If you've ever sat over a perfect cup of coffee and slice of pie with the ideal flaky, buttery crust and wondered how much effort it would take to get everything just right on your own, you may have the soul of a craftsman waiting to be unleashed. Enter Soulcrafting, a new company devoted to providing customers with experiences and guidance to fill the little voids in life. (You're on your own for the big void.) If taking a guided tour of coffee varieties complete with demonstrations of how to brew them properly, learning how to make goat cheese from a farmer, or getting cooking lessons from a professional chef in your own kitchen are experiences you've been craving, Soulcrafting has gathered them all in one on-line marketplace.
Soulcrafting contracts with skilled professionals in many areas of expertise (not just food; you could learn how to make a table or build your own custom bicycle) to offer guided lessons of various levels -- demonstrations, hands-on classes and one-on-one instruction -- for customers looking to learn from the experts. And if the list of available craftspeople and lessons don't quite fit your goals, Soulcrafting also offers a "concierge" service that will seek out a professional to match up with your desired experience. For example, founder Bryan Muir recently matched up a customer who wanted to build a hammer dulcimer with a musical instrument builder willing to give it a go.
Muir opened Soulcrafting in February with the intent of connecting experts and craftspeople with customers looking for guidance and education. More than just a foodie looking to cash in on hot culinary trends, Muir is a tech and media entrepreneur who studied expert networks while at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for post-graduate studies. "There are all sorts of fascinating examples of entrepreneurs using the Internet to connect people who have valuable knowledge and information with those who need it," says Muir. " Soulcrafting is an offshoot of that research, but the idea didn't begin to crystallize until after I moved to Colorado from Brooklyn last September."
Muir says Colorado is the perfect place for his company because of the state's "hands-on, active, and engaged culture" combined with "vibrant start-up ecosystems in Boulder, Denver, and beyond." The people of Colorado are moving, he explains, from a "where can I buy that?" mentality to "where can I learn how to make that?"
Food experiences currently available include pie-making, craft cocktails, dietary planning with an emphasis on food sensitivity, wine-making and more. Muir will soon be adding a brewing experience with employees from Upslope Brewing in Boulder and cheese-making classes with farmer Michael Amen of the Ugly Goat Milk Company.
Amen says he signed on with Soulcrafting because with the demands of running a farm and raising goats, he hasn't had time to advertise. He was already offering classes, but Muir's company gives his expertise wider exposure to interested clients. The goat farmer plans to offer cheese-making lessons to couples or small groups with a farm brunch or dinner included in the cost, and customers will get to keep the cheese they make during the class.
Chef Angie Spuzak of Angie's Secret Garden is a holistic personal chef who says she wants "to help people feel better through food." She focuses on teaching customers with dietary restrictions and health concerns to cook for themselves using 100 percent organic ingredients. Her passion, she says, is for raw food, and she loves showing people how to make her raw chocolate and cashew ganache.
Keeping reading for more about Soulcrafting...
Tracy Eliasson of Settembre Cellars in Boulder says signing up with her winery will get you, for example, a barrel-topping session where you'll be able to taste wines at various stages of maturation on oak. Customers will also receive a bottle of wine at the time of the session and another bottle 18 to 24 months later. Eliasson, who actually contacted Soulcrafting after reading about the newly formed company because she wanted to offer customers "high-quality and interesting experiences," says she hopes to add wine-making classes where customers will eventually be able to keep a portion of a barrel they helped create over the course of several sessions.
Muir's own experiences have gone into shaping his company. He moved to Colorado just as the state was experiencing heavy flooding, and his new home suffered damage. "There was a lot of work to do, but hiring someone to do it all -- and essentially remaining in the dark and ignorant of the skills required to fix it -- didn't feel right," he says. Instead, he looked for craftsmen who were also talented teachers who were willing to help him learn to do some of the work himself.
Muir has worked directly with many of the experts he hires for Soulcrafting; his favorite experiences have been building a table with his girlfriend and working with chefs as we;; as a letterpress expert. He's also looking forward to the classes and farm-to-table dinner at the Ugly Goat Dairy. "It's incredibly addictive and energizing and fun," he concludes.
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Soulcrafting experiences can be as little as $20 a person for a guided coffee tasting -- or "cupping" as the experts call it -- with Huckleberry Roasters, but they also range much higher. An in-home cooking session with chef Katie Baum of Local Eat + Drinks starts at $150 for groups of one to three customers or $250 for groups of four or more, depending on the menu you help select.