“The way I make money is I use the shop to have access to do my art. Art is a really important part of what I do. To do art, I need a shop; and to make art I need someone paying the bills.” Quill Hyde, owner of Hydmade
ELLISFORDE – Quill Hyde has moved his business, Hydemade, up to Ellisforde.
“I’m really excited, the move was long overdue,” said Hyde. “Like most things, it had to wait for the right moment to come along. I really like Tonasket and wanted to stay there, but all the shops there are paralyzed. This was the only place that came close to meeting the requirements.”
He said although his new shop is about the same size as his last one, “it’s much more flexible and has a lot more potential.”
Part of the potential Hyde envisions is eventually owning the place and turning it into a sculpture art park, complete with a picnic area and possibly an espresso stand.
Hyde has a passion for inspiring kids and sharing his talents by teaching others, so his vision includes the ability to do residencies for young artists.
“My biggest dream is to get kids to use their hands to make stuff,” said Hyde.
For now, Hyde will continue to do what he has worked hard to be able to sustainably do: to have a shop where he can employ people, pay them a realistic wage, and be creative.
“The way I make money is I use the shop to have access to do my art,” said Hyde. “Art is a really important part of what I do. To do art, I need a shop; and to make art I need someone paying the bills.”
Hyde has met those demands by producing furniture, along with retail displays for Alaffia, a beauty and health care company owned by Hyde’s sister, Prairie Rose Hyde and her husband.
“Most of the production we do is pretty cool in its own right,” said Hyde’s office manager Jerushah Ramos. “Alaffia is a fair trade company, and they’re really taking off. The Co-op in Tonasket carries some of their stuff. We make a unique product for them with a really sturdy steel frame and beautiful wood shelves; very real components made into a very real display shelf.”
“Alaffia is amazing, the company is all about empowerment and giving back to the community. They use ingredients from West Africa, and employ women in those communities; women who don’t have family and are lost in the system—-prostitutes or whatever,” said Hyde. “They employ hundreds and hundreds of people, and are getting to a point where they are a 20 million dollar a year company. It’s so good she is sending work my way.”
The work helps keep Hyde’s five employees on the payroll.
“My dream is to have a shop producing a product that if not doing good for the world, at least it is not hurting anything,” said Hyde, adding, “to be able to hire five people in Tonasket is like hiring 40 in New York.”
That’s where Hyde’s last business was, but it took a turn for the worse when the economy collapsed and suddenly the luxury products he was producing were no longer considered necessities.
Hyde grew up “on a ranch on the side of the hill in Molson,” and after graduating from Oroville High School in 1990, he attended Reed College in Oregon. Then he went on to Columbia University in New York for his mechanical engineering degree, and worked for 13 years engineering for Broadway shows.
“I’m not willing to invest in a fantasy anymore, and I don’t have a vision so grand I can’t hold it in my hands,” said Hyde. “ I think we can be competitive; the overhead is low and my employees are talented,” he said of Ephraim Brown, Willie Harrell, Antonio Sanchez and foreman Salem Straub. “I have a very responsible and motivated crew.”
“Quill can pretty much make whatever he wants with his design products,” said Ramos. “He got a plasma cutter, which is a pretty sweet tool that can cut out pretty much any design in metal.”
“I like the freedom to do whatever you want. Like go ahead and set the pony’s head on fire,” Hyde said of his Mer Pony. “Taking the flaming pony to the Okanogan County Fair was one of the most satisfying projects I’ve done. I went there as a kid, and to bring art there that was really unusual was great; to inspire kids to think outside the box.”
“When he came back from the fair, he said he had learned his lesson about letting little boys use the flame controller,” laughed Ramos.
His employees appreciate Hyde’s open hand with his equipment.
“This is the most fun piece of equipment here,” said Brown of the plasma cutter. “Quill gives us access to the equipment for our personal projects, so working here has been a big step up for a lot of people. Quill is awesome.”
“I just tell them don’t hurt yourself, and be as creative as you can be,” said Hyde. “I am really happy with what I am doing. It’s nice to feel like there is a future in it; that is the thing I have been looking for. I’m not trying to extract money from this community by taking jobs, I am trying to bring money into the community. I don’t know what the future holds, but I hope it holds a barista.”