How one man created an empire living out his childhood dreams

He was hearing sound effects from the womb.

“My mom says that she was watching ‘Empire Strikes Back’ when she went into labor,” said Jonathan Rossi, creator of Sabers Forever, a saber installation company that has over 34K Instagram followers and commissions from celebrities.

For those who don’t know what a saber is, Rossi explains, “It’s that awe-inspiring mystical weapon. A sword utilized more like a tool than a weapon. It’s also the symbol for the Jedi, which has such a great uplifting presence. Always do the right thing. It inspires rather than makes you fear it.”

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Since Rossi was a kid growing up in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania he was always into swords. He remembers his grandmother buying him foam swords from the toy store. And, of course, he was into the movie “Star Wars.”

The 36-year-old Trenton resident shared, “I’m an original trilogy fan. I love the original three. I would say it’s always been something I’ve been fascinated in.”

Rossi also liked working with his hands. “I knew I wanted to, in any manner, with wood, plastic…I wanted to make a saber.” In high school he took a wood working class and tried to figure out ways to make sabers.

Toys R Us sold blades that would light up, but Rossi said the sound wasn’t good. He’d watch one of the “Star Wars” movies and realized the sound didn’t mimic the movie. He did research online and found a community of people who made them more accurate; people who had degrees and were manufacturing them.

The first saber Rossi built was in 2014 and he has been making them full time the past two years. He does all the electronic work that is involved—sound, lights, different looks to the blade. Being attracted to the audio aspect of production, Rossi also incorporates light and sound. The tracking of the motion was the most impressive part to Rossi. “If you’re moving it slowly, it will hum a different hum. If you move it faster, it sounds louder.”

Rossi’s biggest clientele are Star Wars fans who are 30 years old or older. “They’re not within the budget for kids,” he shared. Some of Rossi’s custom sabers are sold for as much as $2,300.

There are different styles of sabers replete with intricate designs and materials. “They could have spinning-motion action, crystals, all different kinds of speakers. They’re all different sizes,” Rossi explained.

While there are a lot of competitors in the market, Rossi sees it more as a community with buyers and makers alike. “We all talk to each other,” he said. “Everyone’s showcasing their innovations. I help a lot of people get into this at entry level. They don’t know where to start. I’ll point them in the right direction. It’s not very easy. There’s a huge learning curve.”

In the beginning, making sabers was something Rossi did on the side for fun, but eventually he got to the point where he began charging for his work and it exploded after Instagram did a feature post on him which yielded Rossi 42,000 Instagram followers the next day. He’s doing so well that he has celebrity clientele including Post Malone and Jack Black.

He feels very lucky and attributes his success to his wife coaxing him to pursue his passion full time. “She was my inspiration,” he said. “I was feeling a lot of pressure at my last job. It was making me miserable. I remember feeling I was wasting my time at my day job.”

Since Rossi works from home and doesn’t have an actual office, he says he could work all day and night. “I’ll stop working because I have to feed myself,” he shared.

For the past two years, Rossi has been immersed in his career, but when he’s not working, he likes to spend time with his wife and seven pets—a dog that’s a Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix, a bearded dragon, two dwarf rabbits, and three birds.

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