Hi, I’m Keith Griffith, owner of All Things Shaker. At one time, I was the financial director of a $13-billion business and now I make Shaker boxes for a living. That might not seem like the wisest career path but I love what I do and people seem to really like the things I make.
Plus, I have to admit I have a particular fascination for the history behind these wooden items. The Shakers, a religious group in 18th-century England, had some ideals that were quite progressive for their time. They believed in equality of the sexes and a strong bond between individuals and their community. In particular, their sense of community, work ethic, and design has fascinated me for the past 20 years.
The Shakers were also very pragmatic; the quality of their work was a direct reflection of their focus on God. I’m not a really religious person but I respect that kind of dedication. Although there’s nothing terribly creative about making Shaker boxes, but there is a certain elegance to their simplicity.
The creativity comes in the execution of craftsmanship. That’s where I come in. I use special woods (the best I can find) and pay close attention to detail. I spend extra time in the finishing process because that’s what makes the boxes look great and last longer.
I’ve always had a fascination for building things out of wood. As a high school kid, I won awards for making classic furniture pieces. I had my heart set on becoming a furniture maker but my parents convinced me to go off to college. Before I knew it, I had a master’s degree and was running the European finances at a Fortune 50 company.
180-degree career switch
I was relatively big in the corporate world but was never really content with what I was doing. Then one day my wife, unintentionally steered my life in a new direction. She presented me with a unique Christmas gift: a father-son class in Shaker box-making at nearby Canterbury Shaker Village.
This re-ignited my long-lost passion for woodworking. Pretty soon, I was making Shaker boxes for friends and attending crafts fairs. People liked these boxes and I loved to make them. A friend ordered 40 boxes as gifts for his executive team at a West Virginia hospital system.
After that, I was hooked. I formed my own company and starting making Shaker boxes every day. My wife can’t quite believe what I’m doing and neither can I. But here I am. And I’m as happy as I’ve ever been.