Despite my friend David Sax’s best efforts, we sadly live in an increasingly digital world. Luckily, a few things remain staunchly resistant to 0s and 1s: A medium-rare steak. An even rarer whiskey. A worn-in pair of duck boots. And thanks to Daneson, a great toothpick.
I first came across this simple pleasure while staying at MacArthur Place in Sonoma, and my mouth has not been the same since. Perhaps I’ve gone off the deep end, I mean I wrote a piece of fan fiction about the brand. But perhaps it was that spirit and quirk that convinced Peter Smith, the founder of Daneson, to answer my questions. Lumber shouldn’t taste this good.
Nish: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Peter: Floating in and listening to the fizz and pop of foaming water on a river or ocean swell.
Nish:What was your worst job ever?
Peter: I was a merger arbitrage desk analyst at the height of the market just before the credit crisis. It wasn't the Wolf of Wall Street but it wasn't too far off. It was bananas and I was very much a spectator on a wild ride.
Nish:What was your first job ever?
Peter: Ski tuner. One of those guys who pushed downhill skis through machines to sharpen them. Very wet and not fun.
Nish:What was your best job ever?
Peter: Notwithstanding Daneson, I worked at a cooperative called Mountian Equipment Co-op (MEC). Much of the ethos in terms of how Daneson does things was learned working at MEC.
Nish: What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Peter: Not doing as I had hoped to do.
Nish: What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Peter: I've never really thought about that. Occasionally people do annoy me but I've never generalized it into a specific deplorable trait.
Nish: What’s some advice you’d give to yourself at 23?
Peter: Have courage. Don't sell yourself or those around you short.
Nish: What is your greatest extravagance?
Peter: I can have a hard time getting to sleep, so when I do fall asleep I like to stay asleep. I like naps.
Nish: You have dinner reservations for 4 at Noma, excluding family and close friends, who are the three people (alive, dead or imaginary) you’d invite?
Peter: First, it wouldn't be Noma. And it wouldn't be who - it would be when.
At the moment I would give my left arm to go back in time to just about any dinner pre iPhones, pre the internet, pre-Instagram and all the accompanying shit. The food tasted better. The company was up for it. The nights had endless potential. I feel bad for those who won't get to experience how good winging it and letting it ride was.
Nish: What is the theme song of your professional life?
Peter: It's only a minute and thirty-six seconds long and I have no idea who these guys are or if I'm even writing their name correctly but I listened to Arvo Pårt, Seven Magnificent Antiphons I.O. Weisheit on loop for two days when I was designing the original Daneson.com site in 2011. My non-zen goto music is Master Blaster by Stevie Wonder.
Nish: What is your motto?
Peter: It's better to sleep well than it is to eat well.
Nish: What is something you're really excited about right now?
Peter: My team - they're amazing.