Elpis and Wood.
It's a name that catches your eye--it stands out along Grand Avenue, different than the other names that border the street.
But it all make sense when you walk inside, and especially when you meet the owner--Blake Paine.
Elpis means "hope" in Greek, and that's where it all began.
When Blake & his business partner Matt Moses, started the live edge furniture company the vision was less business and more social enterprise in concept, marrying a profit motive with social good. They saw it as a hands on place for homeless kids to learn some basic job place skills and work towards a job or qualified referral.
Although the philanthropic heart of it didn't take flight, Blake found that "hope" is still a cornerstone of this company that takes the raw--and turns it into beauty. From coffee tables to dining room tables to console tables--the detail and craft that goes into each individual project speaks to its history--and it's heart.
"When I took on the development of this company I knew I wanted to marry a business to the concept of hope and doing good in the community," Paine said.
Blake, before taking on the Elpis and Wood dream, worked a corporate sales management job and had not worked with wood since high-school. Having a heart for homeless and disenfranchised kids Blake's family(Wife and 5 kids) opened up their home each week to kids who needed a place to go, offering a hot meal and live music and games. It got to the point where over 90 kids showed up at the door each week. Nicknamed "The house of Paine", Paine's house became a community refuge and although most of those kids are grown now, the impact was made.
With this as a driving force and inspiration for Paine, it only made sense to take that motivation and put it into the wood when Elpis and Wood began in a garage at his home in Marysville and then eventually outgrew its walls and moved to its current location in Everett. They have made around 1400 pieces to date and hope to continue adding natural beauty to homes and offices around the US.
"The wood I work with is no different than the kids in our city that need help," Paine said. "I work with wood that would be considered non-functional in the wood industry. It has knots, it has flaws and blemishes. But we work at it and craft this wood into something functional--and beautiful."
And beautiful it is. The locally sourced wood that comes in, ranging from black walnut to maple, both small and large that reach toward the vaulted ceilings, not manicured and with all their imperfections--yet perfectly capable of becoming the satiny, natural modern, perfect creations that grow legs and serve as desks for executives in Seattle or tabletops for your coffee in the Narrative Coffee Cafe downtown or the beautiful places families share lunch together at Providence Hospital at the other end of town.
Ed Lynch, a woodworker and associate at Elpis and Wood for the past four and a half years, can only smile when talking about the company.
"It's hard work and it's patient work. Even drying the wood takes about two years. But I love it here--and I have learned so much," Lynch said.
Hard work and patience are two things--technique to create such beautiful furniture is another.
"Neither Matt nor I knew much about wood working," Paine said with a laugh. "But we had to learn--so we did. It took patience and time, (and our first custom job was a mess), but lots of techniques have been developed over the last 6 years."
Matt Moses has since moved on to his own company titled Worthy Goods, where he specializes in wooden creations that range from mirrors to wall art to other forms of modern home decor--but his vision, along with Blake Paine's, is the reason Elpis is in the name.
"We still donate when we can, like to Cocoon house, or Hope Works" Paine said. "I have a vision to open a space up someday for other artisans to use (ie: A cooperative co-working space of sorts), and to possibly make it a place for people to come and learn some skills or have a place for their handmade goods. There's potential in Everett, and we've always wanted to be part of that."
Elpis and Wood is a company that represents the good here in Jet City. Innovation, entrepreneurial spirits, and the desire to not only become great at your craft--but inspire others to do the same.
It's alive with wood workers, and humanitarians, and second chances--and lots and lots of elpis.