Adam and Ana Herring were hoping for a sale one day when they first opened their Etsy shop, Fabberforgelast May.
Just enough to fund an after-expenses dinner every few weeks, Ana said.
But their signs, gadgets, and pretty much everything else you can custom order have caught on. An article on how to measure spaghetti was recently featured in a Buzzfeed article titled “31 Problem-Solving Products You’ll Kick Yourself For If You Don’t Already Own”.
“It’s going really well,” Ana said. “We make enough so I don’t have trouble paying my bills at the end of the month.”
That is enormous for the family of five. Adam is a disabled US Navy veteran and money was tight.
Until they combined Adam’s passion for robotics and then 3D printers with Ana’s Etsy shop she started a few years ago to sell her crochet creations.
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Friends encouraged her to take the big step after seeing the items they were producing on 17 3D printers hidden in their basement in northwest Omaha.
“We have something like a little souvenir shop. Our biggest seller is personalized office signs,” Ana said. “We do some fun stuff.”
Customers will also ask for signs from old TV shows like “Full House” or “The Office.” The couple build things for the home and kitchen, such as the spaghetti knife. A succulent planter looks like a Roman villa.
You don’t have to develop all your ideas yourself. A website, thingiverse.com, is a good source. A friend and neighbor suggested a coronavirus Christmas ornament that became their best seller last year.
“That’s what popularized our store,” Ana said.
3D printing is not a fast process. One of their Roman villa planters less than 6 inches in diameter can take 10 to 20 hours to print. The spaghetti knife, which comes in different colors, takes five hours.
Some of the products in their store have a listing video so you can see how it’s made.
Ana, a native of Brazil who became a US citizen last year, runs the store. She learned how to operate the 3D printer, Adam lent a hand when there were problems with the machines he had assembled himself.
Adam, who is from York, Pennsylvania, was diagnosed with meningoencephalitis in 2007 while attending the Naval Academy. At just 22, he was in a coma for a month and nearly died. In 2012 he received his master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School and studied space systems engineering.
The Navy transferred her to Omaha in 2015, where it was discovered that Adam had also suffered a minor stroke in 2007. Psoriasis flare-ups can make it impossible for him to use his hands.
When Adam retired from the Navy that same year, the couple decided to remain in Omaha. They say it’s great to work with the Veterans Administration and they feel comfortable here.
“We saw that Omaha is a great place to live,” Ana said. “It’s very family-oriented.”
With its inexpensive items, the store is not designed to make big profits. It’s about safety for children Gabriel, 10; Charlotte, 6; and Oliver, 8 months.
“It was really a struggle to pay our mortgage and pay the average bills,” Ana said. “If the car breaks down, we have to put it on the credit card. The store gave us some breathing room.”
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