I met Tonya Maggiacomo earlier this year when she participated in our first 1000 Islands Makers Market. Not only do her creations stand out, but so does her smile. People flocked to her set up and I could tell she was having a blast. I love seeing people doing what they truly feel they are meant to be doing! Her and her partner Lance Guindon, run Island Metal Works out of their home workshop and have been hitting up the vendor circuit like crazy this year! Sometimes you may or may not be ready when your business receives a lot of unexpected attention, but you just have to go with it and enjoy the ride. The quality pieces they produce are absolutely conversation starters, so it’s not surprising that word of mouth has been travelling at lightening speed. I love seeing what they come up with and how there always seems to be an element of delicacy to the boldness of the metal, a balance that is really appealing to their customers.
Have you always been creative? Have you tried other handmade ventures that didn’t click with you the way it has with metal?
Oh heck no! I couldn’t even draw a stick person! But seriously though… now, it’s like the ideas never stop! I honestly have thousands of them that I would love to see what the outcome on metal would end up like 🙂
Do you think there is a stereotype about metal work being a man’s trade?
Yes, but it’s not as bad as it once was. That being said, both men and women still get shocked and impressed that I work with metal. When we’re at events people ask if I’m helping Lance out and I’m like, no, we both do this!! I remember being in the “Man Shop” years ago, before we got into the business, before it was even a thought, I used to be so intimidated by all the tools and machines. Well, it was the “man” shop and to be honest I was absolutely OK with that! But… I guess I decided I needed to be part of it so now it’s just the “Shop.”
When you are working, does the world melt away? Do you think this is why “making” is so addictive to people who dive in?
Absolutely it does! I’m totally in the zone when I’m in the shop. Oddly, it’s my oasis.
Do you listen to music when in your workshop or do you like the quiet?
I sure do and loud! But there are those times I like the quietness, the stillness of the shop in the morning…then about ten minutes later on goes the music.
What was it like making the decision to make this your full time career? Did you KNOW it was the right path or was there uncertainty you had to push through?
Honestly, it just fell into place. It felt natural for me to have it become full-time. Until now though…I’m getting a bit nervous by everything, but I’m totally excited with it to!
Did you have the full support of your spouse? Did you have friends thinking you were crazy?
Yes, 100% and not only because he is my business partner in it. Without one another playing our roles, Island Metal Works would not exist. Together we make it happen! And as for my friends…they know I’m crazy on a regular basis. They are so happy for me, for us.
Are there different aspects of working with metal you are still learning about?
Most defiantly. I’m still learning to weld. Once I get my Certificate, I would LOVE to learn Blacksmithing.
As a business owner what is something that you are very proud of?
My proudest moments actually come from our customers. The amazing compliments, trust, loyalty that comes from them. The way they talk with other people about our work, it’s like they all want to see us grow, our business grow.
You must notice the toll it takes on your body when you have been busy working, there is a lot of hunching over in what you do right?
It really does actually. Also, my lady manicured hands I once had are GONE! They are banged up, cut, bruised, so ugly now lol.
What is something unexpected that has come from being an entrepreneur?
I would have to say befriending other entrepreneurs, it’s like a community, everyone helps one another out! Whether it be from advice-connections-giving new ideas. I never expected that and it’s really amazing.
I’m fairly certain that Tonya and Lance would love some custom orders coming in, fresh ideas for special pieces, it’s exciting to be challenged in your trade! Shoot them a message and they will turn your spark (welding reference intended lol) of an idea into exactly what you want for your home or to gift.
**photos cred to feedthebeardesign.com