Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Column: Hotty Toddy Hand Crafted

A finished handcrafted pipe made by Dalton Robinson sits on display. Photo courtesy of Dalton Robinson

By Dalton Robinson

Being a successful business owner and student brings along both challenges and joy.

There dozens, if not hundreds, of Ole Miss students who face the challenge of having a job while juggling their course load as a student. I’m a little different from most. Not only do I have a job, but I also own my own business as a way to earn extra income. I do this by making and selling pipes.

Robinson works on the intricate details of one of his pipes. Photo courtesy of Dalton Robinson

As a 22-year old fifth-year senior at one of the largest schools in America, the first idea about what I could do in my free time not originally making handmade tobacco pipes. It started as a de-stressor and something to get my mind off of school. Eventually, it grew into a viable business that has spread from close family and friends to individuals and businesses as far away as Colorado. 

I started by making one pipe to give to my brother as a Christmas gift because I couldn’t afford to buy him anything and loved the outcome of creating a piece of work that I could be proud of. When I began making pipes there were a lot of failed attempts (and I do mean a lot). It took a lot of trials and error to develop a rhythm, and as I did, to really enjoy the process of making them. As I became more comfortable with the materials I was using, I began to experiment with new ones. Starting with wood from the backyard, and ending with antler, copper and Italian Briarwood.

Robinson holds the fruits of his labor. Photo courtesy of Dalton Robinson

As sales began to grow strictly by word of mouth, I began to spend more time on making pipes and less time focusing on classes. 

Unfortunately, It seemed that as production increased, my GPA seemed to decrease along with it. Naturally, this is the greatest challenge for any student who works while going to school. My solution has been to take a break from crafting pipes. That’s one advantage of actually owning my own business. I can start and stop working when I need to. However, this also means that I lose income.

Thankfully, I have a great reason to get back into making pipes again. I have recently gotten engaged, and now need a source of income to help with the honeymoon and all of the other expenses that come along with the wedding day. As readers of HottyToddy.com, I cannot wait for all of you to follow me on the journey of reviving Robison Custom Pipe and Co. 

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