From Doctor to Artisan
Michael LeWitt MD practiced as an ER physician and helped set up two Emergency Medicine residency programs during his years of patient care. He has now replaced the fast pace of emergency medicine with a woodworking craft that has grown into a business that he takes pride in.
Dr. LeWitt had been collecting kaleidoscopes for years. His wife and daughter were on a vacation in Arizona when they visited a small shop looking for a souvenir kaleidoscope to buy for him. They were directed to another store, about an hour away. It turns out that the other shop is the largest kaleidoscope retailer in the US. They bought a few souvenir kaleidoscopes and also learned of an event sponsored by the shop, Nellie Bly week. This event, held with a different theme each year, allows amateurs to build kaleidoscopes along with skilled artisans. Dr. LeWitt had no experience in woodworking, but was intrigued by the idea. He attended the event a few years in a row, and then decided to attempt to work on his own.
Back home in Philadelphia he discovered an open woodshop that holds classes. He joined and took about 15 courses in woodworking. Over time, Dr. LeWitt worked on learning how to craft a variety of pieces, most of which he would give to family and friends as gifts.
Eventually, he started selling a few of his hand made designs. He began by directly pitching to retailers that carried high quality, unique handmade items. He started taking orders for pieces and has expanded the number of shops that he works with. Dr. LeWitt explains that, while he works at a fairly leisurely pace and does not produce in high volume, his profits have netted enough to cover the cost of the woodworking courses he took and all of the materials that he purchases.
Dr. LeWitt now has an Etsy page, and he is truly having fun in his retirement. This work is a complete change of pace, and he says that the challenge of his artwork has replaced medicine for him. Some photos below and Etsy page is MikeLWoodcrafts, FWIW
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