This is our company story (the long version; short version here).
Hi, I'm Geoffrey Franklin. I'm an 8th generation Oregonian, born and raised in Beaverton and Weston, Oregon. I graduated from the University of Oregon Architecture School.
I run Walnut Studiolo with my wife, Valerie. I design and craft all the products in my workshop, and Valerie runs the business side.
In 2008, we moved from the suburbs to the cycling-friendly neighborhood of inner Southeast Portland, Oregon to be closer to our jobs and friends. When I started bicycle commuting to work, I found I wanted things that didn't exist, like old-fashioned leather bar wraps.
I was poring over a book of modern photography of vintage Italian bicycles, when I noticed all the leather accents that must have been nearly 100 years old still looked gorgeous. I couldn't find anything on the market like I wanted, so I decided to create my own unique designs for myself, which I did happily on my own for a while.
Then in 2009, facing the Great Recession, Valerie decided to post some of my creations on Etsy to see what would happen, and we were quickly surprised and excited by the reaction. We owe a great deal to the support of the Portland bicycle community in getting started, in particular BikePortland.org and the BikeCraft festival. In the beginning, we worked on Walnut evenings and weekends while we managed our full-time jobs (me: architecture, Valerie: wind energy development).
When we each lost our jobs due to the recession 18 months apart, each time Walnut was ready to take us on full-time. We grew the business in our home garage, then expanded by taking over every square inch of our house, then we installed a temporary yurt in the backyard.
Fast forward several years, and this is our full-time occupation and we were out of space. We love working together from home, so in January 2016, we moved our home and studio into a space with a bigger workshop on the gorgeous Oregon Coast, fulfilling our lifelong dream of living close to the sea.
Bicycle accessories have always been where we came from, but as the business developed, I came to expand into other fields that I love, like travel games, beer, and architectural accents like drawer handles. I love learning how to work leather as a medium. Eventually I also started enjoying the juxtaposition of leather and wood.
In these products, I'm expressing my love for good design, architectural concepts, and natural materials in products that I use for myself. I design all of the products you see here from scratch and I field-test all my designs until I'm comfortable with them before listing them for sale.
My goal is to make high-quality, beautiful, durable, and most of all functional solutions to everyday problems. Thank you for buying small and handmade. I put my heart in everything I make.
Read what others are saying about us on our Reputation page.
Coming to our area? Check out our local guides to Portland and the Oregon Coast on our Links page.
Learn more about us using the links below:
WALNUT is a registered trademark.
Website content is a registered copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office.
Originally trained as an architect, Geoffrey Franklin practiced architecture until 2015. Check out his architectural design work at www.walnutarchitecture.com.
A professional project manager, Valerie Franklin does some limited outside consulting and freelance writing. Check out her work at valerieschaferfranklin.com.
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