Mixtape (vol. 2)



It’s so hard for me to narrow down my music into a mix, but here is an eclectic list of my favorites stretching out over the past 10 or so years. Enjoy! I hope you find something new in here to add to your playlist!







'For Me This is Heaven' – Jimmy Eat World

'Woods' – Bon Iver

'Treading Water' – Nada Surf

'Every Shining Time You Arrive' – Sunny Day Real Estate

'Stations' – Denison Witmer

'Rose Parade' – Elliott Smith

'Evening on the Ground (Lilith’s Theme)' – Iron & Wine

'Alabaster' – Rocky Votolato

'Kim & Jesse' – M83

'Cowboy Dan' – Modest Mouse

'Not Getting There' – Blonde Redhead

'Let Down' – Radiohead

'Pagan Poetry' – Bjork

'Brennisteinn' – Sigur Ros

'Does He Love You?' – Rilo Kiley

'Brightly' – Sleeping at Last

'Hard to Be' – David Bazan

'Weak Become Heroes' – The Streets

'Don’t Swallow at The Cap' – The National

'Say It Ain’t So' - Weezer



October 01, 2013 by Caleb Zwanzig

Mixtape (vol 1.)

Mixtapes are such a throwback for me! The word 'mixtape' makes me think of summer, exchanging music with friends and coming across songs or artists I'd never heard before. Maybe you'll find a song here that makes you want to roll the windows down and have a good time!

 (in no particular order)

'Two Weeks' - Grizzly Bear

'Young Blood' - The Naked And Famous

'My Number' - Foals

'Late Night' - Foals

'Wild' - Beach House

'Kids' - Sleigh Bells

'Creep In A T-Shirt' - Portugal. The Man

'Cautioners' - Jimmy Eat World

'Lucie, Too' - Now, Now

'Byegone' - Volcano Choir

'The Wild Hunt' - The Tallest Man On Earth

'Take A Walk' - Passion Pit

'No Church In The Wild' - Jay-Z & Kanye West

'Sister' - The Black Keys

'My Girls' - Animal Collective

'Beth/Rest' - Bon Iver

'My Love' - Justin Timberlake

'Wooly Mammoth' - Local Natives

'Diet Mountain Dew' - Lana Del Rey

'The Archers Bows Have Broken' - Brand New



September 18, 2013 by Marshall Usinger

Autumn Playlist

Autumn is rolling into Colorado. With the cooler temperatures and rainy skies, I’m getting excited for Fall. Sweaters, spiked cider, and colorful leaves, I can’t wait! Music is very seasonal for me so I put together some of my favorites for autumn. What are your favorites?

Twenty Two Fourteen – The Album Leaf

The Leaving Song – A.F.I.

We Own the Sky – M83

Secret Of The Easy Yoke – Pedro the Lion

Art In Me – Jars of Clay

September Baby – Joseph Arthur

Carry You – The Fire Theft

Such Great Heights – Iron & Wine

Everything You’re Not Supposed To Be (feat. Damien Rice) – Melanie Laurent

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye – David Gray

September 11, 2013 by Caleb Zwanzig

Our Journey to the Spiral Jetty!

Over Labor Day weekend, Marshall and I took a trip to Salt Lake City with our ladies. After enjoying In and Out Burger, We took a trip up to the north side of the Great Salt Lake to see the Spiral Jetty. Built by Robert Smithson in April 1970, the jetty stretches out for 1500 feet. Here’s a little bit of what we experienced:



This was my second trip to the jetty… and it definitely did not disappoint. The ground around the jetty was entirely encrusted in salt and the water was pink. It really felt like a landscape you’d find on another planet. The landscape is such an integral part of the jetty. It’s pretty awesome to see! Smithson and this piece in particular have had a profound influence on how I see my own artistic process. As I discovered his work a few years ago, it challenged me to imagine my work outside of a conventional art gallery as well as stretch my understanding of what art can be. For me the Spiral Jetty includes the lake itself, the mountains in the background, the remnants of exploration for fossil fuels. And this is the beauty of Land Art for me… It stretches us to pull our surroundings into focus and realize the power they can have in art and in life.


I had never heard of the spiral jetty before taking this trip, come to find out I was in the same boat as many of my friends. Driving towards the jetty was half the fun! Eventually you hit dirt road and have to drive another 10 miles to get there. It was like driving through a desert from centuries ago, just us and the wilderness. When we arrived at the jetty we saw the rocks from a distance making a path out into the lake of salt. It was unlike anything I've ever seen. My wife and I took our shoes off and walked out into the salt where the water starts to rise, it was awesome! It's crazy to me how we are surrounded by art, beauty, and existence. It's easy to forget that and get caught up with the things that are less important. Though I'm a novice when it comes to art, I had a true sense of awe and was inspired that a man ventured out years ago to create these beautiful rock formations in the middle of nowhere.


