Having forgotten a spoon for his lunch in the late 1970s while apprenticing for a furniture producer, Jonathan Simons crafted a makeshift spoon from wood.
This later inspired his wooden spoon business as a sole proprietor until 1986, when he began operating as Jonathan’s Spoons.
Today, spoons and other food and meal preparation tools span several businesses and product lines run by employees at the Albany Township operation, including family members. Wife, Julia Edgerton Simons, handles the websites, and 21-year-old daughter Erin Simons does office work and focuses on product placement at small, local events such as farmers markets.
The spoons and other utensils stand out with their Pennsylvania-sourced lumber, poignant color, aesthetic allure and unusual shapes combined with functionality and ergonomic intelligence.
“All of his pieces are contoured to fit your hand so nicely,” said Carol Wozniak of Boyertown.
RACHAEL RAY CONNECTION
When now-famed cook Rachael Ray first appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” a Winfrey staff member called to have Simons’ Lazy Spoon overnighted for a taping the next day. Sales jumped immediately and have remained at that level.
Ray asked permission to produce and sell several versions of the style, which lets a utensil sit on the side of a pot on the stove as it cooks.
She pays royalties on the spoons which are now sold in plastic form in Kohl’s, Wal-Mart and on amazon.com, and Jonathan Simons said she’s been very good to him and his employees.
Wozniak discovered a Jonathan’s Spoons stand three years ago at a juried craft show called Der Belsnickel hosted by the Boyertown Area Historical Society.
She’s used his cherry wood utensils for herself and as gifts.
“They’re great because they don’t scratch my Teflon pans,” she said.
“… My first purchase was the toaster tongs, really cool, to avoid digging into the toaster with fingers and burning yourself.”
OUTSIDE THE KITCHEN
In 2011, the captivating aspects of Simons’ food-specific pieces began to stir inspiration away from the stove and sink.
“One of my daughters said, ‘Dad, why don’t you make iPhone stands? … And we started Hannah’s Ideas in Wood,” Simons said.
Hannah Simons has a largely wholesale market online and participates in shows, while her dad’s businesses do about 80 percent of sales at major craft shows, often out-of-state, and the remainder online.
She makes lines of coasters, vases, bookends, book and tablet stands, hair sticks, pocket mirrors, yarn boxes, holiday décor and combs for long hair, beards and mustaches.
GO-TO GIFT SOURCE
Michelle Chapin of Bryn Athyn, Montgomery County, is a repeat customer of Hannah Simons.
A jewelry box and light-switch covers are some of what Chapin has ordered from Hannah’s Ideas in Wood.
“When I don’t know what to get someone as a gift, I can go to her shop and order pretty much anything,” Chapin said.
This year, Simons and son-in-law Scott Maddock started www.treespoons.com. The line’s spatulas are thinner with more cut-out sections involved and special focus on decorative appeal.
Some are black or deep brown through a charcoal effect.
The Tree Spoons line is slated to transition to a new name of Jonathan’s Family Spoons and also will be sold on amazon.com.
Designs at www.moonspoon.com incorporate cut-out sections of shapes such as moons, stars, hearts and abstract lines at the ends of handles.
Yet another line, www.teatangent.com, focuses on what tea drinkers would appreciate.
Simons said he has seen success and gratitude with family and other employees.
“I let employees set their own hours, as long as they meet their deadlines,” he said.