By age five she was knitting. Now, at age 14, she is crafting with a laser cutter.
For Los Osos student and crafter Zoë Hendricks, creativity comes quite naturally. Hendricks maintains straight A’s in all of her classes, while also taking on the pseudonym @lasercraft_lososos on Instagram. Through social media platforms, Hendricks takes and fulfills a variety of custom décor orders. She manages and markets her brand almost entirely on her own.
Hendricks, towards the start of the pandemic, was given a Glowforge, a home-grade laser cutter by her mother, Rachael Hendricks. Rachael Hendricks said she’s inspired by her only child, Zoë and her independent efforts.
“When she was five, she stopped liking, you know, traditional toys,” Rachael said. “So, we bought her a sewing machine and she made a quilt that she won first place [with] in the fair through 4-H, all by herself.”
Hendricks describes her mom as both her greatest inspiration and her materials manager.
For this young professional, most days begin with school around 9 a.m.. Hendricks joins her mother at Trust Automation, an engineering manufacturing company, where her mother works as a Human Resources (HR) manager.
Here, Hendricks participates as a part of an in-person and online schooling hybrid where students are provided with a cubicle workspace and can participate in their Zoom classes.
Caroline Rossi, the Trust Automation school space coordinator said that Hendricks maintains an independent personality and inspires her.
“She’s [Hendricks] definitely an old soul, and even with her learning new things, [she’s] teaching me new things about how to, you know, become a strong woman and how to keep up for myself,” said Rossi.
Hendricks attends class until 11:45 a.m., works on homework until 2 p.m., and heads home around 4 p.m.. Afterwards, she begins work on her laser cutting commissions. She said she works into the evening until around 8:30 p.m. and then heads to bed.
Since receiving this latest bit of hardware, Hendricks has grown to be quite the jargon buster when it comes to laser crafting. She starts by gathering her ideas from Pinterest but then plugs most ideas into a variety of programs.
After drafting her ideas across these programs, she sends instructions to her Glowforge and the laser cutting begins.
Most of what Hendricks has learned about laser cutting has been from YouTube, though her mother was able to connect her with Morgan Crawford, a fellow Los Osos local who Rachael met via a shared Facebook group, who also participates in laser cutting on a much larger scale.
Rachael reached out to Crawford so Hendricks might be able to take a closer look at a more industrialized laser cutting process, fill any gaps in her knowledge and have a mentor in this niche hobby.
Crawford, a San Luis Obispo social services employee, mostly laser cuts materials for custom projects for the Airbnb he manages.
He said that his impression from the interaction between him and Hendricks is that she has a firm understanding of how laser cutting works.
“I initially loved that her mom is supporting [her] in such a way,” Crawford said. “To see parents equip their kids is really valuable to me. I love that she reached out to me. I love that Zoë is going for it.”
He feels his greatest contribution in her efforts was merely test supplies and advice on where the mother-daughter duo could source Hendrick’s supplies from.
Hendrick’s father, Steve Hendricks, a Cuesta College professor, said he enjoys seeing his daughter and wife bond over late-night crafting together. He feels that as long as Hendricks enjoys what she’s doing he is ready to keep supporting her. If that ever changes, Steve Hendricks is ready to support his daughter’s next dream.
“If it ever becomes [like] a job for her, then stop doing it,” said Steve.
For now, Hendricks said she remains content with her pursuits and the purpose she finds behind them.
“I think it’s just really cool because I can make a lot of different people’s dreams come true,” Hendricks said.
She recently worked on a project where she engraved a cutting board for a woman whose daughter had passed away. The cutting board was engraved with a recipe in the daughter’s handwriting.
“It makes me feel really special that I can become part of these people’s lives,” Hendricks said.
Hendricks, after discovering her love for laser cutting, is now a part of a three-year fast track engineering program offered through her high school. Though she is unsure what she wants to do when she grows up, Hendricks said she is sure she wants to attend Cuesta College before gaining her independence and transferring to a university far from home.
The Hendricks family speculates that perhaps Hendricks will ditch the tech and follow a more liberal arts-oriented path as a theatre major in college.