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Hometown Heroes: Jeff Mullin, Founder Of Tied Home

Detroit is never short on interesting, talented people to hang with, so we knew it’d be the perfect spot for another round of visits with our Hometown Heroes (i.e., local craftspeople, artists and creatives we admire). Enter: Jeff Mullin, a houseware-maker extraordinaire and founder of Tied Home, a one-stop shop for unique-yet-useful objects with plenty of personality. We met up with him to talk about his day-to-day, the best headphones and retrofuturism, among other things.

Tell us how Tied Home began—have you always been into art and making things?

I studied graphic design in college but have always been drawn to working three dimensionally and making things with my hands. My work still has graphic influence, but I get more satisfaction experimenting and prototyping with tactile materials. I was raised to have a fix-it-yourself attitude by my very creative and entrepreneurial mom. Ultimately, Tied Home is a product of me creating objects that I would want myself—housewares that don’t take themselves so seriously and explore the use of standard materials in unusual ways.

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OK, so what’s a typical day like for you?

I wake up around eight, make coffee and head to the shop. In the morning I’ll check emails, the news, blogs I’m inspired by and make a mental checklist for the day. I try to shop for all the supplies I need on one day so I don’t interrupt production with supply shortages. Then I can stay in the shop the rest of the week, in either design development or fabrication mode.

Anything special you like to have around in the studio while you work?

Comfortable headphones (I wear them at least eight hours a day around the tools), audiobooks, podcasts, KEXP radio and coffee. Lots of coffee.

Tied’s Instagram has some pretty cool references—from vintage NASA laboratory shots to Yamaha helmets. What has been inspiring you these days?

NASA has always been a big inspiration for me. I’ve seen some of their spaceships in person, and I’m in awe of their function over form and patterning with a purpose. Anything science fiction-y and space-related will catch my attention. I’m also a sucker for retrofuturism: the crazy wedge car, airbrushed gold everything—I love how surreal, gaudy, over-the-top images are counterbalanced with minimalism and restraint.

More recently, I’ve become kind of obsessed with miniatures. The details at such a small scale are fascinating. Looking at prop designs has also helped me dive into working with resin and other new materials and techniques.

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Do you have any advice for fellow creatives looking to turn their passion into a business?

Keep a hobby that’s separate from your business. I find it’s very important for me to take time away from my work, which was once my main hobby. The pressures of business can be intense, and setting boundaries is important. Otherwise you’ll end up spending all of your Saturday nights night-sanding and wishing you were doing something else with your life. Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know and ask for help, and don’t let the naysayers get you down.

Jeff and his supercool creations will be at our Detroit store opening party on 10/16 from 6–8pm—make sure to stop by. Plus, get to know more of our Hometown Heroes here.