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Valhalla Wood Forge
James started Valhalla Wood Forge in 2017. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on Valhalla Wood Forge?
I started Valhalla Wood Forge in 2017 while working full-time as a police officer. Our department was smaller, only seven of us total, we didn’t have full-time detectives so we had to fulfill dual roles as patrol and doing detective level investigations. I was working long hours, investigating a lot of sex crimes, which were taking a huge emotional and mental toll. Additionally, I was (and still am) a Coast Guard reservist, doing law enforcement and search and rescue, so my stress level was very high.
One day, the Police Chief ordered a big wooden flag for like, $500. I remember looking at it and thinking, “I could make that, but better.” So I got some wood, borrowed a circular saw from my parents, and made a flag to donate to my department. The department put a picture of me with the handmade flag on Facebook, and pretty soon, I was getting requests from cops and military buddies for their own flags. For the rest of 2017 and really, the first half of 2018, I didn’t charge much as I was only making 1-2 flags a month. I was having fun and had found a way to unwind and work through a lot of stress, and have my tools get paid for. Score, right?
> Do your homework if you’re going to use outside marketing agencies, and don’t take shortcuts.
Then, in the summer of 2018, the Damascus steel and wood-lined wedding band my wife had bought me from Embr Bands, some company marketed towards men, broke. After doing my research, I found out this company was simply importing cheap rings from China and marking them up, and their reviews were tanking. By that point, I was getting pretty good at woodworking, and again, I thought “I could make that, but better.” So I started making wood rings, combining them with metals or carbon fiber to really strengthen them.
The holiday season of 2018 became very busy, and I found myself working long nights to keep up with demand. I began reading everything I could on SEO and social media, specifically focusing on Instagram. My wife came on board and has a natural eye for product photography. With her product photos, I built an Etsy shop, a Shopify store, and began pushing hard for organic growth on my Instagram page. We went from 100 followers to almost 4K of organic followers seemingly overnight.
2019 exploded further. The typical January slump of handcrafted business didn’t hit me, but instead, almost tripled, and continues to grow each month. I really think this is because I have multiple product lines that do well during different times of the year. I have had to figure out ways to streamline my process, as I still do everything myself. We bought a house that came with an external shop, and I really focused on making a space that furthered efficiency. I began batch ordering materials to fulfill orders in groups. I bought a CNC machine to help carve flags, and upgraded my lathe to a metal lathe and got faster at my process. And recently, I hired a buddy to help me with physically fulfilling orders so I can keep scaling up without spending all my free time in the shop.