Jacob Buemi is not yet old enough to drive. But over the course of the last year, this teen has started his own Wausau laser engraving business. And his parents are proud.
The 15-year-old Wausau resident is the creative force behind the Sketch Genie brand of laser-engraved and cut wood, metal, slate, canvas and glass items. Buemi’s business also produces a number of 3D and resin printed toys like snakes. He says his work came from another hobby.
“This started out when I was wanting to be able to cut radio-controlled airplanes out of foam,” Buemi says. “I realized there were other avenues to take this. I started making dog advent calendars for the New Life Pet Adoption Center and gave the proceeds to them. From there I learned more about what a laser cutter can do. This summer we have spent time developing different designs and ways of doing things and are preparing for Art in the Park this year.”
How a teen started a Wausau laser engraving biz
Buemi did not necessarily know what he was doing at first with Sketch Genie. He says he learned a lot on the fly as he built this business, which earned about $2,000 to date.
He built the first laser cutter for his brand which focuses on local designs he himself learned how to do alongside father Sam. Buemi ultimately upgraded to the equipment he has now – which only cost a few hundred dollars.
While Sam says where they are now has been more of a progression than a plan, it is also something Jacob has always had a certain knack for, too.
“When we first moved here when he was 3 we would take him to the art museum downtown, the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum,” he says. Teachers who worked with him loved him and the art he’d produce. I think he has a bright future ahead. He is self-motivated, this is important.”
Aiming for perfection
Sam adds this trait also extends to his son’s experiences in the Boy Scouts of America – where he is at the Eagle rank – and he also sees a lot more maturity in his son than he had at a similar age. Jacob will go through upwards of 50 coasters to get something perfect for someone, has put what he has earned back into the business.
In the future, has nothing else eyed for the profits he is producing beyond putting them back into what he is doing in order to make better products.
“If money is not donated, it goes back into better machines and new materials,” Buemi says. Right now, this is just a very fun thing. I also want to do more online marketing and while sticking to roots of local, maybe spread out more nationwide with Etsy and things like that.”
“I don’t want to be like everyone else”
Though the experience of doing something most adults do not do is sometimes different, Jacob says it does not faze him and is thankful he has a good group of supportive friends now.
“I don’t necessarily want to be like everyone else,” he says. “I try to surround myself with people who try to go for higher goals. So far they’ve given positive feedback and think this is cool.”
Evan J. Pretzer is a contributor to City Pages. He can be reached at [email protected].