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By Caroline Spivack
A local craftsmen is building a furniture-making empire — all before his 17th birthday.
Sunset Parker Gabriel Pena began experimenting with crafts as a child — and now at 16 he runs The Boss Workshop in the basement of his family’s Sixth Avenue home. What started as a hobby morphed into a business when he realized he could make some scratch helping people maximize space in their cramped Brooklyn apartments, the artisan said.
“I like taking an idea and building it into something that fixes a problem for someone else or myself,” said Pena. “People kept coming to me with different needs and it sparked ideas, so I had to start selling things to help people.”
The Sunset Park High School 12th-grader is entirely self-taught — he was building his own skateboards by age 8, but really started hammering away at 14, when he needed a computer desk that didn’t take up a lot of space and he embraced the old adage, “if you want something done right, do it yourself.”
That first real project sparked an insatiable urge to construct bigger and a more complex creations, and now he spends all his spare time crafting Murphy beds, tables, and stools, said his sister.
“He is completely focused. He will not get distracted. If you even try and talk to him he says, ‘I am at work. I’m working,’” said older sister Mariel Pena. “He truly believes this is his job. He’s really passionate about it.”
Pena has made 50 pieces over the last two years — 15 of which he’s sold. A customer and family friend said his progress has been astounding.
“I’ve watched him grow into this,” said Eddy Fabian, an electrician who has known Gabriel for a decade and has commissioned a nightstand and a stool from the teen. “We use to talk about technical stuff and he had no idea what I was talking about, and now when he talks to me about what he’s doing, I have no clue what he’s talking about. He’s on a whole different level.”
And that passion extends to educating others about woodworking. Pena runs a Youtube channel with carpentry how-to videos. The channel has hundreds of subscribers, and the most-watched walkthrough has more than 15,000 views. Pena is proud to share his passion with others, he said.
“The feeling you get from creating something is unique, and I like sharing it with others,” he said. “There is just nothing else like taking a flat piece of wood and transforming it into something that you envision.”
The Boss Workshop. [www.thebossworkshop.com, (917) 226–6753, email@example.com].
Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
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[SUNSET PARK] Whittle kid! Sunset Park teen is a furniture-making phenom : Brooklyn Paper