June 3, 2014
When Ben Vanden Wymelenberg started to make his own wooden phone cases, he just thought it might be fun to sell it to family and friends: WOODCHUCK was born. Fast forward one year, he runs his own company. “Minneapolis has been an amazing platform for launching my company and will be the platform in which it operates. The creativity, energy, drive, and authenticity of this city is unlike any other I’ve ever been.”
I grew up in a small Wisconsin farm town and from day one was always ready for more and more activity. I moved to the Twin Cities six years ago for a degree in Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Minnesota – falling in love with the campus after my first visit. Day one I was on campus I’d already met more people that lived in my little town back home. I was ready for an epic adventure.
My final year of architecture school I was a young, driven 22 year old undergrad with the aspiration of being an architect. I already had plans to head off to the east coast for grad school to continue my lifelong passion in architecture. One late night in the studio and a few beers in, I came up with the idea of making adhesive wooden phone cases. I stuck a small veneer of wood I had designed on the back of my phone realizing it actually looked pretty awesome. From there, I began to sell to friends and family in hopes I could make a few bucks for groceries. Just one year later, my vision became a reality when I kick started my company WOODCHUCK into something completely unfathomable at the time. Starting off selling just 15 units (thinking I had hit jackpot), then 25, my small start up landed units in over 750 college stores, 25 high-end boutiques, and 1500 target stores – all in under one year. Although the sales were great; it was never really about that. From day one it was about a bigger mission: bringing nature back to people, jobs back to America, and quality products back to consumers. Minneapolis has not only been responsive in helping my young growing company, but has also been instrumental in the brand, its philosophy, and the vision of where it will go.
Minneapolis has been an amazing platform for launching my company and will be the platform in which it operates. The creativity, energy, drive, and authenticity of this city is unlike any other I’ve ever been.
I’m a huge fan of the FREEHOUSE in the north loop district of Minneapolis. I love the atmosphere, people, and the food combinations. And I love the fact that you can actually park there for free as well. (at least I think it’s free… I have yet to be ticketed).