For 15 years, Tina Lewis worked at a pharmaceutical distribution company where she managed a proposal development process that resulted in the company achieving $90 billion in annual revenue. Now she makes fishing nets. Fall in love with another career change shaken up to the Great Resignation.
Lewis grew up fishing and participating in archery and shooting clubs with his father and brother in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. She spent her weekends with her grandfather who worked in Philadelphia for the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. Her other hobby was art, but she never pursued it beyond a few community college classes. “I actually got into drawing reading comic books, drawing these characters and later, musicians, when I got into high school,” she told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Then she went to Penn State. Then she landed a top job in the company. And then, 15 years later, the Covid changed everything. There was the national career change trend, and Lewis found a new life for himself.
Fishtown resident Lewis now owns The Wayward Trading Post, where she specializes in handcrafting wooden fly fishing nets. In a warehouse heated by a wood stove under portraits of Bob Marley and Jerry Garcia, she works with walnut, cedar, hickory and cherry wood from the Amish country of Pennsylvania. In a process that can take weeks depending on the complexity of the artistic design, she renders the wood into strips, shapes and finishes it with a variety of power saws and sanders, engraves it, applies epoxy to it and attaches a silicone netting that provides gentle handling for the fish that it eventually corrals.
His low-end nets, which cost around $100, feature his company logo on the handle — a trout with a bear in the middle. But she adorns her personalized nets, which fetch up to $1,000, with engravings inspired by her clients’ wishes, whether it’s a mountain scene, a beloved pet or a a Hendrickson.
In some cases, it incorporates memorabilia from the client’s past, such as military medals or coins. The result: a bespoke product that a seasoned trout angler could one day pass on to the next angler in the family line. “These are heirloom pieces, something customers want to pass down from generation to generation,” Lewis said.