The story of Foxwood Engraving — one of downtown Renton’s newest small businesses — begins well over a decade ago when owner, designer and engraver Joanna Lis turned her jewelry-making hobby into a side hustle.
“It was my creative outlet,” Lis said. “I was making earrings and necklaces and everybody loved it and they were like, ‘Oh, you should sell these on Etsy,’ so I put some stuff out. And then I made my daughter a personalized necklace for graduation, and when I put that out there, it just kind of exploded.”
At the time, Lis had been a senior manager at T-Mobile. She found that her side business that she was running at home — which by the pandemic had included wood and metal engraving — had become big enough to become her full-time gig.
“The business got so busy that I had to make a choice whether I wanted to pursue one or the other,” Lis said. “I loved my [old] job, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something about being your own boss and working for yourself and getting the satisfaction from that.”
Some of the items that Foxwood offers are custom laser engravements for home decor, jewelry and gifts like Christmas ornaments, mugs, cutting boards, coasters, wall art, corporate gifts and book rests, or book valets, which Lis said is one of the most popular items she’s been working on.
“I made over 400 of these guys [and] we actually had to take it offline,” Lis told the Renton Reporter, referring to the Valentine’s Day-themed book valet she was making. Other popular gifts include the personalized pocket necklaces, which can be adorned with birthstones and custom engravings.
Lis said that she couldn’t have made her business what it is without her husband, Krystof, and the occasional help of her adult daughter, Christina.
“While I’m working in the back, she will sit out in the front,” Lis said. “She’s great with the customers.”
Since opening Foxwood Engraving — which takes its name from Lis’ surname meaning “fox” in Polish — the now-brick-and-mortar business has been a welcoming change for Lis, who now has all of her equipment in the back rooms of the store instead of in different rooms throughout her home.
“It’s nice to have the physical presence, nice to interact with customers,” she said. “And one of the things that I’m hoping to do is establish relationships with some of the other businesses in Renton.”