Our Story

As told by Justin,

Wooden Writers originally began about 6 years ago in Paul's garage where he lives in Elgin. He has practiced wood carving as a hobby and sold hundreds of wooden pens. He has done multiple handcrafting projects, but the business was partially part-time.

Last year at Northern Illinois University, I took a class on entrepreneurship. It was a small class and it required everyone to make four groups of three or four. Joining my group was Paul Justis and Abe Ashour. The goal of the class was to create a business and implement it as practice of a real life business. I mentioned to my group "We can sell elotes. It's something easy to make and everyone loves elotes." Then Paul mentions that he carves wooden pens and sold over $1,000 worth and I said, "Alright, sounds like we got a business!" During the semester, we had made over $2,000 in revenue by selling in Barsema Hall, the college of business. We had made a huge success in selling handcrafted wooden pens. It took almost every weekend to travel to Paul's garage and manufacture the products. Every weekend was a two-day process to create 10-15 wooden pens. The success of this entrepreneurial project was made through hard work, consistency, patience, passion and strong beliefs. If it wasn't for Paul mentioning wooden pens, we would've been making corn on the cob.

The first pen I carved, I immediately loved how beautiful the thousand year old oak came out. As I assembled my very first pen, I was hooked. Wow! I love to carve. I wanted to do more of it and learn more techniques and that's what I did every weekend. I came up with a theory after carving for the first few times. It's a theory about life. It made sense to me that the first pen a person carves it would tell whether your life is balanced or imbalanced. It would be explained if there were cracks in the wood, if one would carve too hard, too light, or just right. How big the cracks are would show characteristics of impatience. If there are lumps or waves on the wood then that would identify the conflicts in the person's life, things him or herself would have to improve on and fix. I believe this only works the first time one carves because usually the second time you've already gotten good at carving. 

To give a better sense of how passionate I was about this project, I would go to Paul's house every Friday morning. As soon as I would get there I would go straight to his garage and start manufacturing pens. From 11AM to 11PM at night, I am on my feet working till it's time to sleep. Then the next morning, wake up and get back to work. Do it all over again till it's night time again. By then, all that time, just about 15 pens were made. On Sunday morning, we would go back to NIU and I would complete my other assignments. I repeated this process almost every weekend till the fall semester was up.

Now, the business is managed by myself and Paul. Currently creating a kickstarter, we hope to fund and officially launch Wooden Writers. We have expanded the business from Elgin to the City of Chicago. 


Thanks for taking the time to learn about our story!



(The first pen I made. Gun Metal Slimline with Oak. Plus stylus.)



We envision our products to be fully customizable and identifiably unique to it's owners. A signature pen that gives a new meaning to the signature.



We plan on mainly selling the traditional way by traveling on foot and promoting the products business to person. This method was inspired when I traveled to Mexico for my internship with Human Connections. I worked with micro-entrepreneurs such as artisans to help improve their business. I realized how difficult it is for these people to supply, produce, and sell the products on their own. It is an everyday struggle to make a living while balancing family. They don't have much, but it's just enough. They do everything by their own hands and that's what makes their products so valuable. Behind every hand-made product is a story of the artisan.