Gauri Bansal found her calling on a shelf at Michaels.
“I’ve been looking at this instrument and their woodburning displays for years. And, like, another one of those things — ‘Oh, I’ll do it one day. I’ll do it one day,’ Bansal said. “And then I guess three years ago, that ‘one day’ just happened and I was, like, ‘I’m doing it right now.’ And I picked up the tool. And that was it.”
That moment was transformative.
“It’s given me,” she said, “an identity.”
From that one purchase, GsMade4U was born: Bansal creates art from ordinary household items, burning intricate designs into things like salad servers, trays and picture frames. (She also has a full-time job at the Department of Veterans Affairs.)
It’s not exaggerating to say that, through her craft and business, Bansal has found herself.
Born in India, Bansal was raised to be a wife and mother, and she believed that her happiness would stem from those two roles.
But when her first daughter was born 24 years ago, that sense of completeness Bansal expected just … didn’t come.
So she raised her kids (her second daughter is now 19) and took care of her family, all the while dabbling in various crafts, searching for the one that would be hers.
For a while, it was baking. But she always knew that wasn’t her intended career.
“Before (woodburning), I did not accept myself as an artist,” she said. “I thought whatever I was doing was normal, was everyday, every woman should do it. ‘What am I doing so different?’, you know?”
She tried to make and sell candles, but it was a tedious process, and they weren’t selling well anyway.
Ultimately, it was her older daughter’s own artwork that inspired Bansal’s: After seeing one of her daughter’s pieces, Bansal felt compelled to burn it into wood.
Her daughter drew the art onto a piece of wood and, with her newly purchased tool, Bansal set to work.
“That’s when I found that thing I was looking for,” she said. “And now I realize it’s not just the woodburning, it’s the having of my own business (is) what was missing. Something that is my own. … This is totally mine. I get to say what to do. I get to say what I pick, what to make.”
Now the trick is to make money doing it.
Bansal dreams of being able to make Gs Made For You a full-time enterprise, with multiple employees, accepting and filling custom orders, even furniture. She’d love to make, for example, a wood-burned dining room table.
Her dreams, however, play tug-of-war with reality.
At a time when their kids are grown and Bansal hopes to commit fully to her business, her husband has retirement on his mind. The couple has always traveled and planned to ramp that up when they had more freedom to do so.
So Bansal talks, sometimes, as though her dream is merely a dream.
Her actions say otherwise.
Bansal embraces learning new techniques and exploring new designs. She regularly updates her product line: Her latest projects include trivets and drink coasters.
She’s simultaneously running her website and an Etsy shop, and she’s looking into hiring a marketing expert.
“Now I feel content,” she said, adding, “I am no longer looking for ‘the thing’. Now I know it’s craft. Now I know it’s woodburning.”
“I’m not giving this up.”