We had the good fortune of connecting with Brooke Csikos & Tyler Barnum and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brooke Csikos & Tyler Barnum, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
To begin this story we need to rewind a little bit. Brooke has a beautiful banded rock that she and her father collected, while visiting the Grand Canyon; This unknowingly started it all.
We decided to rescue a puppy, to keep our other rescue dog Cambria company. Max as he came to be named, was extremely sick with Parvovirus and was making a strong and speedy recovery. We have always lived an active lifestyle and enjoyed hiking, camping, fishing, and really any activity outdoors. Shortly after adopting Max we planned our first trip as a family of four. Kanab, Utah was the destination because it sits between multiple national parks and monuments. Within 30 minutes you can visit Zion National park or Bryce Canyon, which is just over an hour away.
The dogs had the time of their lives on the 5 acre, fenced in yard. We came to find out the home was owned by the CEO of the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals, “Best Friends”. After the trip was over and we were on our way home, we decided to stop off at the entrance to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The drive was many miles down a dirt road, and we decided to stop off and look for a rock from Utah, to join Brooke’s rock from the Grand Canyon.
After finding small pieces of colorful Jasper and Agate, we decided to hightail it out of there due to the multiple rattlesnake skins littering the area where we had been walking around.
These two rocks were only the beginning. The obsession didn’t start until we set out looking specifically for Jasper near Cave Creek, Arizona. This was the first time we went looking for a specific rock, and weren’t entirely sure what to expect. Would we find anything? Do we know what to look for? So many questions. After about an hour of hiking, Brooke pulled a piece of amazing Jasper from the wall of a wash, and the rest is history!
After our son was born and the pandemic hit hard, we really started to evaluate our career paths to something we could do from home, and something that we truly enjoyed. Due to both of our career experiences, myself being a digital marketing executive account manager and Brooke working with human resources, we were able to launch Arizona Rock Shop solely online. We built the website from scratch, used the little material we hand collected, started building relationships with miners, and started selling our pieces online. Only after a few months we were establishing a following base on Instagram that really launched our business. After 8 months in we were both able to quit our jobs and work on lapidary products that we hand collected, all while supporting our family.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Going into this we had no knowledge of lapidary work, or what lapidary even meant. We established relationships with a few local rock shop owners, who took us under their wing and taught us so much! Truly taught us the tricks of the trade! We learned everything from observation and hands on teaching. From slabbing a rough stone, mapping out cabochons, cutting/polishing cabochons, drilling various stones, the process for tumbling, etc. We are proud of our pieces and pride ourselves on small ethically sourced material, some of which is hand collected by us. We believe we are set apart from other lapidary artists due to our commitment to provide our customers with the highest grade material at the most affordable prices. It has been our mission to make the American miner the forefront of our business, and highlight the amazing material that is pulled out of the ground, right here in the USA!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We love hiking and definitely recommend checking out the Boyce Thompson Arboretum or the Legends of Superior Trail. We also enjoy taking our dogs down to Saguaro Lake where you can do horse back riding and ATVs.
For a weekend getaway we enjoy going up north to Payson/Chino Valley. There are tons of affordable Airbnbs that have land for our dogs to run free. Its a nice getaway from the city noise and at night you can see so many stars. While up there check out the East Verde River for a nice hike along the flowing river.
Within the city we enjoy eating at a family owned spot called Eden’s Grill. We also enjoy hanging out in Old Town Scottsdale visiting the shops and art galleries. Great places to eat down there RA Sushi, Banderas, and The Mission. Take a nice bike ride (or scooter) down the Green Belt, you can’t beat it!
The Botanical Garden is absolutely amazing, the light show during the holidays is amazing!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We would love to dedicate this piece to Tyler’s Grandmother Katherine Maggart who so graciously donated $1,000 to Arizona Rock Shop LLC, at the very beginning of our journey. This money allowed us to buy our first piece of equipment (Basic Arbor) for our home shop, as well as our first batch of material (Arizona Chrysocolla). We are forever grateful!