Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Rich Neeley, and I’m married to Brenna. We live in Southern California, where we grew up. Brenna graduated with a degree in comparative literature and has had a passion for books since she learned to read. I’ve always wanted to start something and make it my own. So, it only made sense that, less than a year after we got married, we started a small business making iPhone and iPod charging docks from new and vintage books. It’s called Rich Neeley Designs, and I recently made the move to working on my shop full time to create more awesome book magic. Our goal is to bring more books into your life.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I love fishing. Freshwater is my favorite, but I’ll fish anywhere there’s water. Being outdoors really appeals to me. I am also a recent fantasy football addict, which Brenna just loves. She likes video games (she’s a nerd), crafting and reading. Together we go on book hunts, out for great Mexican or Italian food (depending on who wins the coin toss) and take weekend trips with friends.
What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
Rich Neeley: The Rich Neeley Story About Rich Neeley. By Richard Neeley. Just kidding. Brenna’s a better writer, so I’d probably let her title it. She’d call it Everyday Obsession, because when I like something, I tend to fixate on it. She says it’s both my best and worst quality.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Last year we got married and Brenna’s books took over the decoration. Her dad made us bookshelves for the altar, and we had book centerpieces on the tables. Then, in the aftermath, she had piles of leftover books that didn’t make the cut. This inspired me to create our product. I’d had the idea for a long time, but I hadn’t done anything with it. After the wedding I had the time to think and stacks of books to work with.
What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade means connection. Sometimes when Brenna’s wrapping up a book charger for a customer, she’s sad to see it go. It’s impossible not to get attached to something you make by hand. She sometimes wonders where they are and how they look in their new homes. I feel that handmade is more a way of thinking than anything else — it’s the reason I want to talk to customers and answer questions and why we won’t send out anything we don’t love. It represents us. Everyone deserves our best work.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Brenna’s answers to this are mostly authors. And by mostly, I mean all. I’d want to see my dad’s engineering design plans and process. He passed away when I was very young and so I don’t really remember seeing him work or design. We use his drafting table in our studio as a work table, which is pretty special to me. It makes me feel a little connected to him when I work.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
It’s the same for both of us. We have a small oil painting we purchased on our honeymoon. We bought it from an artist at an outdoor art fair.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
I try to get uncreative — I’ll throw little bits of paper at Brenna or I’ll watch a movie or an outdoor survival show. I also like talking to my next-door neighbor Bill — he always has advice on new tools, processes, buildings, and innovations.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
Celebrating the ten year anniversary of you asking me this question!
Still creating and working for myself. Maybe not in the same way or in the same place, but if I can make a living doing whatever new thing I’m excited about, I’ll be good. Etsy has really helped me see that being creative can lead to amazing things. Also I’ll have a pet baby jaguar that never grows up.