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We interviewed Chris Shelton from Hook Mandolins in Level Cross, NC.
Why do you do what you do?
I have always been interested in how things work. As a kid I was impressed with many people and the skills they had. Whether it was my uncle playing the piano, my brother playing basketball, or my Dad working his rear end off everyday, I watched and I learned and I tried to mimic what I saw. Most of the time I was successful. Woodworking kind of came later.
I got into managing rental properties and had to learn rough carpentry skills real quick. I was self taught initially and then later worked with some professionals and found that I fit right in. I met and became friends with a “real” woodworker. He built (and still does) fine wood furniture and other wood art. Here again I was impressed and learned all I could from him. We would occasionally play music together. He played guitar and I played a cheap 2 point mandolin. I remember telling him, “I want one of those mandolins with the scrolls, but they are so expensive!”
He looked at me and said, “Why don’t you build a mandolin. You have all the tools you need.” I guess I took that as kind of a challenge and about a year later I finished my first F style mandolin. Needless to say I was very proud to play the instrument I made. I soon got to thinking that maybe I could do better on the next mandolin so I made another one and so on and so on. I recently completed my 50th instrument. Hook mandolins are spread pretty much all across the country. They have been on stage with some of the biggest names of country music and bluegrass. I hear instruments I made on the radio now. Thats what keeps me going.
How long have you been doing it?
I have been wood working for over 20 years. I still have all my fingers so I guess I have a knack for keeping them out of the way. At least for now.
What does it mean to you to be Mindful?
I try to put myself in the other guys shoes. I have realized that what I do or say always has a direct affect on who I am dealing with. In my best moments I am able to take this into consideration before I act or talk. I certainly don’t get it every time but I try my best to be mindful.
I remember specifically one instance a man was interested in ordering an Octave Mandolin. He had been trying to find one for a few weeks and was unsuccessful. (These aren’t in your average music store) We had talked on the phone several times and had his custom build all laid out but he hadn’t yet pulled the trigger.
Then one morning he called and said, “I just saw an Octave Mandolin (Name Brand) listed on a listing site. It is a really good price. I have been struggling with this decision. What can you say to help me make a decision on which mandolin I should get?”
I thought for a moment and said, “I am sure the mandolin that was listed is a good one and a good price. I don’t know if the one I will make will sound any better, but I can tell you that I will make it just for you.” He immediately said, “That is exactly what I needed to hear.” He went ahead with the order.
How are you Mindful in your craft?
What do you love about Mindful Supply the brand?
I have talked with the owner. His passion is in this business. It isn't all about the money. It is about quality, respect and vision. That is what it takes to start and keep a business running. It isn't easy. You never stop reaching. I see this in Mindful Supply.
Where is your studio located and please share your contact info for sales:
I work out of a home shop in Level Cross, NC. I also post some videos and photos on my Hook Mandolins Facebook Page.