Autumn Woods Co. Founder Retakes Ownership

Press Release: Autumn Woods Co. Founder Retakes Ownership

By Ryan Herbstsomer, 8 min reading time

I’ve never done things in a way considered “normal,” and this is no exception. From day one, I had a feeling that I would sell Autumn. But until recently, the thought of repurchasing it after 3 years away was a fever dream.  

Transparency is a value of ours that starts with our manufacturing process, team, and products, and continues through our story. In an artistic field, it’s often the story that is just as compelling as the products. 

Today, I’m sharing this story, first and foremost, as proof to other creatives and entrepreneurs that you really can carve your own path. There is no one “right” way. 

the autumn woods co woodworking team

The Short Story

I go into this more in our story, but in an effort of brevity, let’s get caught up. 

2009: First Product

Of all of the traits that I inherited from my grandparents, the two most impactful were full eyebrows and custom woodworking skills. My grandparents and uncle moved in with my family when I was in school, and I found myself tinkering with the shed tools. My first product was a Native American flute, and looking back, if i could make a working flute out of a scrap 2x4, I had nothing to worry about.

I used the same wood lathe that I used for the flutes to turn my first pen. Fast forward to my first craft show and selling pens in questionable paper bags during science class, a business was born.

2014: Going all In

The first years of many businesses are a blur. The IRS asks for a start date, but realistically it’s usually many months or years of putting your head down until you make something that people are willing to buy. 

2014 was the first year that I went all in: no school, no other job. These days looked like turning on the space heater upon waking, bundling up to fingerless gloves, and filling corporate gift orders until the post office shipping cutoff. It was a grind. 

2016: Our first space

After two years of little growth, I presented myself a challenge: sell $100k in a year or shut it down. No one was holding me to this, but I knew we had something, and I needed to figure it out. 

There were two things this year that transformed Autumn Woods from a garage business to a manufacturing company. First, we signed our first lease in January of 2016. This left room for our first employee, Genevieve, a legitimate physical presence, and room for more equipment. 

Second, we bought our first laser engraver. We were working with a local engraving company for every single product, and the pricing just didn’t make sense. Turnaround time was too long, and we needed an in-house solution. 

Our first Epilog Zing 16 gave us the capability to engrave our pens but opened a world of product development in our wooden bottle openers, custom flaksks, and custom notebooks. We use lasers to streamline the production of 90% of our products today, and if we hadn’t rolled the dice on our first machine, I wouldn’t have had a business to sell, much less to buy back. 

2019: A real business 

You guessed it. We figured it out. Over the years we made a few key partnerships and doubled year over year through 2020, planted over 100,000 trees, and worked with some incredible people and brands. 

In my last year with the company, we had a full team of craftspeople, a shipping team, and a full service team.

2020: Exit 

This will always be the year that shook up the world. We were one of the lucky businesses - only seeing about a 10% decrease in sales after the first few months of shutdown. On a personal level, I was starting to work on other business projects and competing in CrossFit. I visited Phoenix to find a place to live, and after peeling the company from my stubborn fingers, it became clear that it ran just as well without me. It was time for something new, for both myself and for Autumn.

What was then Autumn Summer Co. (a tribute to the English translation of my last name), was rebranded as Autumn Woods Co., which admittedly would have made more sense from the start.  

autumn woods co

Different than planned

Autumn’s first three months went as expected. The first Christmas season was solid with a lot of opportunity on the horizon. 

In January 2021, just four months after the ownership change, Autumn lost a key partner, who sold wooden pens, due to a Facebook ad ban. If you know anything about digital marketing, you know that sometimes a big part of your income is in the hands of a major corporation that frankly doesn’t have time to care. There was never a clear reason for the ban, but it knocked out around 25% of sales. 

That year, sales were even year over year, which considering, is a testament to the team that was put in place and their drive to keep everything running. 

In the following years, sales didn’t hold up quite the same. By the end of 2023, Autumn’s sales were at a quarter of that of my last year with the company. 


Quarter four of 2023 was marked with conversations about next steps. I had a vested interest in seeing Autumn do well. My team became my family, the business really had the ability to make an impact, and at the end of the day, it had my name on it.

By January of 2024, two months before this writing, the new ownership was ready to move on. I made one last effort to save the company and took back ownership on January 16th. 

After countless conversations with our operations lead, Tyler, we realized that we needed to do more to give back. The trees that with plant with each product sold is an incredible impact, not only on the environment but on the families employed to plant them. But it didn't click until we realized we needed to combine designs with causes. 

autumn woods co custom engraving

Back to “Why”

Each new design that we make will be paired with a cause. Initially, we’re working with National Parks, The Trevor Project, and United Hatzalah. In essence, each design supports a different charity, with a portion of proceeds going directly to the cause. 

The reality is that there are days when business ownership is exhilarating, and there are days when it can get dull. Businesses are the ultimate change makers in our modern world, and it’s our responsibility to use that power for good. It’s our hope and intention that our customers can use and wear our products with pride and as a way to increase awareness to the causes that mean the most to them. 

We’re on the lookout for our next design and our next cause, intending to have over 20, if not 50 different causes by 2030. If you would like to get involved, we’re an Instagram DM or email away. 

If you’ve stuck it out this far, you’re either on board with the mission, or you’re some form of AI that crawls websites. Either way, thank you for being here. Can’t wait to hear from you.

Leave a comment

Leave a comment

Blog posts