Dee & Steve Aiena_Top Dawgs Tops
All Things Spinning Interview – Dee & Steve Aiena of Top Dawgs Tops
1. Tell us about yourselves a bit, where you from, we know you guys are full time so what’s your passion other than tops, good food, good friends and Gingin?
Steve and i have been married for 7 years. I am from a small town, ……Pairs, Texas and Steve was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas. I have 2 boys, ages 21 and 20, Steve has 4 daughters ages 12,15, 27, and 31. We have 4 grandchildren…AGES 2-5. As husband and wife, we are also best of friends. We do everything together. When we are not in the shop making tops…WE Love watching movies, going out to dinner, and spending time at home. We are home bodies!!!!
2. When did you start this business and what made you decide to dive into this completely?
We started actually making tops about a year ago. But, 6 months prior to that is when we discovered the EDC community. Steve was actually the first to get into the spinning tops. I was not as enthusiastic in the beginning but I saw that it was intriguing to him…SO, i was supportive. I fell in love with the community and the people first…THEN, my love of the tops came soon after. We actually won our very first top in a GAW on ptt. Once it arrived… we were both fascinated with the idea of making them ourselves. This hobby actually started because we wanted to make our own tops. But, when we saw that it brought happiness to others we went full speed ahead. And we haven’t looked back. We have been fortunate that this little business has taken off running. We love doing what we do and that we can enjoy it together.
I actually watched Steve create for the first 6 months. I Would assist and do most of the finishing work…AND My skills just grew with his teaching.
3. What is your goal in 1 year and 5 years? What would you like to see going forward as a business owner and artists?
Our goal is to continue to make tops to the best of our abilities. If Top Dawg grows that’s great, if not that’s OK, too. As long as we can create happiness with ourselves and others…WE Will continue doing what we do.
4. What is your current EDC items? Let’s do a pocket dump photo please!
Will send pic of our entire collection in the morning.
5. Do you have any other hobby? Is it related to EDC or tops?
Not really any other hobbies. Steve collects patches, knives, but we both have interest in all EDC related items.
6. What was the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced during your products development? Tell us how you created your style, your own combo metals, your own designs, etc.
Biggest challenge we faced was actually the start up. Gaining all the equipment, tooling, and knowledge. We did not have a mentor we self taught through trial and error. Hardest days were not having anything to show productive for a fulls day effort. Those were very trying times in the beginning. But, we never quit. Every mistake was a lesson learned. We are still learning everyday.
7. What is your favorite metal? What metal do you hate the most? Pls tell us why and any stories about your reason if it’s cool.
Favorite metal is anything exotic. We particularly like Damasteel and Timascus for all the varieties of pattern and finishes available. We dislike SS the most!! Lol, it’s tough to machine and limited finishing options.
8. Do you have a word for the up and coming collectors and new makers? Any suggestions you’d like to share?
We have mentored a few newer upcoming makers and we have enjoyed watching them grow. Our advice to anyone wanting to try their hand at tops would be to start small and be very patient. This is something that doesn’t happen overnight.
9. What do you see this top community in 5 and 10 years?
We see nothing but growth for the community in the future. In the year we have been active it has already grown leaps and bounds.
10. Once in awhile, we see people copying other makers’ design(by accident or intentionally), metal combos and such. What do you see in this topic? I still remember Steve got kicked out of a Facebook page because he called out the knock offs.
We believe in originality of design. With tops, you are limited to design but we feel we must must must respect other makers design signature and we feel like others should do the same, also. This is just common courtesy. There will always be some slight similarities in the tops in general but overall, each maker has their own signature. We developed our style after many trial and errors and are not solid with a unique style yet in our opinion, lately we have noticed that we are sticking with a general design of our own liking.
11. What would be your next shop integration?
Next big upgrade will be a larger lathe for Dee.
12. What is your inspiration coming from? Who is the most influence in your maker’s career?
We inspire each other. That’s the best part of a husband and wife team.
13. We all hear you guys now have two lathes now. Pls tell us about how you guys work together, I’m sure we’d all love to know.
We come together in the shop first thing, we discuss our daily builds and design and we help each other as needed but, we are pretty competitive which is great because it motivates us to do our best and improve.
14. We know the Texas top con was done by you guys. That’s an awesome idea and we can’t wait to attend the one this year! Tell us a little how you came up with the idea and how did your plan reveal?
Texas top con was a spur of the moment idea between Kerry weeks and us, we did the first year as a trial run which was successful and fun. Hoping it will continue to grow as a yearly tradition. Steve and i were able to attend blade show and top con in Atlanta in 2016. We wanted to bring some of that commendatory to Texas.
15. Do you like music? What’s the music that you blast when you’re working? Do you snack while you work?
We love all types of music. Rock and roll, old country. We have a TV in our shop… so we mostly watch news, daily soaps, and talk shows while we work. Yes, we snack in the shop. Sodas, Milk Duds and Skittles daily. We have an afternoon coffee, too.