COVID-19 forced Jarred Green and college students like him across the country to leave their campuses in March and move back home.

Green, who was studying neuroscience at Virginia Tech, left behind a busy Blacksburg social life and a schedule that included attending sporting events, doing research in his major, participating in campus ministries, and spending time with friends.

Back home in Chesapeake, Virginia, he knew he had to figure out a way to fill his newly found free time.

He had a table saw and a passion for craftsmanship. Both became his ticket to a new business venture.

Green noticed a rising popularity in wooden cutting boards and other craft-made products on such websites as Etsy and Pinterest. Using some pieces of wood that he bought at a local home maintenance store, he made five cutting boards in one weekend with his table saw.

“I saw all these hardwood cutting boards made from cherry, maple, and walnut that folks were selling,” Green said. “I was just thinking, ‘that seems like a pretty easy product to make.’ I knew a lot of my mom’s friends might want one. I sold them pretty quick. It just kind of exploded from there.”

Since that weekend, Green’s new woodworking business, Jarred’s Woodworking and Designs, has been booming. In fact, he expanded the meager profit margins he set in the first few weeks of starting the business.

Though the majority of his production consists of cutting boards, word of mouth has been a key tool for his success and has allowed him to expand to different products. To further bolster sales, Green has utilized messaging programs on social media as a form of cold calling.

Jarred Green, a May 2020 graduate of Virginia Tech, works on his wood products at his home in Chesapeake, Virginia. He started a woodworking business after leaving Blacksburg and returning home at the start of the pandemic.
Jarred Green, a May 2020 graduate of Virginia Tech, works on his wood products at his home in Chesapeake, Virginia. He started a woodworking business after leaving Blacksburg and returning home at the start of the pandemic. Photo by Meghan Green.

In addition to cutting boards, he now produces serving trays, decorative wall art, and Adirondack chairs. He will make whatever he can using the tools he has and is even attempting a custom-made countertop.

One measure of his success is the increasing surface area he has commandeered in his parent’s garage. Green’s mom no longer can park her car there. Regardless, she has been supportive of his business from the start.

“I got started and fell in love with getting in the zone and designing and building all sorts of stuff,” Green said. “I love any project where someone has given me a challenge or asked me to create something I have never made before.”

His time at home has allowed him to find a passion for woodworking, and he is eager to work it into his normal life as a side job. The availability of workspace is a major factor in his success, and it has forced Green, who graduated in May from Virginia Tech, to rethink his original plan to find a small apartment and solely pursue neuroscience as a career.  

Green hopes to find a professional position in neuroscience research in Chesapeake or Raleigh, North Carolina. His search for housing along with a steady job in his field of study now includes a hunt for a space where he can continue to develop Jarred’s Woodworking and Designs.

“For the next couple weeks, I really just want to focus on my business and wait for long-term solutions,” Green said. “It has taken up so much more time than I thought it would. I have had so many orders. It has really been a blessing.”

Visit Jarred’s Woodworking & Designs on Facebook or @jmgwoodworking on Instagram.

— Written by Rosie Hutchison, VT University Relations intern