JK Creative Wood
JK Creative Wood is located in Kalona, Iowa, the largest Amish settlement west of the Mississippi River. Joel and Karma live and work in the midst of the Amish countryside. They have seven children who are involved in the business in a variety of ways. They have been committed to creating quality wood items since 1981. Their children represent the 6th generation of woodworkers. Joel does all the precision cutting while Karma designs each piece. They enjoy working with wood, a renewable natural resource. The sawdust is used by Amish neighbors who recycle the sawdust for animal bedding and ultimately for natural fertilizers on their fields. Our son who is 16 years old makes these doorstops from the cutting board pieces after they are trimmed.
From an article published in the Press Citizen by Michael Knock:
“Kalona – Woodworking has always been a family affair for Joel and Karma Brokaw. In fact, as owners of JK Creative Wood, 2410 105th St. in rural Kalona, the Brokaws say it’s sometimes hard to tell where business stops and the family begins.
“The children have all just grown up with it,” Joel said. “We’ve always taken them to art fairs where they’ve gotten to meet other artist’s kids. It’s a really good life.”
"The Brokaws are woodworkers. They design and build a line of fine wood products that includes pencil holders, clipboards, letter holders, mouse pads, serving trays, lazy susans, magazine racks, cutting boards and quilt racks. Those products incorporate different types of wood and a variety of designs."
“Each piece is individually designed,” Karma said, “I don’t want to know how long it takes to put one of these things together. If I knew, I’d probably think we weren’t charging enough.”
"It’s a family effort. Karma designs many of the products, while Joel builds them. Each one of the seven Brokaw children, many of whom are home-schooled, also are involved in the business. The roles they play vary with their age, experience and interests."
“The whole clan pitches in with housework and shop work,” Joel Brokaw said. “Everyone has a job to do.”
Justin, 18, does much of the cutting, sanding and gluing, while Kidron, 16, handles the office work in addition to designing many of the products.
Jeremy, 14, helps with tours of the store and woodshop, while Jordan, 12, fixes lunch for everyone most days and Jackson, 8, keeps the shop clean.
Keilah, 5, and Kaylin, 3, entertain customer’s children when they come into the shop, playing with them on the swingset, talking to them, or taking them into the break room to color.
Karma and Joel say the best part of that arrangement is the chance it gives them to be active with their children’s lives. “We’re living the life that old farmers used to live,” Karma Brokaw said. “