About Us

This is the story of two designers with a big dream.

Tinkering Monkey first started as a blog to share our love of making things. We turned it into an online shop when people started to request the items that they saw us make. From the start, we promised ourselves one thing - to work with our hands and make things in small batches.

Everything you see in our shop was designed and carefully built by us‚ right in the garage of our tiny, century-old house our historic work/live loft in sunny Oakland, CA. Love hand-crafted goods built to last? We’ve got lots to share.

The Monkeys

 

Mike Cheung

Co-Founder, Production
Mike is a DIY enthusiast that believes that if something can be built, modified, or invented, then it should be. Mike grew up in Georgia shootin' guns and cow tipping, but now lives a much safer life as an industrial designer in the San Francisco Bay Area.

website | twitter

 

Paula Chang

Co-Founder, Operations
Paula runs the monkey business and connects with like-minded people in the design and DIY community. On the rare occasion she's not geeking out in front of the computer, she can be found either baking, disco dancing, or talking to the rabbit.

website | twitter

 

Eunice Hernandez

Sales and Support
Eunice Hernandez recently joined our team, and expands our tiny studio to a whopping three people. Contact us anytime, she'll likely be the first to answer your questions.

The Studio

Tinkering Monkey is located at The Cotton Mill, a brick-and-timber warehouse space in Oakland, CA. The warehouse was originally a cotton mill that began in 1883 and became the largest textile mill operation west of the Mississippi. We share the building with an eclectic group of artists, designers, and businesses.

Fun fact: We live where we work. Our loft is zoned for commercial and residential use, and there's a single wall separating our workshop from our living space. Not a bad thing when you love what you do for a living.

Take a peek inside our workshop »

Top photo by lacunha

The Story

  • 1980
  • Jan 1982

    Mike is born in Mountain View, CA.

  • May 1985

    Paula is born in San Jose, CA.

  • 1989

    Mike moves to rural Georgia. He grows up with no television or video games. What he did have was wide open spaces, access to power tools and his imagination. Mike's childhood was filled with DIY tandem bicycles, three story tree houses, and occasionally playing with fire (literally).

  • 1990

    Paula plays piano for the first time, and continues to play for the next ten years. Her love for art and music grows faster than her parents can keep up with.

  • 2001
  • 2001

    Paula gets her first high school job doing data processing for a real estate agent. She vows to never work in a cubicle again.

  • 2002

    Mike works a summer job at a chicken processing factory, organizing more than fifteen years’ worth of files in a sweltering, steel warehouse in Georgia.

  • 2002-2006

    Mike studies Industrial Design at San Jose State and lives a life of extreme self-reliance. He learns how to weld, edit video, swap his own transmission, and forego television for hours of YouTube how-to tutorials.

  • 2004-2007

    Paula studies Graphic Design at San Jose State and meets roommate Eunice, who now manages sales.

  • 2008
  • May 2008

    Mike and Paula meet at the Maker Faire. Make Magazine even wrote about the encounter.

  • June 2008

    Mike and Paula adopt Boris, a 1971 VW bus. 

  • August 2009

    Mike and Paula start to travel the world. They visit Spain, China, Japan, Sweden, and Denmark over the next few years finding inspiration in the most unexpected places.

  • 2011
  • Feb 2011

    Tinkering Monkey is born in a one car garage in Burlingame, CA. The website is designed in an hour, and it launches with three products.

  • May 2011

    Mike is laid off from his full time job as an industrial designer at Smart Design, where he did much of their prototyping work. Instead of looking for a new job, he turns his focus on building Tinkering Monkey.

  • May 2011

    Mike proposes to Paula in Hawaii. They're engaged!

  • June 2011

    The laser cutter arrives at the house in a freight truck. It's three times larger than expected, and doesn't fit in the house. They pack up and move across the bay.

  • 2012
  • Oct 2012

    Tinkering Monkey moves into the Cotton Mill Studios in sunny Oakland, CA. Within a few weeks of moving, they host the first of many fun open studios nights. 

  • Nov 2012

    The first Stand for Square™ is sold. It was a breakthrough success, and showed them that they are going a step in the right direction. They struggle to keep up with demand. 

    wood ipad stand
  • June 2012

    They are introduced to Bill, a woodworker less than two miles of us in Alameda, CA. He helps make parts for the Stand for Square™. Tinkering Monkey starts to catch up with orders. 

  • October 2012

    Paula leaves her full time job as lead interactive designer at Omada Health. She is sad to leave, but excited about dedicating more time to Tinkering Monkey.

  • 2013
  • Jun 2013

    Eunice Hernandez joins our team to manage customer support. She just so happens to be a talented animator

  • Mar 2013

    The 500th Stand for Square™ is sold! Mike and Paula jump with joy imagining our handmade product used in small businesses across the country.