Brownsburg Woodshop Owner Creates Unique, Custom Pieces & Hosts Workshops For All Skill Levels
Photographer / Amy Payne
Mary Perrin never dreamt she would own a woodshop. However, when she and her husband built a house for their family of three kids, she couldn’t find the exact pub table she wanted for the basement. Growing up as the daughter of a staunch do-it-yourself mother, Perrin decided to make it herself.
“When I built that first table, I was hooked,” Perrin says. “I’d walk around the house and think, oh, I need a media center, or I need a coffee table. Once you do one, it’s addicting. I’m always thinking, what else can I build?”
That thirst to learn and create inspired her to start her own business designing custom woodworking pieces for clients. Her business is called She Wood Know, named after the phrase her family and friends throw around when they can’t figure out a DIY project: “Ask Mary. She would know.”
A woodshop wasn’t always her plan. Perrin taught fourth grade in Brownsburg for eight years before leaving the teaching profession to start a website design business with her husband. As she was raising their three kids and running the business, she and her husband built a house and finished the basement themselves, acquiring tools and learning skills along the way. The pub table she built sparked an interest in tinkering, building and creating.
In 2017, Perrin’s daughter suggested they build some chevron arrows as home décor projects to sell. They sold plenty more than she anticipated. Her daughter off-handedly suggested she start a business.
With the encouragement of her husband and friends, Perrin did just that. She began building and selling custom pieces in October 2017. After overrunning the garage and house with her tools, supplies and projects, and after putting a screw through the hardwood floor in their entryway, her husband finally suggested it was time to find a space.
Perrin opened She Wood Know in Brownsburg’s industrial area off Northfield Drive behind Hoosier Trainer, constructing and building out of that space since February 2018.
Perrin’s custom pieces include tables, desks, shelving, media centers and small home décor. Her claim to fame is she designed and created pieces for Rush Off Main in Brownsburg, including the pub table, bar shelves, hostess stand, a giant Connect 4 game, signs throughout the restaurant, as well as a giant 4.5 x 4.5 foot cube that hangs from the ceiling with hand-painted sports logos on each side.
Her very first client, Adam Cloyd, still raves about the desk Perrin made for him two years ago. As a financial advisor, Cloyd needed a nice-looking standing desk for his office that was both functional and made a statement as he met with clients.
“I wanted something very specific in terms of something that looked nice and professional,” Cloyd says. “And she delivered. The comments I still get on this desk blow me away.”
The standing desk has a base made of pine painted black with a solid maple top with a mahogany stained finish. Cloyd had shopped around and realized he’d have to pay quite a bit for a desk that was good quality. Not only that, but many of the designs weren’t what he wanted. He met with Perrin and explained his needs, and Perrin helped him design the perfect desk for what he was looking for.
“Her attention to detail blows me away,” Cloyd says. “She is so kind and very easy to work with. She genuinely listens to what you want and is a very hardworking person.”
As much as Perrin loves the creating part, she especially loves to see her pieces in use.
“People are sitting at the table I made for Rush Off Main,” Perrin says. “They’re meeting up with their friends and families. They’re relaxing and listening to music and playing trivia. It’s the community those pieces bring once they leave here that I love.”
When the landlord let her know the space right in front of her existing space was open, Perrin snatched it up to open the Creative Studio side, a space for her to finish her projects as well as teach workshops.
Perrin describes herself as a perfectionist when it comes to most things in life. While she gave up perfecting her home and kids a long time ago, she keeps her edge when it comes to her business.
“If it’s not perfect when it goes out my door, it won’t be perfect in their home or office,” she says.
Perrin is already using her work to give back to the community. She’s involved with Habitat for Humanity by participating in their Women’s Build program, where a group of women build a home for other women. With the recent expansion of her business, Creative Studio by She Wood Know, Perrin couldn’t commit to helping with an entire house but desperately wanted to contribute and asked for a smaller project.
The woman selected to receive the home had recently lost her mother and wanted a bench on her front porch in memory of her.
“I told them I’d be honored to make that bench,” Perrin says. “That’s my why. That is why I do what I do. It’s not for the sawdust and sweat or what is back here in my shop. It’s the way it makes people feel when it’s out there.”
Perrin doesn’t just keep her skills to herself. She hosts workshops for the community, teaching others how to use tools, read plans, and most of all, gain confidence in themselves when facing a new challenge. Workshops coming up include a home décor farmhouse tote and a DIY coffee rack. Pieces in the past have even included ideas by customers themselves. If someone approaches Perrin with a custom piece idea, she may suggest simply building a workshop around it.
“It’s about the confidence they build in themselves while they’re here,” Perrin says. “It forces you to work through things and to know you’re smart enough to figure it out. And worst-case scenario is you strip it and rebuild it. It’s try and try again.”
Perrin draws on her teaching experience to create a workshop experience with flexibility, accommodating many different styles and approaches. Some people come and work solo. Others work in pairs. Some blow through the instruction and finish quickly, others are more timid about each step. Instruction comes in the form of a step-by-step packet and assistance from Perrin when needed. Beyond that, approaches vary.
Perrin also rents out the studio space to other artisans who want to teach classes, such as macramé, floral arranging, painting or other creative skills. It’s even for rent simply as an event space for parties, showers or get-togethers. Renters can cater their own food and drinks.
The wide white tables Perrin made for her Creative Studio already have flecks of paint, gouges and nicks all over them. When a friend commented that her tables were getting ruined already, Perrin reassured her that this is exactly what she wanted.
“Over the years, I want these tables to be a mosaic of messes,” Perrin says. “This is like a big-kid playhouse. It’s a creative outlet, a place where people in our community can come and make a mess.”
For more information or to register for classes, visit shewoodknow.com.