This article originally published in the May/June 2015 edition of Omaha Home.
With each click of a customer’s “order” button, a Bellevue couple is transforming cluttered spaces across the nation into visions of organized neatness, all with a twist of style.
“I love storage and I hate clutter,” says Lori Weber, one half of the online design duo behind Knotty Pallet.
The idea for their business began out of necessity more than a decade ago. Lori and her husband, Dan, who are both retired Air Force musicians, converted a crate that was used to ship CDs into a conversation piece for their kitchen—a suspended wine rack.
As wine lovers, they needed a place to store their bottles and glasses. “The wine bottles just fit right in the little pallet nooks,” Lori says, “so Dan cut it in half and we just suspended it from there and we’ve had it for 12 years.” Out of necessity grew the roots of a creative business idea. Soon after, friends requested the couple make them a wine rack, too. “We like repurposing things. We were like scavengers. We would find pallets here and there,” she says.
Lori eventually learned when choosing her materials how to pick the diamond in the rough. “You just kind of become a pallet snob,” Lori says. “A lot of people think pallets are really bad,” Dan adds, “but they are actually sometimes made of nice oak.”
They soon moved on to larger pallet projects, such as designing a base for a granite countertop island in the kitchen and a handy shoe organizer for their neighbor. Each item is stained and finished with three coats of environmentally friendly polyurethane. “Everything is basic and simple and it has little nooks,” Lori explains.
The whole family gets involved. Dan does the majority of the construction with help from their two sons while Lori handles the business side of things. The company’s almost overnight popularity has made Dan’s head spin. “It was just all of the sudden order, order, order.” He says. “We’ve been growing and growing. Right now, we’re about three weeks out with our orders.”
After the Knotty Pallet featured a booth at the popular vintage goods festival, Junkstock, their social media took off. “I remember my heart just going ‘ba-boom,’” Lori says. “We went from 400 likes on Facebook to 2,500 overnight.” All of the attention literally crashed her Facebook page. “It was a real eye-opener,” she says.
Each day after returning home from the three-day festival, the Webers worked feverishly through the wee hours of night in creating more items to sell. “We were just like little cobblers out in the garage making more stuff,” Dan says. “We knew were kind of on to something.”
He says they draw a lot of inspiration for their designs from open-ended custom requests. “They don’t really know what they want” beyond the “can you help me organize this” basics. “Then we sit down and come up with a design” based on those needs.
Lori admits that a number of her favorite designs come almost by accident, just like with the wine rack that started it all. “That’s what we strive for,” she says. “Things that look cool, yet serve a purpose.”