By: Jen Russon
At first glance, John Parilla’s house looks like any other in the Cypress Run community in Coral Springs. The garage door is wide open, and the red-haired woodworker, with a beard that matches some of the cherry wood stacked in his garage, is busy producing inventory. He said a 2015 Kickstarter campaign helped him finance a CNC router and other high-end equipment. Parilla’s successful crowdfunding campaign is over, but his instructional videos on YouTube are just beginning.
To date, the 28-year-old has produced 37 videos with the most popular “A Shadowbox for my Lego Mini figurines” garnering 2.2 million hits. Other videos depict Parilla making best-selling products, like a “Deathly Hallows engagement box”, apothecary cabinets and cutting boards.
“A lot of people order cutting boards,” he remarked with a laugh.
Parilla crafts other pieces of furniture, as well as curiosities like Harry Potter inspired boxes, on his YouTube channel. He said he had no idea he would eventually bring his craft to life in videos. At first, his goal was to fund superior tooling, enabling him to build wood boxes better and faster. Kickstarter backers loved it as much as Parilla has discovered a love for making informational videos about his art. ParillaWorks offers a variety of unique items, all handmade – this is his career now.
“When I set out to make a video, it isn’t to show you how to make something, so much as it is to show interested people ‘well, this is how I personally make it’. I’ve never had to be a salesperson to move my inventory. My brother – I’m a twin, actually – is better at that than I ever was. I just see my business as the ebb and flow between making things for clients, and producing my videos.”
Growing up in Coral Springs, Parilla attended local public schools until leaving for the University of Florida, and then Virginia, where he worked. He moved back with his wife, Stephanie, when he realized he could turn his woodworking hobby into a career. With a growing family who are expecting a baby girl any day now, Parilla even crafted her a rocking bassinet made of walnut.
He said his interest in woodworking began early in his childhood when he would put Lego’s together. Eventually, he began watching his woodworking mentors, Frank Howarth and Jimmy DiResta educate, entertain and inspire.
“When I watch their videos, I think to myself, these guys could win an award. I try to emulate them in my own work, and I always try to respond – to each comment – on the videos I’ve made.”
Parilla said it’s gratifying when viewers contact him with feedback, and let him know one of his design templates helped them make something, adding that face-to-face feedback is even better.
“There is no greater compliment than when someone comes into the house and admires a piece of my woodworking. They’ll ask, ‘You made that?’, and I’d like to think that they aren’t surprised I could make it, but impressed that I’d want to influence the design around me.”
Influencing design is a long-term goal.
“I love this city and I hope to be a design influence outside my own home; maybe, if it proves worth it to make a lot of inventory, I can do the Coral Springs ArtWalk one spring.”
A spring art show debut might be good timing, since Parilla tends to feel most creative after the winter break. This is when his busy season ends and orders start to die down.
“Last time things quieted down, I came up with a design for this squiggle bench.”
The woodworker offers anyone who’s curious, a seat on his creation – a bench made from mixed woods that are bent and twisted in an intentional, yet organic squiggle design. While such artistry garners views from all over the world, there is, occasionally, someone in the immediate area who takes an interest in his work.
“I have an older gentleman from Eagle Trace, whose been coming over to work on an ongoing project. He likes to use his hands. He was just here today. I did tell him, though, that if my baby girl is born, I might not be home next time.”
YouTube video by John Parilla:
Follow John Parilla on YouTube.
Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.