Makers Month: The Workbench shop

Hey there, so another week, another maker to treat you to for Makers Month.  This time we have a husband and wife team that make up the great The Workbench Shop.  They make products for designer/makers and people everywhere who want something beautiful made of wood mainly, but I am sure they could turn their hand to most things if asked! ha ha.  They also happen to be the wonderful human beings who bought Hello Sunshine up and so they are a family winning combo really!  Lets have a chat with Janet and Tony.

Tell us a little about The WorkBench Shop
We are a small fledgling company started and run by a husband and wife team.
We make bespoke display stands for designers and makers to show off the things they create at markets and craft fairs.
We also make and install wooden items for around the home such as garden gates, shelving etc and will consider pretty much anything people ask us for.

How did you start the business?
Tony has worked in the timber industry since he was 15!  The last 37 years with the same Nottingham company.  In 2015 & 2016 he underwent surgery to replace his arthritic knees.  Very shortly after the second operation he was made redundant!
In 2010, I was made redundant by a Nottingham computer repair company.   At that time, I was helping to take care of my elderly parents who were getting increasingly more dependent on outside help.  So, I took the opportunity to take a part time job that enabled me to concentrate on them more.
Sadly, my parents passed away within 2 years of each other leaving a massive, huge hole in both our lives as Tony had also taken on the role of carer whilst I was at work.
Anyway, there we were, two empty nesters with only one-part time job between us!  So, what did I do?  I handed my notice in!  I wanted us to concentrate on this small company that we had tentatively started when Tony was made redundant.  We started off by selling some vintage pieces on eBay that had come from my parents’ home.  Pieces that had been treasured for many years and that I wanted to see go somewhere they would continue to be treasured.  Also, we both had a great love of wood and handmade things that we wanted to share with others.  My Dad was a carpenter/joiner and I grew up watching him work in his shed creating things for the home.  Pretty much like Tony does for his family, He is the amazingly talented creative behind what we do and has also spent many years making stuff for craft fairs for our daughter Jo.

Have you always worked for yourselves?
No, we have both previously worked for other people.  Which is what makes this venture so exciting for us. To start something new based around family and the home.

How did you decide to make products for designers/makers?
Tony has always made things around the home and garden.  He’s made beds, bureaux, shelving, cabinets, garden benches etc and helped our daughters with their school and university projects.
Then Jo our daughter (hello Sunshine) designed a display for a craft fair that she was doing and asked her Dad if he would create it for her.  It generated lots of interest and was a great success for her.  That gave us the idea that we could probably help other designer/makers in the same way.

What would be your ideal make?
An ideal make would be to work on something unique and that we have confidence in doing.  Something on which we can offer help, suggestions, and advice and see through to completion.  For example, the jewellery stand for Esther (Petrichoralia) or the shop displays for Rhea (Handmade Nottingham)

How do you find working with designer/makers – do you find you are making more bespoke pieces?
We always find it a pleasure to work with designer/makers.  We have met some wonderfully talented people and hopefully made some new friends.   Ideally, we like to produce what they design but we help with suggestions and ideas.  We love to meet people face to face to discuss projects.

Where do you see Workbench Shop going?
The sky’s the limit really!    We would really like to have enough work to be making and creating at least one project a week with a dedicated workshop full of tools and gadgets to help with this.  It would also be fabulous if designer/makers thought of us in terms of ‘the people to go to’ for bespoke display stands.
We would also love to develop the vintage side.  Maybe have an area in Hopkinson’s of Nottingham or somewhere similar to sell the selection of vintage items we have which will enable us to look out for more pieces on our travels.

Tell us a bit about what you have coming up?  Any little projects you want to tell us about.
We have been working on a market stall display for a shoe designer/maker in London which is exciting and we have recently been contacted by a well-known gallery shop regarding some work they might want us to do.
We love coming up with new and fun things to put in our Etsy Shop such as our dominoes clock and we have new ideas for trugs and garden planters etc.

Whose products do you like most? ( I told them not to pick you Jo!  he he)
That’s a tough one!  There are many designer/makers that we follow on Instagram and we have seen at various craft fairs and markets around the country.
We particularly admire people like Rhea of Handmade Nottingham and Lucy of Two Little Magpies in Beeston who work extremely hard to promote and sell for their creative community.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?
We love to get active visiting and discovering new places.  We like cycling and walking.
We also like to rummage in charity and antique shops and car boot sales looking for inspiration and ideas for our etsy shop.

Loving all the work that The Workbench shop are getting up to, all the beautiful wood and made so well.  You should defo check them out next time you want some craft fair pieces, you can find them on Etsy too.  Also, how cute is this pic that Sunshine Jo did of them!  Just had to put it in.

H & Sammy, xxx

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