In recent years, sharing communities and networks have revolutionised the way we book accommodation, travel in cars and borrow tools and equipment. Today, we chat with Fred (pictured), founder of Handkrafted, a website dedicated to helping discerning buyers seek and find unique, high-quality and sustainably produced goods and connect with the right craftspeople and artisans. We are so excited by the possibilities this opens up for our community, read on to learn more.
Tell us a bit about Handkrafted and the concept behind it?
Handkrafted connects people directly with local craftspeople and artisans to get goods custom made.
You simply post a brief describing what you would like made and shortly after you’ll receive proposals from interested makers. You can then commission the maker you feel is the most suited.
There are such talented makers in our community – it’s often just hard to find them. Many people don’t realise that getting something custom made by a local and independent maker is even an option. We showcase makers who are committed to high-quality craftsmanship and who create beautiful and unique bespoke objects that are made to last.
We launched with an initial focus on Australian woodworkers and bespoke furniture makers and we will soon expand to other crafts.
What is your background and what lead you to where you are today?
I have always valued quality design and craftsmanship and I believe strongly in the importance of things being made well and made to last. Over the years I’ve lovingly maintained several old vintage cars, a beautiful 1940s timber putt-putt and lots of vintage and antique furniture. It frustrates me that so much of what is made today barely lasts a few years before being discarded.
Thankfully there are lots of amazing craftspeople producing quality goods and I’m of the view that more and more people are seeking them out – Handkrafted was established to help facilitate those connections.
It’s a concept that I had been thinking about and evolving in some form or another for quite some time. However prior to launching Handkrafted, I spent many years building and managing online platforms in the banking and corporate world. I always had a strong desire to try my hand at a more entrepreneurial and creative pursuit and this urge only grew more powerful over the years – and thankfully now here I am.
125 Desk by Peter Bollington of Curious Tales
Vista St Dining Table by Nathan Day
Can you tell us a bit about the craftspersons and artists on Handkrafted?
There is so much diversity among the hundreds of woodworkers and furniture makers in the Handkrafted community.
From extremely high-end and fine furniture makers, to contemporary makers innovatively incorporating materials such as steel and concrete into their designs, to those who specialise in reclaimed timbers, and the many emerging makers.
This diversity means we are able to find just the right craftsperson to satisfy the huge variety of briefs we receive. Whether that be for a very specific style such as this Japanese inspired small cabinet by Damion Fauser Fine Woodwork, or perhaps a certain type of material like that used in this mobile concrete breakfast bar by Relm Furniture. It’s our aim to bring the customers’ personal vision to life, whatever this maybe.
There are few things I enjoy more than meeting with our makers … there’s something special about talented people doing something they love. I really believe that humans have an innate desire to make things, to create, to leave a mark … there’s a sense of fulfilment among makers that I just find so inspiring.
What do you love about Handkrafted and what keeps you inspired?
I’m forever inspired by the by the beautiful stories we are exposed to each day at Handkrafted.
Meeting makers and learning their incredible stories. Stories about the provenance of the materials they use. Stories about the tools and techniques they employ. Stories about our clients and why they are looking to commission a unique piece of their own. And of course stories about how those items commissioned via Handkrafted are used and enjoyed.
Most people, myself included, have become so removed from the production of many of the objects in our everyday lives. We rarely have insight into not only where things are made, where and how the raw materials are sourced, who made them and under what working conditions. And that’s why the experience in connecting directly with a maker is so rewarding; we’re able to participate in the design and production process and in doing so, develop more of an emotional connection with those items – a necessity if we’re going to consume more consciously and sustainably.
Shoji Cabinet by Damion Fauser
Sissyneck Lamp by Andrew Christie at A Good Looking Man
What advice would you give to people looking at collaborating with makers on Handkrafted?
Collaborating on a custom made piece of furniture is an adventure with a unique result that is entirely personal to you but it does help to keep a few things in mind:
Firstly, make sure you put some thought into the brief and be as specific as you can about what you are looking for in the final piece, whether this be materials, size, design features, the space where it is to be placed and of course its use. Attach any photos that inspire you and reference what you like and don’t like about these pieces.
Secondly, be clear about your budget. If you only want to spend a certain amount, make sure you communicate this. This will help the maker determine what materials and features can be accommodated within this. Getting something custom made by an expert craftsperson is rarely an exercise in buying something at the lowest possible price. Yet the true value of getting something custom made will often exceed the price paid.
Finally, be open to ideas and suggestions from the makers as your design evolves. Having something custom made is a true collaboration so take advantage of the makers’ expertise and experience as you work through the process to ensure you end up with the best possible result.
What valuable lessons have you learnt about running your own business?
Where do I start? I’ve learnt so much and continue to do so every day. Here are a few that spring to mind:
Prioritisation and focus are essential. You can only do so much and trying to do everything at the same time is dangerous – you risk doing nothing very well.
The importance of managing your own expectations. While it’s all good and well to have a clear vision of the incredible business you aspire to build, it’s easy to overlook the fact that great things are not achieved overnight. I’ve learned that beating yourself up is futile; have confidence that what’s more important is that you have the passion and perseverance (with perhaps a small dose of patience) to continue working towards that vision. Admittedly I’m still very much on that journey, so perhaps check back with me 😉
Learn to listen to your instincts. A friend once mentioned that her most valuable business lesson was that it’s important to seek to the advice of everyone, but at the end of the day you have to trust yourself. While simple and somewhat clichéd advice, it’s often easier said than done.
Walnut Serving Boards & Spoons by Alichia at Hearth Collective
left: Completed client project – by Luke and Veronica at CHRISTOPHER BLANK. Right: Josh Pinkus
What new things do you have planned for Handkrafted in 2015?
We’re working on a suite of enhancements to make finding, connecting and commissioning skilled craftspeople even easier. Richer portfolios, improved search and shared collections are just a few examples.
I’m particularly excited by the additional crafts we’ll soon be adding – the quality and calibre of the craftspeople and artisans we’ve found is just so inspiring!
If you know any talented makers, tell them to apply on via our website at www.handkrafted.com