CMSK Collaborative

CMSK Collaborative

Durable Goods, Enduring Style

A fledgling manufacturing company in Bethlehem took its initial product – the Keystone Comb – to market in December 2021. With this exquisitely crafted device, company co-founder/owners Connor Moriarty and Sean Kernan transformed a simple and inexpensive (and basically disposable) grooming tool for men and elevated it into a product that will last a lifetime, or even become a family heirloom. (Consider presenting one to dad on Father’s Day, or giving them as thoughtful groomsmen gifts at your wedding.) A combination of strength, resilience, and singular design makes this object pleasurable to look at, hold, and use. And it represents years of planning and experimentation prior to the finalized execution and formal market launch.  

For an optimal combination of form, beauty, and function, components of the compact folding pocket comb encompass the finest quality materials available. The dual segments of teeth are made of Italian cellulose acetate, a natural non-petroleum-based plastic that is lightweight, strong, and hypoallergenic – making it a top choice for premium eyeglass frames. Color selections of teeth include black, wood grain, and tortoise. If a tooth would somehow break, a replacement section of teeth may be inserted by removing the stainless steel screws – which will never rust – from the spine and inserting the new portion. A super-strong titanium clip secures the comb in your pocket. The brass spines, which impart a timeless elegance to the design, will eventually acquire a soft patina. However, they can also be polished according to your aesthetic preference. As a final detail, the keystone emblem on the hinge not only proclaims the comb’s provenance but serves the traditional function of a final piece that secures parts in place. And each comb is distinguished with a serial number. The partners are always exploring upgrades, which may eventually include engraving for a personalized gift.

The partners of CMSK Collaborative take pride in adapting equipment to meet their needs for precision in a machine shop workspace located in a garage. While mega-companies such as Microsoft, Apple, and Google were incubated in garage environments, Moriarty and Kernan have no aspirations of global dominance for the Keystone Comb and other products in the design pipeline – such as a wishbone-shaped money clip that’s reflective of the company logo. For them, this is a gratifying passion project about the creative hands-on machining process, and both are well-credentialed professionals with careers in unrelated fields. 

Moriarty, a licensed psychotherapist, focuses on trauma and recovery in his private practice, Reset Outdoors – a counseling service that assists families and individuals reconnect with nature to live healthy and balanced lives. A life-long interest in metalworking included formal training in gold- and silversmithing. Kernan, on the other hand, was educated in chemical engineering and worked for a heavy equipment manufacturer in the oil and gas industry. This experience stimulated a fascination with machining and the processes used in making things. His independent engineering consulting business, Tangency Designs, integrates 3D Modeling/CAD on a host of hugely diverse projects. Clearly, both partners possess an entrepreneurial mindset that embraces innovation and seeks out change and improvement. It’s logical that their shared sense of passion and purpose would result in the formation of CMSK Collaborative. But first they had to meet.     

The Northampton Community College Fab Lab served as the linchpin in connecting these two men. Kernan, whose pursuit of “making excellent objects” led him to take classes at the automated design and fabrication manufacturing laboratory at the Fowler Campus in SouthSide Bethlehem. He was struck with an idea of making a folding pocket comb, but realized that would require a skillset, expertise, and level of craftsmanship he didn’t have – and probably didn’t have the time to acquire. “This vision was burning a hole in my head and I wanted to get it out,” says Kernan, “So I asked the Fab Lab director to introduce me to someone who might be able to help make this object.” Moriarty was his recommendation, and when Kernan showed him the design he exclaimed, “Whoa! This is cool.” That was in 2016. Although the relationship started out mainly contractual, as they started working together the men became – and remain – fast friends. Rather than being proprietary about their processes, Moriarty and Kernan value transparency in sharing their operation and techniques with an avid community of makers who follow their endeavors on social media. Questions and suggestions for future projects are always welcomed. These guys live to engage – and to make things.

The Keystone Comb can be purchased online at The shipping container is as well thought out as its contents, using a durable, sustainably made cardboard tube that can be repurposed as, say, a pencil holder on a workbench. Inside, the comb is cushioned by being wrapped in a custom-made bandana rather than disposable packing material. “We always keep an eye on natural resources and have worked really hard on packaging that not only looks beautiful, but functions to protect the comb in transit,” Moriarty says. “It’s something that people will feel really good about opening.” And they will feel even better about using this extraordinary comb. 

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