Quality over Quantity

The title says it all. I am going to make some changes to the way I handle my single day classes for next year. Its a bit of a long story, but this is my blog, it’s where I am supposed to tell long stories.

Two years ago I was in a tough spot. I had been blacksmithing profesionaly, but not full time. My full time job was bartending. It was great! Cool place and a fun job. The Blacksmithing Classes and knife sales were just some extra money on the side. However that all changed when the bar I was working at burned to the ground. This was Dec of 2016. Lost my 5 days a week, lost those good good bartending tips, lost a building and location I had grown to think of as a second home. It was heartbreaking.

Anyway I was out of a job, and after a bit I realized I was going to have to make sure this blacksmithing thing could start paying the bills instead of just my bar tabs.

 Me and my mutt zonked out after a Blacksmithing Class.

Me and my mutt zonked out after a Blacksmithing Class.

That brings us to the classes, especially the single days classes. Right now I have 6 people per class, and I often feel like I just bounce from one person to another never having time to step back and look at the overall picture. I also have trouble getting real personal with a student, because I feel like that means I am neglecting someone else. By the end of the day I am so wiped out from talking and forging and dealing with the heat I am usually asleep on the couch by 7pm. I feel like butter scraped over too much bread.

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I’ve worked a ton of other jobs, and one thing I’ve noticed is that when times get lean for a business, owners often make cuts or change policies to save money. Maybe its purchasing a lesser quality of product to pass on to the customer, or removing employee benefits , or whatever. I imagine the people making these decisions always tell themselves it’s a temporary move. Well it almost never is, and over time, after years and years of making these kind of small decisions the overall quality of the product or experience erodes. Often the owners don’t ever see it. I see this urge in my own self, and I know I have to fight it. When money was really tight last year, I found myself occasionally having classes with 7 or 8 folks instead of 6. The urge to purchase lower quality steel for cheaper prices was strong, but I resisted that impulse.

I want to be different in how I run my Forge. Hand crafted goods forged with my sweat and often literally blood were never meant to have their quality sacrificed. If I don’t feel like I am giving each student the attention they need, then I am doing a disservice to them and myself.

For Fucks sake! Our society has been making this kind of decision for decades. Its so bad sometimes I have people look at my work and say things like “I can get that at Wal-Fart for cheaper” Many of us don’t even know what quality looks like anymore!

So here’s the deal. My single day classes will now have only 4 students per class instead of 6. This is going to increase the quality of attention each student receives. I may end up doing a single day class on both Saturday and Sunday though. If I am not so dang beat at the end of a class, I can wake up the next morning and look forward to doing it again!

Here is the downside. I am going to have to raise the price for the classes. Single day classes will now be $125. I am a bit nervous about doing that, but I have to for a number of reasons.

  1. Money. I do still need to make a living. Doing 4 people for $125 is $500 for me. $100 less than I was making. This means we are sharing the burden and sharing is fun, right?

  2. Tariffs! I don’t care what you think of the current political climate. I don’t really care what you think of the past or future political climate either. The reality is that some tariffs have recently been put in place that have doubled the cost of my steel. What was $30 is now $60. As a small business that’s a big hit to my operating costs. I have been told it should only be temporary. See my thoughts on that in the paragraphs above.

  3. There are others smiths in Florida teaching folks how to make knives now. To my knowledge none of them make knives, axes and tools their specialty. If you want a cheaper experience from someone who only makes a knife or axe once a year or so, go for it, have fun. I live this shit. I breath steel, and burnt oil, and seared eyebrows every week! I think that means I can charge just a wee bit more.

Soooo… this policy will go into affect starting in the New Year! Until then you will be able to purchase Gift Cards for the $100 price that will still be honored for all of 2019. Kind of a holiday bargain. Otherwise you can sign up for classes as normal. New blacksmithing classes will be posted at the end of October.

Cheers

Jordan Borstelmann

Crooked Path Forge

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