VALLEY, Neb. (KMTV) — Through the pandemic, there's been a shared sense about the importance of supporting small businesses.
An Omaha woman, Emily Hagen, has felt that. And she hasn't just stayed afloat, but her business has grown.
Woodworker Emily Hagen is an archivist of sorts. Instead of documents, the 27-year-old Omaha woman deals in wood.
"Everything that I do, I try to locally source or use recycled lumber," she said.
Emily enjoys sharing the story behind each piece, including a large slab leaning against her workshop wall which came from Boys Town.
"Eventually, it'll become a coffee table or dining table... something of the sort, but what I love about it is when they were developing a portion of Omaha, instead of turning this lumber into firewood, they took it, milled it, and now we're going to make something beautiful out of it, and it'll be a memory for someone forever."
Emily sees what she does as a privilege and treasures how each piece of wood preserves our bonds to the past.
Her own story is also compelling. She recalled the devastating event that changed her life's course.
"My husband and I had a house fire a month after we got married. It was like a whirlwind. And I was super involved in the remodel. At the time, I was on track to go to medical school. And I got involved in the remodel... kind of fell in love with building things, working with my hands. And I was like, 'Wow, this is what I want to do,'" Hagen said.
Emily set out to learn as much as she could about techniques, various tools and supplies, and characteristics of different species of wood. Today, she specializes in live edge and epoxy pieces.
Her work is in homes and businesses in 22 states and Canada. She prefers the personal touch of hand-delivering purchases to customers.
Emily's most significant delivery wasn't a piece of furniture. Two months ago, she welcomed her first child — a boy named Benito. She made several things for his nursery including a side table, bookshelf and name sign.
"You know, he won't keep all of that when he's older, but maybe keep one of the pieces that'll have value and they'll remember Grandma Emily building things. Yea, it's pretty special," she said.
Emily worked throughout her pregnancy because she felt, during the pandemic, her creations could be especially meaningful.
"That's something neat that I've loved is like building things for families to come around and gather around and share time. Or even businesses. Just bring back the quality time of people being together."
If you'd like to connect with Emily Hagen, search Em's Woodwork on your preferred social media platform, or visit Em's Woodwork.
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