Family gift grows into Maine business that mixes driftwood and technology

Posted March 04, 2014, at 12:45 p.m.
Brunswick-based Docksmith crafts docking stations made of driftwood.
Docksmith photo
Brunswick-based Docksmith crafts docking stations made of driftwood.
Brunswick-based Docksmith crafts docking stations made of driftwood.
Docksmith photo
Brunswick-based Docksmith crafts docking stations made of driftwood.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — Katie Francis drew her Aunt Laura’s name in a Christmas swap a few years ago and, remembering that her aunt was a beachcomber, asked her husband, Chris, to make her an electronic docking station from driftwood.

That gift has grown into a business.

Today, driftwood docking stations, crafted by Brunswick-based company Docksmith, are sold in the prestigious Anthropologie catalog, as well as on Etsy and other online retailers.

Prices range from $72 for a single iPhone 4 docking station to $250 for custom pieces.

The company of four — Katie and Chris Francis, Katie’s brother, Lee Goodwin, and his girlfriend, Olivia Turrell — create the docking stations for iPhones, iPads and other electronics, from pieces of driftwood collected from along the Maine coast.

“My husband and I did a bunch of craft shows in Boston to get a pulse on the product and it sold really well,” Katie Francis said by phone Tuesday. “Then we started moving them online, and getting bigger wholesale. And then we got [a contract with] Anthropologie right off the bat.”

Francis said the deal with Anthropologie was “a great confidence booster,” but also risky because the company — now part of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development’s Maine Made program — is so new.

Katie Francis and Lee Goodwin grew up in Harpswell, and Chris Francis was raised in Georgetown, where Turrell spent summers.

The Francis family lived in Boston and Goodwin and Turrell in New York when the business started, but the quartet returned to Maine to start working together about a year ago.

The company employs only the four of them right now, but Francis said she hopes to expand and create more jobs as her parents did when they started Kim’s Crafts in 1988.

“I would love to build a business so we can contribute that way,” she said. “My parents’ business grew and they were able to employ 40 people in the community. I feel like that’s really important for me to eventually be able to do.”

 

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