Blake Adams, senior agribusiness major, has a knack for creating chalk bags and leather hiking products through his small business, Salt and Chalk Co., out of his apartment here in Starkville.
Adams is a Huntsville, Ala. native who came to Mississippi State University because of its focus on agriculture. With his agribusiness degree, he said he hopes to keep creating exciting, innovative products while using his degree to promote the products.
“Part of why I’m pursuing this is because it [the climbing market] has real growth and an opportunity to do something I like doing,” Adams said.
Growing up with his dad’s woodshop close by, Adams began his venture into creative building when he was a kid. His father worked with wood and his mother sewed, which eventually manifested into Adams’ interests as well. Adams also has an older brother who works with crafting metal. Blake created one of his first chalk bags out of leather from his dad’s old couch, fabric from a short-sleeve shirt and fleece material from sweatpants.
When he is not making new products, Adams said he loves running and hiking. He runs marathons, his most recent one being last December, and hikes as much as he can across the country.
Adams’ cross-country hikes took him to a section hike, a method of hiking small parts of a long trial, in the Appalachian Mountains the summer after his freshman year. The trail was several hundred miles and Adams spent two weeks on this trail. He hiked from the start all the way to Clingmans Dome, which the highest point along the Appalachian Trail at an elevation of about 6,643 feet.
His hiking has taken him all over the country, but Big Bend National Park in west Texas stands out to Adams. The trail spans from the Rio Grande up to the Chisos Mountains, with an elevation of 4,000 feet along the trail. Adams hiked Big Bend during spring break with his friends Sam Akers, senior forestry major, and Jacob Herring, MSU alum, and spent four days “in the middle of nowhere.”
Adams said he has been a bit “out of commission” lately, stemming from problems with his sewing machine, but he says plans to be back at it again as soon as next week.
“I’ve been out of commission because my sewing machine broke. It was just a little rinky-dink sewing machine that I ran four layers of leather through, and it was not meant to do what it was doing,” Adams said.
Along with his outdoor interests, Adams loves podcasts and coffee, with Nine-Twentynine Coffee Bar being his favorite place in Starkville. Some of his favorite podcasts are "How I Built This" and "Freakanomics." He said also enjoys folk artists such as Bon Iver and Pinegrove.
As he is approaching graduation, Adams has become more serious about getting Salt and Chalk Co. off the ground. Adams has been conducting lots of market research on the climbing industry and surveying different people at climbing places to make his vision fully realized.
His friend Sam Akers believes in the quality of Adams' products.
“Blake is the most detail-oriented person I know, completely obsessive about his work and won’t have anything less than perfection if he’s going to put his name on it,” Akers said.
Adams said he finishes up at MSU in December and plans to complete the rest of his credit hours at a nearby community college. He hopes to move to Chattanooga, Tenn. with his wife, Sarah Adams, in the near future to take advantage of the thriving climbing scene and develop his craft even more. Sarah Adams said she believes her spouse's business is headed for success.
“I think Salt and Chalk Co. has the potential to fill a hole in the climbing market, and Blake is coming in at the perfect time to cater to that niche," Sarah Adams said.