Laura Zahn

Laura Zahn

Founder


Allied Woodshop

Los Angeles, CA USA


Get some real world experience...I ultimately would have gotten so much more out of my time in school if I had known what I wanted to do and applied my education directly to [my passion].

Videos

Videos

By Roadtrip Nation

Laura Zahn

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01:16
Laura Zahn HighlightInterview Highlight
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07:28
InterviewThe Interview
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02:55
Day In The Life Of A Woodshop OwnerWeb Exclusive
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02:01
My Career PathInterview Excerpt
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00:59
Definition Of SuccessInterview Excerpt
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Challenges Of Starting Your Own Small BusinessInterview Excerpt
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00:30
Behind The Scenes Of Allied WoodshopInterview Excerpt
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Advice for Someone Interested In Woodworking As A CareerInterview Excerpt
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Milestones

Milestones

My road in life took a while to figure out.
She comes from a family where everyone had a talent for making things with their hands—her father was a hobbyist furniture maker and grew up learning from him.
Attended The College of William & Mary, where she received a bachelor’s degree in human biology, and later attended UCLA, where she earned a master’s degree in urban planning.
Early in her career, she worked in climate change policy and as an environmental organizer but ultimately found herself unsatisfied by the work.
Decided to take a year off and attend the College of the Redwoods’ Fine Furniture program in Northern California.
After moving back to Los Angeles, she wanted to find a woodshop collective that would give her access to machines and help her improve her skills.
When she was unable to find a place that met her needs, she decided to open a woodshop of her own.
She continued working her full time job in order to fund this business venture—gradually she made the career transition and launched Allied Woodshop in 2014.
She also teaches woodworking and furniture making classes at California State University, Long Beach.
Keep following my journey
Education

Education

highschool
High School
undergrad
Bachelor
Human Biology
College of William and Mary
certification
Certification/License
Furniture Design and Manufacturing
College of the Redwoods
graduate
Graduate
City/Urban, Community and Regional Planning
University of California-Los Angeles
Career

Career

Founder

I run a community woodshop that offers classes and a collective shop space for LA woodworkers.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Art
Art
Business
Business
Learning / Being Challenged
Learning / Being Challenged

Day to Day

The morning starts by answering emails and interacting with students and clients. I visit the shop to make sure everything is running smoothly. I might empty the dust collectors, purchase sandpaper, prep for an upcoming workshop, or handling shop visits from people who are interested in what we're doing. In addition to the daily work, running my own small business means that there's always a business, legal, or financial matters to deal with. I love the constant challenge.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

You need to know about customer service and have strong communication, problem-solving, financial management, and project planning skills.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for professionals

Know your strengths and weaknesses. Assess what you've liked and disliked about your past jobs. Be honest with yourself. Be very, brutally honest with yourself. Then consider what path you'd like to pursue, and make sure that it's aligned with your strengths and passions. Surround yourself with people who will complement your strengths and weaknesses. Seek input from people with experience in your desired field. Be prepared to work very hard.

Hurdles

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From undefined:

"You don't have what it takes to do this work."

When I was first starting Allied Woodshop, I was meeting with people doing similar work in order to get advice and learn from them. One person I met said this to me and the subtext of it was that I wasn't capable because I was young and a woman. I never let these comments really bother me. I knew that Allied Woodshop would work and that certainty allowed me to persevere.

Challenges I Overcame

Career Change
Career Change

I started out working in climate change policy but was unfulfilled in that line of work. I eventually started making the gradual transition towards opening Allied Woodshop. I was still balancing my full-time job while trying to get the shop started.

Gender Discrimination
Gender Discrimination

I've heard comments like I am not capable of doing this kind of work because I am a woman or how can a woman know how to use tools. I've never really let this kind of negativity bother me.

Financial
Financial

I've always loved to learn and be in the classroom. As a result of all of my schooling, I have a lot of student debt. I've always had to have a job in order to pay the bills, which was a challenge when trying to start Allied Woodshop.