Finding a Creative Outlet

Walking into the home of Shalmai Keim is like walking into a creative sanctuary. From the pillows on the couch to the art on her wall, Shalmai has put her personal touch onto nearly every aspect of the home she shares with her husband and their two sons. Although she currently resides in Goshen, Indiana, Shalami was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Surrounded by art, she began attending art classes at a very young age. After moving to the United States, Shalmai attended the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale where she studied interior design. Around this time, she discovered her knack for photography and she was intrigued. Up until this point, she had never dreamed of ever selling her artwork for a profit but she started to build a clientele and had the opportunity to do just that. She decided to name her business Love, Shalmai. As many artists do, about a year and a half ago, Shalmai began to experience a creative block with photography, which prompted her to turn to painting as a creative outlet. Shalmai says that painting, specifically watercolor, is very calming for her and it has since become something that she enjoys spending the majority of her time pursuing. 

Shalmai showed her watercolor work for the first time at an art fair in South Bend, Indiana, which attracted significant interest. She has since learned how to combine her photography knowledge with her painting in order to create beautiful art prints. Shalmai is a perfectionist and therefore, she utilizes Photoshop to combine multiple components of different paintings together in order to create the perfect composition. Recently, Shalmai has begun utilizing Etsy to sell her art prints as well as pillows and mugs with her designs on them. What started as a simple creative outlet for Shalmai, unveiled a talent and passion she never knew she had, one that has now become her focus and her future.

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Combining Interests

You can often find 20 year old, Andrew Huff hard at work in the lower level of his grandfather’s barn. Located in the small town of Breman, Indiana, Andrew has transformed the space into his own woodworking studio. For as long as he can remember, Andrew has enjoyed learning how to build new things. In fact, when he was in high school, Andrew took a building trades class in which he was a part of a team that built a house from the ground up. It was during his time in this class that he familiarized himself with power tools and eventually grew very comfortable using them. Andrew often spends his free time riding his long board on various paths in and around Northern Indiana. Four years ago, as a result of this and his new understanding of the necessary equipment, a business idea came to him and he began the process of teaching himself how to build long boards. 

After countless hours spent on product development and perfecting his craft, Huff & Puff Board Company was born. However, it was not until about a year ago that his business really took off and started to gain recognition. With his dog, Blaze as his constant companion, Andrew currently makes approximately twenty boards a week. The process of making longboards requires careful attention to detail. First, Andrew glues several pieces of wood together; once they are dry, he cuts them into thin plies. He proceeds by gluing seven plies together to obtain the correct thickness of the board. Once he has completed this step, he makes a rough cut of the board shape he wants and then runs it through a sander. To finish each board, he seals them with a clear coat and grip and attaches the wheels. Occasionally, Andrew uses a wood burner to create intricate designs on his boards, which add a unique touch to the final product. Andrew currently markets to four different retail shops in Northern Indiana. However, over the next year, Andrew hopes to expand his business by reaching out to additional retailers around the country.  Andrew has found a way to combine both his passion for building things and his passion for longboarding and run a successful business by doing so.

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