Confucius once said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Who can argue with that wisdom? Certainly not Simon Stanbridge of Tassie Timber Things, who’s taken a life-long passion and turned it into a thriving business.
HOBBY TO JOB(BY)
For the past few years, Simon has been delighting customers with a sleek line of handmade items that range from kitchenware to health and beauty items and other sundry gifts all made from wood unique to Tasmania.
As a Grade 9 student, Simon was first exposed to the possibilities that exist when working with wood. And although he would occasionally sell products at local markets with his Mum and Dad as a kid, his passion for working with wood professionally went unfulfilled.
Fast forward to 2015. Simon’s day-to-day was far from the life of an entrepreneurial artisan. He was in a sales job, selling paint and working a side hustle doing website design for small businesses. One of his clients was a woodworker who would complain that his shop was under-staffed.
“Well, I’ve got an extra day. If you’d like to teach me, I’m interested,” Simon remembers telling his client.
After about three years of working in the wood designer’s workshop, Simon started making his own things, mostly pens and knives which he started selling in local markets. The business grew.
“About a year into running the business, the demand for pens alone was big enough for me to leave my employment and start working for myself full time, doing a mixture of websites and timber things,” Simon recalls. “Then, as I got even more work, the timber business took over.”
These days, Simon can be found in his workshop located on his property about 15 minutes south of Hobart in what he likes to call “the bush.” “We’re on about 90 acres. So, we can make as much noise as we like,” he notes. “That’s why we’ve been able to grow.”
But while his location may be remote, his work is far from solitary. His wife Lois handles prepping orders and shipping product to customers that are direct-to-consumer via their website and to a dozen stores in Tasmania and the Australian mainland. His two teenage sons are also part of the operation. When we spoke with him, his son Ezra was working in an open-air lean-to spraying lacquer on cheese knife handles. And younger son Ben works developing the Tassie Timber Things website.
IF YOU CAN CHOP IT, SIMON CAN MAKE IT
Although the business started with a demand for handmade wood pens, Tassie Timber Things carries a line of fun gift items that include sleek back scratches and even timber bottle stoppers. Kitchenware items include a variety of cheese knives, mini cleavers, pizza cutters and ice cream scoops. But the area of men’s grooming items is where Simon is carving out a niche.
Making razor handles designed to fit Mach3 razors, Simon puts a uniquely Tassie spin on a daily ritual. “The razor handles were popular because no one else was making them,” Simon notes. From handles, he expanded to shaving brushes on the suggestion of one of his vendors.
But the output of Simon’s shop isn’t limited to the items featured on his website. Recently, he’s started to receive commissions for a variety of items of custom items. Simon even found his way into the fashion industry when a clothing designer came to him to create wooden toggles for coats.
ALL ABOUT THE WOOD
As his website states, Tassie Timber Things started with a love of timber. A love that Simon puts into each handmade pen, brush, knife and razor handle he makes. And by choosing only to work with Aussie and Tassie woods, he’s is able to infuse a distinctly local personality into his work.
The rich colors that come in sassafras, myrtle and Australian Blackwood give the craftsman a varied palate to work with. The odd knots characteristic of Banksia wood ensures the distinctiveness of each item. And the use of Huon Pine and Tasmanian oak ensure that he’s able to craft an item as unique as the island state itself..
And while, like the wood he uses, most of Simon’s customers come from Australia, he says that he has “the rest of the world in sight as well.”