Will and Schuyler Anderson are the founders, designers and craftsmen of Salemtown Board Co. in Nashville TN. Starting Salemtown to give back to the community they are a part of, they hire local youth that might otherwise have few opportunities for employment to train and work in their shop. For our very first collaboration we were so excited to work with Will and Schuyler and their team on our custom ambrosia maple and walnut cruiser. Read on to find out more about what drives the brothers to keep pushing Salemtown forward.
Will, we read that you started out studying to be a social worker. When did you decide to deviate from that and start Salemtown? Did you feel like you could make more hands-on change with a company like this?
Previous to Salemtown Board Co. I had worked in a few different varieties of non-profits including social work. When we started the company I was trying to be ferociously practical. In looking around my neighborhood I saw a need for employment and so I did what I could to address that.
Schuyler, when did you join the company and did you also leave a different career path?
I came right out of college. At the time we just had a feature on CBS Sunday morning and were buried in pre-orders.
What’s your process for designing new boards? Do you collaborate on them together?
Our design process is very collaborative. I (Will) do well thinking without parameters. Schuyler works best with defined boundaries. This means I'll have a vague idea of what I want and Schuyler makes it happen.
You seem to really enjoy working together but can working with family also be a challenge?
It is a huge challenge. The key is communication and admitting when you're wrong. When you work with family you can't afford to incur junk in your relationship which means you have to consistently clear the air.
Tell us a little bit about the woods that you use for the boards and how you go about choosing them?
Normally we use Red Oak for our solid cruisers. We are able to source it from right here in Middle Tennessee and we love how vibrant the grain is.
The board that you made for Kindred Black is super special – can you tell us a bit about the wood and why you wanted to use it?
For this project we used Ambrosia Maple and Walnut. We chose those because they are both beautiful hardwoods. The Ambrosia Maple has unique coloring caused by a beetle that eats into the tree. Walnut is a chocolate colored hardwood that always looks good. The two pared together look like a wooden tuxedo.
All of the decks are made by hand in your shop - how many craftsmen do you have in the shop now?
Going into the Holiday season we hire 4 young guys to work for us.
How have you affected the Salemtown community and how do you think it’s affected you?
As a company we strive to create opportunities. We can't create successful young men but we can provide the opportunities for young men to better themselves. I see our impact as bettering the community by giving these young men the opportunities to become the men they hope to be. The community has changed so much about how I see the world and the knee-jerk assumptions I make about people. We have learned that we can't make anyone a success but we can assist those who have a vision for their future and are excited about working to get there.
Why do you think Nashville has become such a major hotspot over the past couple of years?
With Nashville as a hub for the music industry the city naturally draws all types of creative people. Many people here came to play music but ended up doing other cool stuff. The city is also pretty small so its easy to network through the creative community and everyone is really supportive of each other.
How has that affected your business, in both positive and negative ways?
The business is growing in regards to dollars and cents but we also feel the growth pains. We recently moved out of the neighborhood we started in because it has been completely gentrified. The young men we seek to serve through job creation no longer live in the 14 blocks that make up Salemtown.
What’s been the most rewarding thing about Salemtown?
It's incredible to see young men take pride in their work. To have a young man not want to leave at the end of the day because he isn't satisfied with his own work is incredible. When I see that happen I know that they are going to be fine.
Anything exciting on the horizon?
We just moved into a new space and are still getting settled. We now have a retail space and a skatepark in our parking lot. Its the ideal set-up. If you are ever in Nashville come visit us.
If you could expand the company tomorrow, what’s your dream scenario?
I want to be able to hire so many more people. I always have people ask me for work and have to turn them away because I don't have the cash flow. It would also be awesome to be able to hire a full time photographer/videographer to pump out content.
All studio images courtesy of Salemtown Board Co.