The tale of this venture begins in early 2019. Donald initially conceived the idea of starting a woodworking business when I was first pregnant with Naomi, and we were trying to design a home-based professional life that would enable us to be present with our future children. Donald had always loved wood projects and was bewildered to see valuable hardwoods (like oak and maple) rotting along roadsides in Connecticut. In his native state of Maine, those logs would have been promptly snatched up to make firewood, lumber, furniture, or even rustic buildings.



The conceptual shape and momentum of this venture progressed along with my pregnancy. Catalyzed by a Tony Robbins live event, we began designing a business that could give us the life we wanted while adding tangible value to the world. Then we got disciplined: auditing our expenses, sketching out a rough business plan on four pieces of coffee-stained paper, moving some money around, benchmarking Etsy sellers, and researching sawmills and other power tools. Once we reached launch velocity, we drove eight hours north to buy a portable sawmill. The plan was for Donald to establish as much of this business as he could while working full-time as an engineer for a large defense contractor, and then he’d quit his job and go all in on woodworking and fathering when my maternity leave ended.


When Donald started sawmilling, friends literally came out of the woodwork to bring over logs and marvel at their unpredictable internal beauty when they were split open. We thought that Donald would need to cut down trees to produce slabs, but we soon learned that our friends and their friends were more than happy to dump their downed trees on our lawn. Everything seemed to be coming together almost magically, and we were still blissfully naïve to the challenges of entrepreneurship and parenthood.



Then Naomi was born in November 2019, dramatically changing our lives, identities, and productivity levels (to put it lightly). While our hearts exploded with love, we felt a variety of emotions as we realized that tiredness would be the norm for a while. Donald managed to get out and cut some slabs when Naomi was 3 days old – mostly to feel a sense of normalcy and control (and to get some space) – but not much progress transpired in the business with a new baby and the holidays.


Fast forward to 2020. As my maternity leave drew to a close, Donald’s friends and colleagues wished him well when he gave his notice, though many did not understand his decision to leave a stable engineering career and become a stay-at-home dad. Nevertheless, Donald weathered the emotions of stepping out of a 10-year professional run and joined me as a full parenting and life design teammate on March 1, 2020.



The first two weeks of our new arrangement, with me working from a home office and Donald caring for Naomi, went great… but then the whole world changed on March 13, 2020 with the declaration of a national emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Anxiety filled the ether, businesses closed abruptly (including Donald’s beloved jiu jitsu gym), the stock market tanked, employees were fired from my company, and we were left trying to make sense of what was going on while juggling a 3 month old baby, a fledgling business, my postpartum hormones, and large amounts of debt.


To be honest, we were pretty depressed and low-energy for the following weeks. But when we had had enough of feeling low, we committed to small actions to make ourselves and others feel better. As we restarted our momentum as a couple, family, and business, slow and steady progress was made as Naomi became slightly more predictable and independent. While Donald had been convinced that this would be an e-commerce business, he kept getting custom orders via word-of-mouth, and he spent most of 2021 making various types of benches, shelves, cutting boards, coffee tables, and dining room tables while optimizing his processes. 



I became pregnant with Arthur in mid-2021, and in parallel, Donald’s business caught the attention of an investor who helped him scale up production with a CNC machine and contract for many restaurant tables. The CNC machine arrived shortly after Arthur’s birth in February 2022, and most of that year was spent fulfilling the restaurant contract and adding additional competencies, such as epoxy and lacquer spraying. After that order was completed in late 2022, Donald felt ready to leverage all the skills and experience he’d gained in the first 3 years of woodworking to create products that best reflected the features of the wood and sell them online. So here we are, in mid-2023, humbled by parenthood and entrepreneurship. We are behind our original timelines but are proud to launch with a much higher quality suite of products than originally intended. Additionally, we have both grown exponentially in creativity, flexibility, and patience, and we are so grateful that you have been a part of our journey 🙂



Hello 🙂 As of June 2023, we are happy to announce that JRV Designs is officially open for business!


As the woodworker’s wife, Alyssa, I’ve had the privilege to witness the evolution of this company, and I’m very proud of Donald’s perseverance and dedication to his craft. It’s impossible to tell the story of this venture without telling the story of our family; the business is so intertwined with our lives that its ebbs and flows often mirror our own individual and collective inner states. I will tell the full story of JRV Designs over several upcoming blog posts, but suffice it to say, we are very excited to have our website running and cutting boards and tables for sale.


Please know that each item on this site was crafted lovingly by Donald from a tree that would have otherwise rotted, and his intention is to create products that enhance our human experiences. We wish you many happy gatherings around tables and meals presented on cutting boards.


With Gratitude,



PS Here’s a pic of Donald and his helper, Kyle, at our first Farmer’s Market