Not to sound too cheesy with this story, but Raw Urth was created because of a Valentine’s gift, a borrowed camper and a trip to Vegas… in just that order.
The Valentine’s gift was one of those gifts that was a means to an ends, a perfect excuse. Stefan and I had been trying to find a company that could supply unique steel work for our landscape clients in Austin, Texas. At the time, we owned and operated Fluid Designs, a landscape business. I was the designer and Stefan ran the crews. My designs relied heavily on the principle of creating an outdoor environment through the use of hardscapes. Steel was the third element that complemented the stone and wood we had used. The problem, we couldn’t find anyone who made what we were looking for. The solution, make it ourselves. We told each other, Happy Valentine’s. Proceeded to borrow my sister’s camper after dropping the kids off at Nana’s. Then, headed to New Mexico for a week of blacksmithing camp.
We loved everything about that trip: the landscape, the open fires, smell of burning coal and, most of all, how steel can be manipulated and hammered. Our heads were spinning on the long drive back home knowing our paths had made a decisive turn. With an antique anvil bought from a family friend’s garage, a hand crank forge that needed more work than it was worth, a bag of leather gloves (although we could only ever find the left ones) and a couple of hammers, we started playing around with it. It became our passion and our clients couldn’t get enough of this new element.
As many young families do, we bumped around the country looking for the perfect spot to grow our business and raise our kids. Somewhere close to family, steps from the great outdoors. Someplace not too hot so that we could work over an open flame. We landed in an old church outside of Ft. Collins, Colorado and opened Raw Urth Designs. We were determined to be that steel company. The one committed to offering new designs, new twists on ordinary objects. A company that would hire employees as an extension of family and allow them the freedom to be artists in their own right, a company that believes in mutual respect, hard work and low environmental impact – our vision of a custom steel company.
All that said, you may be wondering how a trip to Vegas plays into this story. Actually, it’s two trips to Vegas. Back at the beginning of our story, after the Valentine’s trip but before making home in the old church, Stefan and I headed to Vegas for the International Builders’ Show. We were looking for inspiration and ideas for our house remodeling habit (another story) as well as ideas and products made from steel. After days of walking, bags of pens, countless stickers and yard sticks we were sure that there was a niche for us and our new approach to working with steel at that show.
On our road trip home (major life changing moments seem to happen to us in the car), we made a firm goal that we would really put our hearts and energy into this new business. We planned to leave the landscaping behind. When we felt like we were ready, we would go back to the International Builders’ Show. We would be that booth we had searched the isles for.
It seemed funny as we drove back across the desert, headed back to Vegas for the 2009 International Builders’ Show. Were we kidding ourselves? We built handcrafted pieces in America in a time when that just wasn’t the norm. We were launching our first “production item” because of a “car promise” made years earlier. Range hoods became our product of choice. They were uniquely beautiful – clean modern lines with rustic, timeless finishes in traditional and contemporary collections. We wanted to offer an alternative to stainless steel hoods, copper hoods and traditional wood hoods. Using recycled steel, we built them in a shop that was devoted to reuse/recycle practices and powered through wind energy. We worked with employees that were devoted to making a steel company that was set apart and different.
In short, we created the company we had been looking for. We produced the items we had always hoped to find and were finally headed back to Vegas to offer it to anyone who might be looking. Our hunch was right. Builders, homeowners, architects, designers and other exhibitors in our booth told us again and again that our product was refreshingly new. They found what they had been looking for.Impressed that we made it all in-house, with care and attention to detail, they, like us, appreciated a more human approach to the steel business without mass production and sameness.
So far we have shipped stove hoods from coast to coast. To northern cities and small southern towns each with our signature craftsmanship. We love what we do. Of course, we’ve had a lot of help along the way. We would never pretend that we could have done it alone. We can’t say enough about every person working with us at Raw Urth (check out our bios). Each new person we bring onto our team, shifts and affects the entire balance making us a better and better.
So ends the first chapter of our story. You can be sure however, that we have made many more promises as we drove back from Vegas on that last trip. We have so many new products to build and show you! We want to explore countertops, kitchen islands, fireplace surrounds, outdoor fireplaces, and on and on and on. You can be sure that our core principles will not change. We will bring our designs and products to you, one at a time, skillfully handcrafted and with our unique patina finishes.
– amy + stefan sasick