We had the good fortune of connecting with Tina Evangelou and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tina, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I realize I may be one of the exceptions here because though i have undoubtedly found my passion, I am unwilling to take the risk of quitting my steady government job to pursue my passion full time. Believe me, I have spent hours and hours pondering the idea and crunching the numbers over the last few years. I even put myself on the 10 year plan to pay off my property and convert the back half of my house into a rental so I could financially quit my job and pursue woodworking full time. I could do it. Financially, I would survive. With my house paid off, I could make a modest living with my woodworking to pay the rest of my bills, and who knows, maybe eventually even make good money. I’m sure there would be some great benefits and freedoms that I would love. I’m sure I would convince myself that it was the “best decision I ever made,” as you hear many entrepreneurs say about quitting their 9 to 5 in pursuit of their passion career. In the end, I decided that my joy and inspiration for woodwork would change drastically if I depended on it financially. I would have to say “yes” to many jobs I currently decline because they don’t sound fun or challenging enough. I would have to make repetitive projects. Right now my creative freedom in the shop drives my passion and my development. And this depends on my following through with my career in law enforcement until retirement. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to make money with my woodworking, but the fact that I don’t necessarily HAVE to come out ahead by much, allows me an incredible amount of freedom. It allows me to enjoy every moment in my shop because it is a choice. It allows me to help friends and family with projects in exchange for a delicious meal or trade in services. As such, the success of my shop is not defined financially. I do hope to make a little more money woodworking eventually, but for now, I am content having my tools paid for, while I enjoy the process of learning and creating.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I like to think of myself as a creator of functional art. I am a self-taught woodworker and maker. My journey began long before i knew what woodworking was. Growing up without money and with a handy dad, you just sort of learn that you are capable of getting things done on your own. I enjoyed figuring things out. When i bought my first condo, i did all the repairs and upgrades myself, calling on the help and tools of a few close friends. Later when i bought my house, these home projects became more and more complex and i began to acquire my own tools. What began as building a fence and a carport quickly turned into building a bar cabinet, a kitchen table, benches and a chair. The feeling of satisfaction i got from being able to create these things on my own was irreplaceable. My new hobby didn’t turn into a full-on side hustle until I sustained a life-changing back injury while coaching crossfit in 2016. My physically active life of hiking, backpacking, soccer, surfing, and running races abruptly came to an end. With idle hands and a lot of sadness, I ended up making my first cutting board. I posted it on social media where i received accolades and an offer to buy it. That was all it took. I began making small cutting boards and candle holders for friends and family. As i made money, i purchased more tools, nicer tools. Today, I’m still primarily taking orders from friends and family because with limited time, they take priority. That being said, I do sell to people i don’t know and i have a web site where I post my work as it is created. I cannot compete with Target or Amazon, but I am here for those who truly appreciate handmade items that are built to last. I am here for those who want something unique and specific or personalized that can’t be found anywhere else. As is the rage lately, I do make a lot of fun items with a mixture of resin and wood, such as charcuterie boards, bottle openers and even chess and cribbage boards. I love a good challenge and learning new skills so I also appreciate custom requests that push me out of my comfort zone. Most recently, I was asked to replicate a handmade chess piece to replace one that was lost. It was a fun and unique challenge. I did a good job on it and the customer really appreciated my work. You can’t find that kind of service or product on amazon.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My best friend is a runner, so I’d take him to run the stairs up north along the Cardiff campground while i surfed at one of my favorite spots. After properly exercised, we’d either go for the best burger in town (if you know, you know) or head to get tacos and sip tequila at cantina mayahuel. As an outdoor enthusiast i’m sure we would also take a hike at mission trails or maybe even drive out to mount laguna to hit a trail at 6k feet. As you can see, I am back to surfing and a little hiking since the back injury. For me, living in San Diego is all about being active outdoors and eating good food and drinks. There are plenty of great places to do this. Panama 66 in Balboa Park is another favorite, as well as South Beach in Ocean Beach, Thorn St brewery. I could go on and on listing places i want to go after covid restrictions loosen. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many friends and family members who have encouraged me and who continue to encourage me along my creative journey. Some encourage me by telling me my work is beautiful and expressing awe at my skills and dedication; others purchase my work for themselves and as gifts and hire me for custom designs, pushing me out of my comfort zone. But going way back, I would have to give the most credit to my dad and my best friend Sean. My dad unknowingly and effortlessly showed me that we are capable of doing most things with a little effort and interest. Growing up, I can’t remember a time where my family hired anyone to do repairs or work around the house, to include plumbing, electrical and landscaping. Where there’s a will there’s a way. And when you grow up without much money like we did, there’s usually a will (or perhaps more of a need). My dad is an auto-mechanic and my best friend is an electrician with a background in construction. Having these two around to bounce ideas off and to borrow tools from has been instrumental in my growth and confidence as a woodworker. Pretty sure I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if not for them.
Facebook: moonwinks woodworking
I’m sure you can see none of these photos were taken by a professional haha