Some might have thought I was crazy when I ordered a very large piece of machinery from the other side of the country when I was 7 months pregnant with my second baby with a 1.5 year old at home. Heck. Even I thought I was a little nuts!
One of the most popular questions I get asked is "How in the world did you get into plasma cutting?" So here's the story...
While most people use their downtime to relax, my husband would always be tinkering around in his garage by day and watch YouTube videos on build things by night. From scratch, he built this thing called a "plasma table" to cut machine parts out on. It looked cool and was pretty impressive that he was able to do something like that, but that's all it was to me. Nothing more.
He would say to me, "You know, Leah, you can cut other things out on this table and sell the things you make", but I didn't get it. I couldn't visualize what he was talking about.... Until I ordered an ornament for Christmas as a gift for my in laws.
The ornament came in the mail and I opened it up. The most literal version of a lightbulb going off in my brain happened at that moment.
I looked at Matt an asked if he could cut something like this (it was a shape of Florida) on this table. I'm sure he was thinking, "Duh, Leah, I've been telling you this for a year." But he respectfully just said yes.
This lightbulb moment was on Dec. 15, 2016. I called my brother (who's a phenomenal graphic designer) to whip up a Pennsylvania ornament design and worked with Matt over the next couple days to try to make an ornament. Within 72 hours I posted this ornament on my personal social media pages and said it was for sale, but you had to buy it over the weekend to get it by Christmas. And sales. blew. up. Cue: Panic.
I worked my booty off to get every single ornament out the door in time for Christmas. It felt so good to have an idea and for it to come to reality like that.
But here's where the story takes a sad little turn.... I was feeling pretty proud of myself for making this whole last-minute-ornament-thing happen, when I got a notification that someone posted a public review of my product on my Etsy page. I opened up the notification and tears started flowing. This customer took extra time to really rip me and my new baby business apart, saying awful things about the ornaments she received. I was devastated. And embarrassed. And it was that review that I almost gave the power to derail KSCo. permanently. In fact, I allowed it to set me back about 6 months, honestly.
She wasn't necessarily wrong. The table that my husband built was meant for machine parts, not ornaments that are a little more intricately cut. I was also extremely new to this whole thing and I hadn't learned how to finish the products properly yet. I was proud of what I pulled off, but there was certainly signficant room for improvement.
For the first 6 months of 2017, I couldn't shake the idea of Keystone Steel and what it could be, but I also couldn't shake that review. I would research aspects of the business endlessly, but every time I got close to pulling the trigger on jumping head first, I'd think about that review. I know! It sounds crazy typing that now, in January of 2019, but it's really what happened.
I woke up in June, annoyed with myself that I let ONE SINGULAR review have that kind of impact on a dream of mine, and decided to throw caution to the wind and buy a plasma table that would work well for all the things I wanted to make. I signed the loan papers, arranged the shipping from Nevada and waited 3 months for that beautiful machine to arrive at my shop's doorstep. It was one of the best days of my life (and that's not being dramatic).
From that point on, I hit the ground running and haven't stopped since. Keystone Steel Co. has been an amazing blessing to me and my family.