Bill Lewandowski says some of his fondest memories of high school are his experiences in Multimedia class. It’s for good reason. He earned many accolades for his work. Lewandowski and classmate Todd Thompson took first place in the SkillsUSA Ohio TV/Video Production contest. They placed 5th in the country at the SkillsUSA National Conference. They also earned scholarships from the Ohio Attorney General in a state-wide video contest.
The 2010 graduate of the Ashtabula County Technical & Career Campus (A-Tech) and Pymatuning Valley High School says those experiences in Multimedia class, offered through A-Tech, gave him the confidence to turn a wood-working hobby into a successful business.
With his wife Olivia, he operates Meraki Living, a furniture restoration, woodcraft and remodeling business in Ashtabula County.
But how do the technical skills he learned in a Multimedia program lead to refinishing and building furniture?
“My experience with lighting, Photoshop, and advertising has jump started Meraki Living. The (Multimedia) program gave me the essential skills to create a professional website and maintain a professional presence on social media,” said Lewandowski.
Those skills enable Lewandowski to reach customers who live hundreds of miles away from his workshop in Plymouth Township. He has restored furniture and delivered it to customers all over Northeast Ohio, and as far away as Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Delaware.
The woodworking skills? Those came from years of learning the trade from his grandfather, beginning with a birdhouse they built for his grandmother when Bill was about 10 years-old.
“It started with him showing me how to read a tape measure, drawing and planning out what we wanted to build and how we wanted it to look,” Bill said.
“Most importantly, he instilled in me to respect my tools and be fully aware of what I was doing when using them and the danger they posed if used incorrectly. (Building the birdhouse) is one of my most vividly remembered days from childhood. It truly sparked a flame inside for the desire to craft things and bring happiness to others in doing so.”
Since starting the business, the Lewandowskis have restored dining room sets, bedroom sets, shelves, hardwood floors and much more.
“Our love and passion for what we do is translated into our work. Olivia has a gift in that she sees the potential in a dated piece and has a vision for a new life for it,” he said.
They have a store in Mentor, which is open by appointment only. But thanks to what Bill learned in his A-Tech Multimedia class, you can also view some of his restored and original pieces for sale on his website: www.merakilivingohio.com