By Dylan Deprey
When it comes to woodworking, Rick Smith can literally build whatever he wants.
A new bed stand for the neighbor? Check!
Speaker boxes for his cousin’s car? Check!
Custom TV stand for the elderly couple down the street? Check!
Like many others during the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith’s career was redirected as people were asked to stay inside during quarantine.
As orders at his local pizza shop, Fladdy’s Pizza slowed down, friends and neighbors began reaching out to him for custom woodworking pieces. He went from flipping pizzas to finishing projects overnight.
“Since the pandemic hit, a lot of people have been needing stuff to try to further their needs,” Smith said. “People became more independent and had a need for me—to build stuff.”
While his official woodworking education goes as far as freshman year, the little he learned about computerized drafting and his self-determination was enough to propel him to work in the home improvement sector earlier in life.
Though he’s strayed away from bigger home renovation projects, his crafting career had come full circle as phone calls and social media requests piled in.
“I was going hard with the pizza, but the pandemic pretty much hurt everything,” he said. “I like to keep it going, keep pushing forward and the people see that you can weather the storm.”
One particular request from a friend set him on another entrepreneurial venture. They needed him to build something that could hold hair extensions while doing feed-in braids.
The feed-in braiding process can last hours on end, and often requires two hands, which makes holding the hair extensions an unnecessary chore.
He did a little research online and went to the drawing board.
“I built it in probably around two hours, and I’m like ‘Is this what you’re looking for?’ and they said it was perfect,” Smith said.
His wife was a hair braider and asked him to make her one. Several days later he went into a beauty store and asked the shop owner what he thought about it. To his surprise, the store wanted to order some.
“It was after that where I started to realize that this was something people needed, and I never would have guessed it,” he said.
Smith’s hair braiding Thinggamajigg had magically taken off in a matter of days.
The hair braiding Thinggamajigg is a stand on wheels, that also rotates at the top. The pre-pulled hair extensions rest along the dowels of the hallowed box on top of the stand. The Thinggamajigg’s spinning ability allows hair braiders to focus more on their client and less finagling with hair extensions.
“If it’s a five to six-hour job, [and] they need something to last that long,” Smith said. “It gives them the ability to have the hair pre-pulled apart and ready to go.”
Smith has kept it colorful with the Thinggamajigg.
Though hair stores prefer the classic black, he said he loves to customize and create themes for his clients. From the obvious sports inspired themes like Packers and Bucks, to the hustler inspired Ardochsho, Goddess of Fortune theme, he’s always looking for new combinations.
Smith said the main selling point has been hair braiding, but the Thinggamajigga was also useful for pretty much any job.
“It’s a multipurpose stand built for anything,” he said. “My guy that does T-shirts uses it to hold all the vinyl pieces, tapes. It’s all sorted and everything he needs is in one area.”
Everything from holding fishing line to showcasing jewelry, the Thinggamajigg really has an infinite amount of uses. Smith said he even built himself one to hold all his tools in his shop.
He said the it was the supporters that kept him going during the pandemic. Some people reached out to buy one just to support, and ended up finding a new use for it later.
“I always have to show the supporters love, because it’s really about them. I just enjoy building things,” he said. “It’s great to have people backing me because Milwaukee supports the real for real.”
For more information visit Rick Smith on social media or call Ricks Pro Workshop 414-552-8786