Chelsea Clark is the owner of Los Angeles' awesome guitar repair and restoration shop, Guitars And Caffeine.
So you want to know more about me….
In 2003, at 18 years-old, I found myself working in Dan Erlewine's guitar repair shop. I’d been doing odds-and-end house repairs for the Erlewine's, when Dan looked passed my pissed-off-at-the-world exterior and saw my potential. He offered me a job in his shop sweeping, picking up after big repairs, and handing tools. Looking back, I’d say that weekend job saved my life, or at least the quality of which my life will become.
I spent the next few years learning about guitar repair and assisting the guys on Erlewine’s repair team - pouring coffee and cutting hair to pay the bills. In 2005, feeling as though I didn’t know enough about life to ask the right questions, I enrolled at Ohio University. By 2008, I had gained a bachelors in Cultural Studies, which I focused on the cultural expression and growth that follows forced migration - religion, literature. My thirst for knowledge would once again reared it’s head in 2012, when I went back to school for a technical certificate in Industrial Design. From 2007 to 20011, wanting to gain experience, I started accepted jobs throughout the East Coast and MidWest area of the U.S. — working in various guitar repair shops and theater prop shops. My little adventure eventually land me in Louisville, KY, where I got my first taste of managing a repair shop and growing a business — that what when my passion for this industry really started to grow.
And, in the fall of 2011, I found myself in Nashville, working at Gibson's Restoration Shop.
This was the first time I’d had the privilege of working for an industry leader, and was exposed to some amazing instruments and even more complex lessons in business and life. Gibson’s Restoration Shop was a shop where you never felt like you knew enough— broken headstocks, re-frets, refinishing, and vintage restorations — expectations were high, taking on the responsibility to learn and grow was expected, and the experience was well worth all of the blood, sweat and tears (rightfully so, because there were a lot of all three!).
In a little less than a year's time, seeing more potential in bridging the gap between guitar design and repair, I decided to invest my future in research and development, and went back to school for Industrial Design.
About a year later, aimed with more knowledge and experience, I found myself swimming amongst legendary builders and repairs at a conference called Northwoods, up in Michigan. There, I received a few job offers on the West Coast. And, in the fall of 2013, the decision was made to move across the country to Los Angeles.
For the first two years in LA, my sole focus was helping rebuild the reputation and manage the repair shop for one of LA's legacy music stores. There, I learned a lot about business management, customer care, and team building. All of the new lessons in business fueled me to grow passed my set position. I found myself in a shop that wanted to stay the same, when I wanted to grow and change. Sharing new ideas and approaches for growing the business became more and more exhausting, and I became more and more detached from myself and my work. That was when I learned one of the most important lessens in business: you can’t sculpt someone else’s dream to mirror your own. So, I decided it was time to grow up, and start investing in my own future. On March 21st of 2016, Guitars And Caffeine was officially born.
Since the opening of Guitars And Caffeine, I’ve branched out — Along with my everyday bench work, I’ve been writing articles for guitar websites like Reverb.com and print, like Fretboard Journal. I’ve been a guest on some amazing podcasts, interview by business specialists, spoken at guitar conferences, and have helped other luthier based small businesses grow and become healthier.
It’s always been about the connection to people, focusing on quality, allowing change to take place — learning about why this is my passion, and exploring different opportunities without feeling less about where I’m going based on another person’s dream. We all deserve to be actively accountable living our dreams.
I hope you enjoy the site! The blogs and videos are so much fun to create; I hope you click away feeling more inspired to have fun when you pickup your instrument or step up to your bench.