An Interview With WoodSnap Co-Founder Mike Lastrina

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As you may have caught on, I’ve been particularly into printing family photos as of late. In the past, I tended to think that personal photos leaned a bit towards the “tacky” end of the interior design spectrum, but I’ve since realized that this is just plain silly. Our home essentially is part of our family after all (I sure spend more money on it then I do myself), so why not use it as a platform to celebrate our relationships and memories?

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My latest addition to our now-burgeoning collection of family photos? This giddy shot taken by Katie Stoops during our pre-wedding engagement session here in Lynchburg. Those hundred-watt smiles deserve a little moment in the spotlight, don’t you think? And I couldn’t have picked a more suitable medium than WoodSnap.

This was my first time sampling the brand and I’m frankly blown away. They print your favorite Instagram, photo from your desktop or snap from your your cell phone directly onto a wood panel—can you see the wood grain visible below the ink in the at-home product shots below? To give you a bit more background on the creative company, I invited co-founder Mike Lastrina to offer his perspective and personal stories, plus the extra layers that make WoodSnap one of my new fave brands. Take it away Mike…

Woodsnap-12How did WoodSnap come to be? I hear that your business plan was formulated over tacos and beer—what better combo is there? (that last one is rhetorical, by the way.)

In October of 2011, Ricky approached me to discuss the idea of utilizing our printing skills and creating a company that produced custom wall art. Ricky and I wanted to create a new medium to capture a person’s most cherished memories. Wood was the answer as it was completely unique and something that we had a large degree of expertise in. Immediately, we knew that we were on to something huge so we stopped what we were doing, met over tacos and beer and ultimately came up with the name “WoodSnap.” Surprisingly enough, the crisp catchy domain was still available. We trademarked the name, built a make-shift website and launched the business in December of 2011.

What was your motivation for building a brand around printing photos onto wood? Can you explain what attracted you to want to work with wood as a medium?

Ricky and I would meet twice a week in the early morning to discuss creative business ideas to carve out our own niche product. We were both working in the apparel printing world at the time and though it was fun and we met a lot of great people, it did not stimulate our creative drives. We enjoyed what we were doing, but when we came up with WoodSnap, that little spark quickly developed into a fire of passion that you only get once in a lifetime. I don’t believe in destiny, but if you wanted to make a case for it you could use Ricky and I. Our passions, experiences, resources and abilities paved the perfect path to create WoodSnap. We count ourselves very fortunate.

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Describe what your photo-buff consumers get when purchasing from WoodSnap.

WoodSnap captures an individual’s most cherished memories on a new medium. Our most challenging aspect is also our greatest feature; wood grain. We hand-select the perfect wood canvas/wood grain for each photo and illustration. We have an amazing turnaround time for a custom product but the step that takes the longest is matching each photo to the perfect wood grain. Each WoodSnap is completely handcrafted and given individual care and attention at every step. You can print the same photo ten times and they will all be originals since the wood grains will always be slightly different. Talk about originality! Your WoodSnap will always be a 1 of 1.

The WoodSnap staff is made up of wood printing experts. How did you find and build your team? Describe the culture of Team WoodSnap.

It starts with a culture and a distinct, unique vision. We are not a faceless corporation but a passionate, artistic, socially-conscious family that has a passion for printing photo memories on wood. Luckily, we are based out of Southern California so the pool of extremely talented artists and craftsmen was rich. I can’t say enough about our team at WoodSnap. Never underestimate the power of a group of individuals with a singular, united vision that care.

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You’ve worked with some pretty big name brands (ex. Google, Rolling Rock, Sony Pictures, etc.). How did these partnerships come together, and how are they different than working with individual customers?

We have worked very hard to craft a luxury wood printing process that has attracted both laymen and world renowned, top-tier companies alike. From the beginning, we made a commitment with ourselves to always strive for excellence and let everything else take care of itself. That philosophy has really paid off.

We have been very fortunate to partner with a wide variety of industry leaders that want to tap into the movement and vibe we’ve created here at WoodSnap. Truth be told, it’s been a lot of fun watching this company blossom to such a high level. The main difference between our partnerships and consumers is that consumers normally print personal photos whereas our partnerships tend to print illustrations, logos, as well as art. We use the same 10-step printing process and attention to detail for both avenues so logistically they are very similar.

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And finally, tell us about your Roots For Trees initiative, which plants a tree for every WoodSnap product ordered.

We have a passion for eco-friendly products that enhance our lives while never damaging the earth from where they come. Ricky is a true “outdoorsman” and I am an avid surfer, which speaks to only a portion of our concern for the environment. When coming up with the idea for WoodSnap, our largest concern was about deforestation. We were adamant that we only use high-grade birch wood that would not deforest. The type of birch we use is juvenile grown and harvested specifically for high-end cabinetry. Our juvenile birch trees are grown and harvested much like the trees used at a Christmas tree lot. WoodSnap’s Roots for Trees program is our way of giving back. The program works like this; for every WoodSnap purchased, we plant a tree in cooperation with American Forests. We are very proud of Roots for Trees and remain steadfast in our commitment to protecting the earth.

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