The Grind

By Evelyn Helminen

I’ve always wanted to own my own business. You might say it runs in the family. Similar to how a singer might have a child who is a singer, or a doctor’s child might become a doctor, or… you get the point. It seems that whatever your parents are, that is the easiest thing to “become.” It’s what you see and experience and learn about the most as you grow up, so more often than not, you’ll see people of the same profession emerge out of the family tree.

Tudo Azul custom cutting boards and butcher blocks
Tudo Azul is a small veteran-owned business that makes custom cutting boards, butcher blocks, serving trays, and more homemade wooden items for the home and bath.

Case(s) in point:

My mom owns her own print shop. My dad runs his own charter fishing company. My sister owns her own graphic design firm. My brother is opening a garlic farm. My other brother runs his own carpentry business. My other brother has a metalworking business. My other brother… again, you get the point. (The other thing to note here is that I come from a super large family. We’ll get into that another time.)

I’ve been trying for my entire life to find something to do to make money and work completely for myself. My goal has always been to stay out of the “rat race,” or at least try not to get too sucked into a job, working for “the man.” But it wasn’t until Tudo Azul (which includes Tazboards and Tazboardspyro) that I finally feel like it’s possible. This is it. It’s working.

Custom Cutting Boards by Tazboards
The cutting boards are now coming out of our ears (or at the very least taking up our entire kitchen table)

Here’s what was missing before: focus, determination, confidence, drive, dedication, that ever-elusive “stick-to-it-ive-ness,” and the secret ingredient that I lacked in every single other endeavor I ever tried: someone else backing me up, helping me out, pushing me, and most importantly, working with me to make it happen.

TJ and I are in this together. Our small business, Tudo Azul, wouldn’t work without both of us bringing our unique skills and ideas to the table. I would have given up multiple times without TJ’s encouragement. And without his unwavering belief in my abilities I’d still be playing small, trying to burn simple designs with a cheap wood burning pen with ill-fitting tips. Instead, I am continually going outside of my comfort zone to see what else I can create, through both pyrography (now with a much fancier wood burning pen) and our CNC router (an item which I would never have bought on my own.)

Tazboardspyro with Old Pyrography Pen
The old woodburning pen I used to use
Tazboardspyro and a custom pyrography Train
I went from pyrography stick figures to intricate and detailed pieces of art like this Amtrak train

And TJ… well, I’ll let him tell it in his own words in a future post, but one thing I know for a fact I have contributed to his entrepreneurial mindset is the phrase, “Put your boots on, babe,” which is something I told him one cold California day when he was reluctant to go out into the wood shop.

So we are in the midst of running our small business. We both have full-time day jobs. We both come home from work and go straight into the wood shop to fill orders. We both go to bed exhausted. We both spend the majority of our weekends making cutting boards. We both run into problems and are constantly trouble-shooting and fixing and learning.

We both miss Saturdays with nothing to do, making and eating leisurely dinners, Sundays watching TV or reading, and whatever hobbies we used to have.

But we also both love what we are building. We love the opportunity to be creative. We feel blessed beyond measure to be able to share our work with the world and get paid for it. We are excited for what the future will bring for Tudo Azul. Tazboards and Tazboardspyro are just the beginning. We envision a bigger company with more offerings. Taz Soap, Taz Beer, Taz Wine, Taz Tee’s, Taz Hats, Taz Socks, Taz Bowls, Taz Signs, a bar and grill (the original Tudo Azul idea), Taz Everything!

In the meantime, we are out here every day, grinding. Working hard to become an overnight success in ten or fifteen years. And we’re grateful. Grateful for you, our customers, who believe in us and love our products. Grateful for our celebrity influencers who have helped us spread the word. Grateful for our friends and family who have cheered us on from the sidelines. Grateful for our two fur babies who remind us we need to take a break to PLAY! Grateful for each other. And grateful to God for giving us the ability to go after our dreams.