Ocean City local Wyatt Harrison, owner of Plak That, invited ShoreBread for a one-on-one in his studio this week to allow us a sneak peek at what really goes on behind the scenes at his innovative business. To say his company has seen exponential growth in the past two years would be an understatement. After walking in, we quickly realized how busy this 26-year-old is. If you haven’t heard of Plak That, it’s similar to a print on canvas, except that photos and designs are printed on sustainable wood. In fact, Harrison prints each picture directly on the wood, creating truly unique wall art. What’s more, each piece is completely custom, allowing you to take your own photos and preserve them on wood. It truly is one of the most unique, original processes we’ve ever seen.
“I was in California visiting my brother and while we were at dinner I looked up and saw this alcohol sign but it was printed on wood,” remembers Harrison. “I took it off the wall and called the manufacturer.” Harrison had been working at Malibu’s Surf Shop for several years and immediately envisioned Owner Lee Gerachis’s photography on the wooden planks. It wasn’t long before the wood prints were on display in the shop. To no surprise, they were a hit. “Then one day this man came in and said, ‘these are so cool! Can you print one of my family?’ I went home that night and made my website” said Harrison. That was October 2012. Since then, you could say Plak That has become a local phenomenon.
With a customizable website- Harrison has been able to pinpoint what customers really want, with just the click of a button. “At first, I thought people were just going to use my photography because of the quality but I quickly realized that they want to take the picture, because its more personal and special,” said Harrison. “99.9% of the photos for orders are user photos. I never expected that.”
Some of the businesses around Ocean City have caught on as well, using Plak That for a wide variety of projects… decorations, menus and everything in between. Some of these businesses include Burley Oak, Malibu’s Surf Shop, K-Coast, Endless Summer, Reel Inn, Worcester County Rec & Parks, OC Wasabi, Dew Tour, Rise Up, and Eastern Surfing Association.
In addition, Plak That has gained significant international traction due to Harrison’s involvement with 1% For The Planet, a mission that builds, supports and activates an alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthy planet. The cause has just hit their 10 year anniversary and have more than $100 million invested in positive environmental change by the member companies. Harrison has played an active role in the mission for years; however, it just so (serendipitously) happens that Plak That is the only printing biz in the organization, which consequently ended up working out in Harrison’s favor, affording Plak That the unique opportunity to do the printing for many of the companies involved. One such opportunity has been making wooden posters for the Jack Johnson Concert Series.
What’s even more impressive is that Plak That has been shipping as far as Japan and Australia. “I just didn’t foresee how many avenues I would be going down,” said Harrison. “It’s just really neat to see how people are using it.” And the avenues sure are endless. Plak That recently introduced acrylic and aluminum prints, proving that they aren’t just pigeonholed to printing on wood. These are great if you need signage or are looking for a more modern look for mounting your photos. Between the wood, acrylic and aluminum prints, Plak That is turning out home décor, photography, wedding invitations, signage, large wall installations and more. Novelty gifts are a huge part of the business of course – a custom Plak That makes the perfect gift for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and Christmas. With the holiday season creeping in, Harrison is already gearing up for what is undoubtedly his busiest time of year.
So how does it work? It’s quite simple actually. On the consumer’s end there are two options, custom or standard. Custom prints afford customers the opportunity to take their own photos (even Instagram pics) and upload them to the site. From there, Harrison and his massive printing machine work their magic to produce custom, sustainable wood prints. There are also a variety of standard prints to choose from off of the Plak That site or the Plak That Etsy site – think Maryland flags, crabs with Natty Light, beach settings, etc…
Currently, Harrison is looking to the future. “We’re really looking to focus on the new acrylic and aluminum prints and getting them out there, we’re trying to find the right marketing channels for each material,” said Harrison. “I want locals to know I’m beyond wood.” With a successful two years under his belt and a promising future on the horizon, we’re sure this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing of Plak That.