Woodworking Alumna Founds Start-up to Support Maker Movement
Date published: Jan. 25, 2017
Celina Muire Farrell, BA ’11, initially planned to take her politics degree and pursue
a career in the same, moving to Austin with that purpose in mind. However, it didn’t
take long for the political world to leave her feeling jaded, so she drew on another
UD experience for inspiration: the one shop class she had taken with Andy Myers, MA
’07 MFA ’09.
“He taught a great class,” said Farrell. “He gave everyone confidence in their first
attempts at woodworking and welding, and even though what I managed to make looked
like a heap of garbage, he still encouraged me. I’d like to think I’ve since honed
my craft, but having a good first experience with woodworking was key in pushing me
to pursue it further.”
And pursue it further she has. In fact, not only is she now a professional woodworker
immersed in the maker movement, she has founded an Austin-based start-up, Hound, to
help other makers hone their crafts and make their livings as well.
As Farrell explained, there has been a significant consumer shift in the last decade
to sustainable products created ethically and within the U.S.: the American-made movement,
which has proven to be much more than a passing fad. Many retailers, including Amazon
Handmade, Etsy, West Elm Local and even Target, now cater to this emerging market.
However, the makers themselves often struggle to keep up with the demand for their
products due to lack of maker resources.
“This means that makers often reach a ‘cap,’ and our goal is to collaborate in order
to succeed beyond that cap,” said Farrell. “A modern maker is not only expected to
master their craft to create great products, but simultaneously be an accountant,
a graphic designer, a marketing expert and a professional photographer. If we truly
want to fortify the maker movement, there needs to be adequate resources for the independent
This is where Hound comes in. Hound incubates these independent manufacturers, providing small business
tools, 3-D printing and studio space in a collaborative environment with branding
consultants, legal services, photography solutions and wholesale resources — thereby
assisting makers in every aspect of business ownership, improving their production
velocity and empowering them to focus more time on their craft.
“The more I talked to other makers in the Austin area, the more I realized we were
all looking for the same things: same resources, same advice, same studio space,”
said Farrell. “It really didn’t matter if you were a woodworker or a ceramist, independent
makers all have the same marketing and small business needs. I received so much support
from the Austin community when I dived into woodworking. So it was almost a no-brainer
to try and open up a makerspace in a city that already understands and cherishes the
Starting Hound in Austin has come with its own set of location-specific problems,
however: it’s expensive to lease commercial property in Austin, and usable square-footage
is, of course, imperative for Hound’s success.
“Sometimes I want to kick myself because Hound could be up and running in a different
city for half the cost,” said Farrell, “but I know Austin’s creative landscape is
the right birth-town for this endeavor.”
Farrell has braved other rough waters as well, including poor feedback from successful
people. She credits her UD training with being able to withstand feedback that was
not helpful and to take into thoughtful consideration that which was.
“Adversity comes in many forms, and it’s important to have unwavering faith in yourself
and others,” said Farrell. “Luckily for me, this was staunchly developed at UD. Also,
you must be able to think for yourself.”
Farrell also played volleyball her first three years at UD and appreciates the poised,
positive character of her coach, Eric Miracle. His uplifting attitude spread itself
throughout the team and is something Farrell and her teammates — many of whom she
still counts among her close friends — persist in carrying with them.
“Challenges to your ideas will make them stronger; challenges to your name will only
hold you back,” she added. “To start a business, all self-doubt must be left behind,
including those who doubt you. Doubt never made anyone money, and has certainly, to
my knowledge, never paid any bills.”
Farrell also credits her well-rounded UD education with giving her the courage to
seek other opportunities outside the discipline of her major.
“Every course I took at UD was structurally sound and meaningful, and that foundation
has contributed greatly to my various career paths, which include legal assistant,
woodworker and entrepreneur,” she said.
A successful Kickstarter campaign and positive feedback from friends, family and other
makers provided the fuel and encouragement Farrell needed to stick with her plan.
Ultimately, the business model is for makers to invest in Hound to foster their small
businesses, and, in turn, Hound will invest in their futures, later providing seed
money if and when they’re ready to venture out on their own and in exchange receiving
a portion of equity in their growing business.
“I’ve garnered a lot of support from local makers, and I look forward to working with
them to redefine the American-made movement,” said Farrell. “I’m excited to see what
the future holds for Hound.”
Photo of Farrell: Josh Fortuna. All photos courtesy of Celina Farrell.