Joseph Cowlishaw the founder and owner of Wowflute is a mechanical designer with a background in engineering technology. He has spent many fun years working on varying projects from civil engineering design to structural and mechanical design. He found his niche in product design in 2009 when he started selling his first pocket swirl flutes. He has a passion for business and art and has combined them to produce the Wowflute.
Joseph and Christina reside in Cedar City, UT with their five children.
A little bit of history from Joseph:
Hello! I grew up in the small southern Utah town of Cedar City. During my childhood I was always trying to find creative ways to fund my summer adventures. From cherry picking to mowing lawns my brother Nathan Cowlishaw and I always found a way to buy nails for the treehouse, parts for our bikes, and penny candies!
During my adventures I attended high school at Canyon View as a freshman and took my first ceramics class from Bryan Jensen. He was somewhat eccentric but very involved when it came to teaching ceramics. He touched on the subject of making instruments out of clay my first week in his class and I was enthralled that you could make mud into music. Brian did not teach the class how to do this but he did have a handout on the fundamentals of making whistles for anyone interested. My engineering brain was attracted immediately and I grabbed the handout and focused on making my first whistle out of mud.
I attempted to make all of my assignments from that day on with some kind of musical aspect. Through the next four years of ceramics classes in high school I know for a fact I annoyed each and every teacher as I experimented with new ways to make music in clay. Suzi Gonzales (ceramics at Cedar High School) was another inspiration for me because she allowed me to take my flutes and ocarinas to the next level and pushed me to try things I had never done before.
After High School I went on to SUU for a semester and then decided to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). I put my pottery making on hold because I knew I wouldn’t have access to a kiln out in New York City, NY, where I was called to serve for the next two years.
While enjoying my time as a missionary in the Big Apple I found an awesome material called polymer clay. I used this clay on my partial days off and started making all sorts of miniature sculptural whistles and flutes for fellow missionaries. My Mission President Nelson Boren, was an artist himself, and encouraged me to make flutes by purchasing clay for me. He even had me make is wife a large pink pig flute which turned out way too pink for my liking.
When I got back from New York City in July of 2006 I decided to pursue a degree in Engineering. I worked as a draftsman for Lamoreaux Group Engineering and loved the process of coming up with unique designs and interpreting napkin sketches into viable engineering drawings. While pursuing this career path I met my wonderful better half – Christina Manning from Mesa, AZ. We were married shortly after meeting (six months), and we began to build our lives together. We lived in a tiny basement apartment and enjoyed going to school together.
My mother-in-law was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer in 2008 and we decided to migrate to Mesa to be closer. While planning a fundraiser for her, she prodded me into writing down the first music fingering for the Wowflute which was the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I made a bunch of Pocket Wowflutes for a benefit auction and they were gone by the end. People loved them!
I decided to start my own side business called Wahsilwoc Whistle Ocarinas. It was a mouthful to read, and difficult to pronounce but it was my last name backwards and I liked it. After several years of selling at local art markets and farmers markets I now had my Pocket Ocarinas in many different countries.
In 2013 I decided to leave my day job as an Account Manager and pursue my flutes full-time. I started a new company called Wowflutes, and started designing an injection mold version of my popular pocket flute. I spent several months designing a functional 3D printed prototype that worked quite well. In April of 2013 I launched a Kickstarter project for the Tritan Wowflute. We successfully met our goal within two days and a few months later the Tritan Wowflute was added to our lineup of cool products!
I have recently completed a prototype for our newest product the Relic Wowflute that is made out of bronze and other precious metals. I launched another successful Kickstarter for this project and now have all the equipment necessary to work in metal.
I enjoy business, marketing, product design, and engineering and have found that I could combine all these interests and passions into my own company – Wowflutes! Thank you for reading the Wowflutes story. I hope to inspire others to make the leap into doing what they love.
– Joseph Cowlishaw