We had the good fortune of connecting with Jason Etzel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jason, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
It’s a fun story actually.. I had been following Justin Scarred’s YouTube channel for a while and in one of his videos, a friend of his, Spike, had made him a tiki style sign. I thought that sign was awesome looking and I wanted to know how it was done, but I didn’t take any actions to find out at that time. About a month later, a close friend of mine asked me to create a sign for her daughter. And this is the fun part because I haven’t done any woodworking in over 20 years.. not since high school, in fact. I had been doing graphic design and web programming at that time. I actually started my company doing that but it wasn’t really going anywhere. So when my friend asked me to create this sign, I jumped at the idea and immediately bought myself a router and reached out to Spike on Facebook and asked him to teach me how to create that tiki style as I wanted to create that style of sign for my friend. And he did, over Facebook Messenger. Several chats later, and after one test sign, I was creating the sign for my friend. It came out pretty decently and it started this change in my business to move in the direction of woodworking. And I couldn’t be happier!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I create and sell custom signs and other crafts. I’m a huge Disney fan so a lot of what I do is themed around Disney and other theme parks. I can create with hand and CNC routers, laser cut and engraving, decals and will soon be adding 3D printed goods. I create with wood, metal, acrylic and vinyl. I see a lot of the same things being sold in many shops, especially on Etsy. I try to create things that I’ve never seen at other shops. I also have created many custom signs requested by my clients ranging from small to signs over 4ft wide. When I’m creating a custom sign, I film the process and put it on my YouTube channel, Interactive Realm, which is also the name of my company. I’m biggest challenge right now is that I have so many orders coming in, I have almost no free time. I try to batch out like signs or crafts to build as many at the same time. This helps out a lot, but I never rush them. And if I’m not happy with the quality of something I’ve created, it does not ship. I will toss it and start over. I’ve recently started another YouTube channel and I’m working on the first video right now. It will be all theme park related crafts and the videos will be more overviews but will contain facts and the history about the ride or attraction the craft or is related to. My first channel will have the more details how-to already. So each video will have a sibling and will attract different audiences.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When friends come to visit, I like to head up the Grand Canyon and / or take a detour on Route 66. I love looking out into the canyon and taking photos. I love it’s vastness and how it looks like a painting. Besides the canyon, I move going to the movies. There’s nothing better than watching a great movie and a huge screen and a awesome sound system. I’m a hockey fan as well, in fact I played street and ice hockey myself during my school years and some after. So heading to West Gate where I can catch a flick or a game and have great food is something I’m always up for. But being the Disney fan I am, and loving road trips, taking a drive down to Anaheim and getting my Disney fix is my favorite thing. I used to live in Huntington Beach, CA so I practically used to live at Disneyland. I have groups of friends that I meet down there often.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to give a shoutout to my friend, Christy! She’s the one who asked me to create that first sign and her continued support, encouragement, and always ebing there when I need ideas or designs to talk about with someone, definitely helped lead me to where I am today. In fact, she herself is now making her own crafts and we’re constantly bouncing ideas off each other. She is a great friend to have!