Woodlab Designs Wood Stickers in Humboldt County…

One thing that Northern California is known for is its massive number of trees, and in Humboldt County they are massively sized. While out exploring Humboldt, there are also plenty of places to pick up locally made food, drinks, provisions and souvenirs that are unique to the region.

One of the best tangible remembrances you can buy are WoodLab Designs wood stickers. Made of real wood, these stickers are sold at places like Murphy’s Market, Eureka Natural Foods, Infuzions and North Coast Co-op. Using innovative technology, WoodLab has also made thousands of custom wood display cases, signs and other projects for local businesses.

Photos courtesy of WoodLab Designs

WoodLab was started in 2011, about a decade after its founder Jeremy Harris moved to the Lost Coast. As a self-proclaimed “military brat,” Harris and his family moved around a lot, but his grandparents lived in Humboldt (his parents met at Humboldt State University in 1968). He visited them a lot when he was a kid, and eventually moved to Humboldt County in 2003. Harris says he loves “how beautiful it is here, the culture, and the weather works for me.”

Harris went to an art institute after graduating from high school in Los Angeles and worked in a shop, learning how to use woodworking machinery, building and design techniques. After moving to Humboldt, Harris and his former business partner rented a small space in Eureka and invested in a Computer Numeric Control (CNC) router and a few years later a laser machine, “doing stuff no one else knew how to do at the time,” he says. “These machines allow for designs to be created on the computer as drawings then transparent to the machines to cut, carve and engrave limitless designs.”

Photos courtesy of WoodLab Designs

Between Harris’ art school background, securing a shop, setting it up and gaining word-of-mouth, Harris was in business doing custom projects under the name WoodLab Designs. At its launch and before marijuana was legalized, he says, “We were so busy making product displays for the cannabis industry. Everyone wanted something unique. At one time I think we were making products for 50 companies.”

He believes that 90 percent of his business came from the cannabis industry at that time due to the competition in the Emerald Triangle, but things have changed since legalization. “Business was really good back then, but it has flipped on its head. Now, our clientele is closer to 5-10 percent cannabis.”

Photos courtesy of WoodLab Designs

However, WoodLab had built such a name for itself that the rest of the local business community has used them to create custom wood signs and displays for products and services; such work can be found in courthouses, grocery stores, a zoo and companies that sell soaps, chocolate, craft beer and coffee.

Harris figured out how to cut thick veneer wood with an adhesive on the back, and that’s how the wood stickers were born. He admits that he struggled to get the sticker outside of Humboldt County (“we kind of flooded Humboldt for the last 10 years with that,” he says) and now they’re looking into bringing in new technology to improve efficiency.

Photos courtesy of WoodLab Designs

In 2017, Harris moved WoodLab to Arcata and it was around that time when they realized that doing custom work was hard because they had to constantly reinvent the wheel, so they started tailoring their business to get more into manufacturing.

Last summer, they bought another business unrelated to woodwork, called CPR Aquatic. “The previous owners sold small and medium aquariums and they’ve been around since 1987, so we started making that kind of equipment. The tides have shifted; this is what makes sense for us to do. So many of our clients were cannabis-related that when that dropped, we’ve had to figure out how to survive, thrive and expand,” he says.

The Bigfoot and Redwood tree wood stickers are still neck-in-neck in terms of popularity, though. “They’re original designs. Now we have over 150 designs, but Bigfoot and the Redwoods are still the most popular,” he says.

He gets wood from a local supplier who provides FSC-certified sustainable arbor, and then forms it into custom projects and real wood stickers. “My favorite part of the whole thing is getting to be creative. With the equipment we were using, we had to come up with a design strategy that required no hardware and left no groove. We accomplished so many projects in the process of figuring out what clients need and honing my craft to match that.

Two years ago, Harris also started teaching makers and architectural design classes at McKinleyville High School, which he says is the most rewarding job he’s ever had. “My whole thing is I like to stay creative, have something to put my mind to that’s evolving and dialing in the process to make it as efficient as possible.” •

WoodLab Designs • (707) 630-5113 • Find them on Facebook

About Kayla Anderson

Kayla is a freelance writer, marketer and action sports enthusiast who grew up wake-boarding on Lake Shasta and learning to ski at Mt. Lassen. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chico State University and loves to visit her parents in Redding.

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