was so quick and rewarding: you make the food, you give it to somebody, and they’re immediately happy and eating. But after I went back to working at restaurants, I still wasn’t satisfied. Becoming a successful chef is about so many things outside of what’s going on in the kitchen, which never sat right with me.
At the time I had decent savings from cooking because, when you work at a restaurant, you don’t have time to do anything else. I used that money to rent a tiny space to work on my motorcycle, giving me access to a workbench and some tools. This lead to me doing random welding and fabrication jobs (mostly fixing scooters and motorcycles).
People starting coming to me with odd jobs after word got around that there was this kid in the back of an old warehouse laying down some decent TIG beads. I’d make everything from motorcycle parts to custom milk pitchers for a local barista (he said something about needing the pour to happen at a certain angle). This stuff floated me for awhile after I quit my job.