To most middle-class teenagers, spending money is a hobby. All those babysitting gigs and first time jobs don’t pay much, but that change usually finds its way into the hands of a cashier in exchange for the latest game system, a trendy outfit, or a night out. To Corkwise creators Jansen Nash, Lindsay Tuck, Rachel Tuck, and Davis Reed, though, giving away money is a hobby. “We are all college students and don’t really have a lot of funds, but we felt really passionate about giving what we had to missions. We wanted to create a way to make money to give away,” explains Lindsay Tuck, a freshman at Trident Tech. Nash, a sophomore at Clemson, adds, “It’s not for more date money or gas money. Every cork board that we sell is more money we can give away.”
Corkwise was born in 2012 on Etsy as a not-for-profit business that uses recycled wine corks to make a variety of artistic and usable products. These products include large cork boards for $50, trivets for $25, and cork pushpins, a set of six goes for $8. Unlike most cork boards, these corks are kept intact, which gives them a stronger aesthetic appeal while also retaining their utilization. All the corks come from local restaurants — which at this time include Opal, Basil, and Red Drum. Corkwise has recycled over 4,000 corks and is looking to keep that number growing by expanding restaurant partnerships. The cork boards are being sold in Mt. Pleasant stores Coastal Cupboard and Out of Hand, as well as on their Etsy page, but the teens are looking for more shop fronts to display their designs.
The three main designs for the large, Charlestonian cork boards are: the Ashley, a checkerboard pattern; the Cooper, with alternating horizontal and vertical corks; and the Kiawah, which displays the corks in lines. The pine and birch frames for the cork boards are hand-cut and stained by Nash in his garage, the Tucks arrange the corks, and Reed helps with both tasks as well as the odd jobs in between. “We are looking to get the word out to local restaurants and stores about what we are doing, not just our products but our mission,” Tuck says.
The idea to donate funds was sparked at a Christian conference, where the group was inspired after seeing thousands of college students giving away their money to charities and organizations that really made a difference in peoples’ lives. Every product sold benefits three Lowcountry charities selected by the philanthropic entrepreneurs. Hotdog Ministries feeds homeless men every week off Meeting Street, Healing Farms works with mentally handicapped young adults, and Water Missions International provides sustainable safe water and sanitation solutions for people in developing countries and disaster areas. To learn more about Corkwise and how you can get involved, visit corkwise.org.