This Is How One Marine Launched A Business Selling Great Knives

Transition

Joel R. Chapman traded-in the security of a steady paycheck, health insurance, meals and military housing he had as a Marine Corporal for art school in New York City. It wasn’t easy. He struggled to make friends and develop his creative side but he eventually found his community and launched a second career as a successful blacksmith forging heirloom knives in Brooklyn, NY.


We caught up with the owner of Chapman Knives about how he turned his weekend hobby into a small business. Here’s how he did it:

Joel standing in his studio located in Bushwick BrooklynHector Rene

HR: After serving in Iraq you used your Post 9/11 G.I. Bill to go to art school in NYC, what was that like?

JRC: The mental shift from the leaving the Marine Corps to attend art school is insane. It's a completely different set of values. The Marine Corps gives you a task and you’re trained to execute that task, yet art school is a place where students are encouraged and graded on their ability to think independently so it was like learning a new language. I had to learn how to take critique instead of take orders. To go from a hyper-masculine mindset to an arguably feminine mindset, I think, is not a mental gymnastic many young Marines are inclined to be very good at.

Joel inspecting a blade.Hector Rene

HR: How do you apply the skills you learned in art school to make handcrafted knives?

JRC: Through art school, I learned how to socialize outside of uniform. This has helped me move forward within my own creative process, and that translates for me into what I'm doing now. Making knives by hand is an art, with histories dating back centuries. It's something that for me, I hate halfway through forging but I have the discipline from the military to finish what I started and the creative and discerning eye from art school to understand what I don't like about an unfinished project.

Hector Rene

HR: What makes a good knife?

JRC: The details you don't see, craftsmanship and quality. It's what a blacksmith does with the metal, it's the heat treating process, the way the knife is sharpened, the metal in the blade and the quality in the materials used. Knives are not shovels. They're not pry bars. They're not screwdrivers. Even within knives, they can be very specific. They're honed for a specific process. You would never bring a chef's knife to the woods. You would never bring a Ka-bar to the kitchen. You have to be intentional in your choice of function before you can choose material or process.

Hector Rene

HR: What advice do you have for veterans who are transitioning into civilian life?

JRC: Getting out was hard, because I lacked purpose. I lacked a community, I had all the people that I knew and loved were thousands of miles away from me, and that was really hard, so I floundered, so it’s important to get out there, try new things, meet new people. Personally, I took up Knifemaking, Alpine Climbing, and Photography. It’s been a way for me to meet new people and make new friends.

Hector Rene

HR: Final thoughts?

I make these knives for the members of my tribe, for my friends and for people like me.

Chapman Knives is a veteran owned and operated knife company that uses American materials to create heirloom blades that are hand-crafted to last generations.

(Department of Defense)

Actor Mark Wahlberg will be visiting troops overseas to plug Wahlburgers, a fast-casual restaurant chain owned by the actor and his two brothers, Donnie Wahlberg, and chef Paul Wahlberg.

Read More Show Less
From left to right: Naval SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher, Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, and Army Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn (DoD photos)

The U.S. military will not disintegrate into an undisciplined horde following President Donald Trump's recent intervention in three war crimes cases, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley assured lawmakers on Wednesday.

Milley was testifying before the House Armed Services Committee when he was pressed by Iraq war veteran Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) about the president's actions in the cases of former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, retired Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, and retired Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher.

Read More Show Less

Taliban fighters attempted to fight their way into Bagram Airfield on Wednesday by invading a medical facility just outside of the base's perimeter, a spokesman for Operation Resolute Support said Wednesday.

J.P. Lawrence of Stars and Stripes and Jim LaPorta of Newsweek first reported that the battle lasted for several hours after using car bombs to attack the hospital, which is near the base's northern corner. Helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft were reportedly used to drop ordnance on the hospital.

Read More Show Less
The welcome sign at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi (Facebook photo)

An armed suspect was taken into custody at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi on Wednesday morning after a brief lockdown period, according to the Texas base's Facebook account.

Though the exact nature of the incident is unclear, base officials wrote that no shots were fired and no injuries were reported.

Read More Show Less
(DoD photo)

Among the dozens of requirements outlined in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act is the requirement for the Secretary of Defense to create a public database for privatized housing complaints.

So, that will be... a lot.

Read More Show Less