September 09, 2013 by Caleb Zwanzig

Guilty Pleasures

We've all got a few guilty pleasures when it comes to music. Maybe it's that new Lady Gaga hit that you dance to in your car, or the Phil Collins ballad that makes you cry like a baby. With music, beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. It's not about the critics. It's not about the cool kids. It's about the energy we feel when we hear that catchy melody, or the memory that is conjured up from our past.  We can attempt to deconstruct this all day long. We'll even try to explain to a friend why we love that new Katy Perry hit only to get a blank stare or a sarcastic remark. Music hits us all in different ways, so embrace those guilty pleasures... maybe there's no reason to feel guilty at all! While the cynics are busy frowning, I'll be dancing in my car! 

Lead Craftsman - Koostik

And here are a few of my favorites:

Lady Gaga - Hooked on those music videos!
Vertical Horizon - Oh the 90's!
Phil Collins - Baby makin' music... 'nough said!
Bruno Mars - Just. Plain. Catchy.
Gavin Degraw - I just like him... ok!
Enrique Iglesias - I'm still very embarrassed about this one... 

August 08, 2013 by Caleb Zwanzig

Meet Jim Simon

Hi There!  I’m Jim.  After reading through the great posts of our awesome Koostik team, I’m feeling a bit inadequate.  Tough acts to follow, for sure!  I’m blessed to call Jancy my incredibly talented and beautiful wife (of 36 years!), Mike, our genius, gifted son (of 26 years; getting married to Sarah in September!), Marshall, our first Koostik employee and totally awesome guy (getting married to Sarah, but not the same Sarah as Mike’s, tomorrow, 6-20-13!), and Caleb, a superman of epic proportions in our Koostik making enterprise (getting married to Carrie in January of 2014!).  Whew!  Surrounded by such an amazing group- what can I say?  (Did you catch that?  Three guys engaged to be married!  Guess what the conversation sounds like around our coffee breaks...)

Many years ago, I remember a trip to my family doctor for a check-up.  I had to fill out a questionaire, and one of the questions was, “What do you do for a living?”  I answered, “I’m just a cabinetmaker.”  The secretary who reviewed my completed form before passing it on to the doctor commented, “What do you mean, “‘just a cabinetmaker?’”,  “That’s an awesome occupation!”  I guess I had never thought much about it- but it is in fact- pretty awesome.  The term “cabinetmaker” was used in times past to refer to many trades engaged in wood or timber working specialties.  I’ve been engaged in the trade for about 40 years now- and I find new challenges in it every day!

Jancy and I had a Kitchen and Bath business in the Denver area for about 25 years.  During that time, we designed and installed hundreds of custom kitchens, baths, home offices, entertainment centers, etc.  The experiences taught me SO much!  I was daily forced to find real solutions to numerous design problems, realities in the field, and of course- engage in customer relations.  These experiences helped to prepare me for the challenges of product design and production.  

I grew up in Midland, Texas.  My dad was a petroleum engineer.  He loved woodworking as a hobby- so I guess I internalized my dad’s happy place as a good place to pursue myself.  My dad taught me to solve problems, make things myself; and if something doesn’t work the way you want it to, keep at it until it does.  This background has given me a certain drive to make things- and to constantly strive to make them better.  My first forays into woodworking were small whittled objects made with a pocket knife I still have to this day.  

My first wood carving, age 14;  a cowboy.  The knife I used then and still own today.

Koostik has been a genuinely exciting and motivating enterprise for me personally.  At the outset, we had no idea how far it might go.  We still don’t know.  But every day is a new adventure; orders to fill and sometimes, requests for the “nearly impossible” to which we say, “Bah!”  (We don’t worry about what’s nearly impossible!)

I would love to share some of the really cool things we have in the pipeline with you- but alas, we have to guard a few things until they’re ready to roll out.  Suffice to say- Koostik is today what it only dreamed of being yesterday.  Tomorrow, it will be what we are just dreaming today!  That actually defines me pretty well.

Three Koostik shop monkeys.  I’m the one who sees no evil.

June 19, 2013 by Jim Simon

Meet Mike Simon

Well hello there.

