Laser artist powers up for expansion

Jason Lefton, founder of Big Secret, is moving his startup to a much larger Jackson Ward workshop. Photos by Michael Thompson.

Jason Lefton, founder of Big Secret, is moving his startup to a much larger Jackson Ward workshop.
Photos by Michael Thompson.

Big Secret is getting bigger.

Big Secret, a laser-powered startup in Jackson Ward, is moving this month into a new, larger headquarters and has launched an online store.

The 4-year-old company uses its 800-pound, 120-watt laser to cut, etch, and engrave designs into material like wood and glass for its clients.

It has leased a new 2,000-square-foot space at 120 W. Marshall St., about a block from its current 400-square-foot home at 308 N. Adams St.

Founder Jason Lefton said the added space will give Big Secret room to add more lasers. It also allows Lefton to keep the business in Jackson Ward.

“I made a very conscious decision to be in Jackson Ward,” Lefton said. “I wanted to be in a creative neighborhood.”

Lefton, 34, said at any given time Big Secret can be working 10 to 20 projects for up to 15 different clients. The price of Big Secret’s services can go up to $30,000. The company has one full-time employee and hires part-time employees as needed.

Its work has included laser-engraved loaves of bread for the 2014 Elbys, a local restaurant awards ceremony, and chestnut boxes for theory11, an online magic company.

“What we do is definitely a very niche thing,” Lefton said.

Big Secret

Big Secret’s online shop lists prices from $32 snowflakes to a $850 wooden 3-D skull created in collaboration with artist Joan Tarragó of Barcelona.

Its new home has been vacant for years, Lefton said. A local ad firm will take over the current space.

With the launch of the company’s online store on Sept. 12, Big Secret adds a retail component that Lefton said he has wanted since he started the company in 2010.

Among the store’s offerings is a $32 wooden snowflake that shoppers can customize by typing in letters that computer code translates into a unique carved pattern. Norfolk-based Grow designed the code for Big Secret.

Lefton said Big Secret has grown in each of its four years in business. He credits the growth partly to a cultural shift toward handmade goods. He cited the upcoming RVA MakerFest as an example of the renewed interest in handmade goods over digital technology.

“In general there has been a lot of backlash to screens,” Lefton said. “As a direct result, you’ve seen a lot of trends toward hand making.”

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of
avatar
wpDiscuz