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Someone You Should Know: Overcoming an obstacle to build a business

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 5:19 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A Brookings man has overcome an obstacle in life to build a business. We think he’s Someone You Should Know.

Ismael Collazo is a woodworker who crafts with precision, making cutting boards you’d see in a kitchen.

“At the beginning, it took me two-three weeks to make one. But now from actually going to Lennox, getting the wood bringing it home, processing it, getting everything ready. I can pump out two or three cutting boards a day,” said Ismael.

He makes them in the garage of his Brookings home.

“And the difference between me and another woodworker is. Every part of that cutting board, I touch with my fingers to make sure it’s perfect,” said Ismael.

There is another difference that sets Ismael apart, because of what’s happened in his life.

“Born and raised in Miami, Florida. Got diabetes when I was 11 months old, that’s how I lost my eyesight seven years ago,” said Ismael.

After going blind, his wife, a South Dakota girl, helped him turn things around.

“For the first year that I went blind, it was the roughest time for me. Because it was I drank a lot, but I don’t know who wouldn’t. After the year my, wife was like ok it’s time to get out of your funk because people live blind,” said Ismael.

Getting out of that funk, involved taking a woodworking class at the Rehab School for the Blind.

“Their biggest thing is safety, safety, safety, safety. Just be very careful and a lot of people say oh man you woodwork and are blind. I’m like. I think I’m safer than someone who can see because I take more precautions so I don’t get hurt. And I don’t rely on my sight. Just don’t put your fingers where there’s a lot of noise pretty much, and I have a lot of guides of safety training for the tools,” said Ismael.

So Ismael started a business, that needed a name.

“I was going to call it Blind Boards. But there’s actually a skateboard company called Blind Boards. So I couldn’t use that one. So my wife was like ‘What about Blind Guy Boards?’ and I was like, ‘Perfect.’,” said Ismael.

The father of three is an inspiration to his kids, and many others.

“I started the business to show society that blind people can do stuff and make a difference,” said Ismael.

Ismael has sold his boards all over the country through his Blind Guy Boards Facebook page. He also sells them at area craft fairs.

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