I am Mike Simon, the one behind the website, the photos, the media, the sales, and the marketing for Koostik!  I have been fortunate enough to be a part of a few startups in my young career and have to say there is nothing more challenging or fun than being a part of something special from the very beginning.  Before joining Koostik full time last year I worked for a company called Original Wraps.  We led the industry in dealer level OEM vinyl graphics for Ford, VW, GM, Nissan, Mini Cooper, Kia, Hyundai, Fiat, Chrysler, and BMW.  It was a blast working with some really talented people, our work catching the eye of 3M (the company that made the film we used).  3M ended up buying the company in 2011, keeping all of the original staff.  This was a very awesome experience to say the least.  Have to thank Tom Stemple and Chris Loar for bringing me in to be a part of it!  Before Original Wraps, I worked for another Stemple-started company called SkinIt.  This was an incredible experience as I was hired straight out of high school to work for a cutting edge technology company.  So thankful for the Stemples giving me the opportunity there.

Koostik has been a great place to work as I am very passionate about design, technology, and music.  I've been playing music for years and even released an EP last year with Aaron Johnson called The Pollyanna EP.  It is available on iTunes, Spotify, and BandCamp.  Check it out!

Hmmm, what else should you know....  I'm getting married in September to my best friend Sarah Whiting.  So dang excited for that!  

We've got a little golden retriever named 'Fur Elise'.  She occasionally comes into the Koostik office, but isn't much help even though we've tried to train her to sweep the floors with her wagging tail.  

Guess that's about it...  Thanks for checking out our website, we'd love to make a Koostik just for you!!



Mike Simon

June 13, 2013 by Michael Simon

Meet Jancy Simon

You know the one that makes sure everyone gets their paycheck on time, makes sure there’s coffee and granola bars available for coffee breaks, and makes reservations for the company Christmas party?  That would be me.  I also make sure that every Koostik that goes out the door has a delicious lemon oil/beeswax finish.  And the cute little felt sleeves that some of our products come with?  Me again!  

In my spare time these days, you will find me and my best friend (aka Jim Simon, Koostik inventor) searching out new hiking trails to conquer in the foothills west of Denver.  There is nothing better than walking in the woods with the sunlight filtering through the pine trees.  We find some pretty awesome views –

When the weather doesn’t cooperate for hiking, I am always game for planning great getaways to Ireland and the UK.  As much as I enjoy the Rocky Mountains, I am a sucker for the greenness of the British Isles.

I also appreciate a nice English tea complete with scones and clotted cream.  Fortunately,  Jim’s sister & brother-in-law  live south of London in the country, so we are able to make a trip every couple of years across the pond.  On our last trip, we personally delivered a Koostik to a customer on the Isle of Wight; it was a delight to spend an afternoon with them in their beach cottage overlooking The Solent.  Our Koostik customers are the best!


June 05, 2013 by Jancy Simon

Meet Marshall Usinger

How's it goin peeps?! 

I'm Marshall, I've been working here at Koostik for just about a year now, and am long time friends of the Simon family!  Being a part of the Koostik team has been my first major experience of woodworking and I have been loving it thus far!  It's an intense and exciting learning process as well.  One of the things I love about working in the shop environment is how unique and detailed every piece can be.  Each piece we make here has it's own characteristics and features that make it stand out.  I have really enjoyed learning about the types of wood we use and how they come together from start to finish! 

Now for a bit about my own creative background.  I've been a musician for about 15 years now, so working here is an awesome benefit simply because I love music.  Writing music has become a huge part of who I am.  I play guitar, bass guitar, and drums, but electric guitar is really all I play most of the time.  I love tackling new instruments and recently got to learn the mandolin for a cover we did at our church - so cool!  I've played in a number of bands over time and have recently been working on a new project with some guys I've been playing with for a while. 

I'd love for you to check out some music of mine if you have a chance!  I play in a band by the name 'Jay J Matott & the Arctic'.  We released an album by the name 'To the Big River' which is available on iTunes!  Take a listen to our song 'Morning Sun'.  Thanks for reading! 

Marshall Usinger 


May 29, 2013 by Marshall Usinger

Meet Caleb Zwanzig

Hello everyone!

I'm Caleb, and I've been on the Koostik team for over 6 months now. I want to take a little time to introduce myself and some of my artwork to you! My artwork takes root in map-making principles as well as geology and observations in nature. I've been fascinated with maps ever since I was a little kid. Pouring over the pages for hours, I would pick out my favorite maps and trace them to make my own atlases. Even now I study maps for hours, which inspire my map manipulations and topographic drawings.

Through photography and sculpture I have found interesting ways to mimic nature. In my photographic work I build models in my freezer using ice, food coloring, rock salt, and clay. I take the models and photograph them from an aerial perspective to imitate landscapes.

Hope you enjoy the work! I love exploring all these avenues from woodworking to map-making to geology to music. In the Koostik shop I have the opportunity to blend a few of these interests together and the possibilities that we're exploring are very exciting. Stay Tuned!

Caleb Zwanzig
Lead Craftsman - Koostik


May 22, 2013 by Caleb Zwanzig