Chippy turned Furniture Maker, Al Roberts
Chippy turned Furniture Maker; Al Roberts - one half of Al and Imo Handmade answers a few questions about his journey switching from tradesman to business owner, what it's like to work with his wife and exiting new projects on the horizon.
WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO YOU?
My beautiful wife, my family and the people around me. LIVING - doing things everyday that make me
HOW DID YOU GET INTO FURNITURE MAKING & WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I was a carpenter for 8 years before I moved into furniture making. We made ourselves a bed and it was a slow, natural progression from there. At first I made furniture on weekends, then I started taking Monday's off and before I knew it I was woking on Al and Imo from home full-time. I think it took about 3 months for it to really hit me that I was getting paid to do what I love! If you have a passion - you go for it. I think my background in carpentry definitely influences our designs - practical and robust. I also come from a family of designers and artists - my grandfather also makes furniture so I think it's embedded in me - thanks Pa!
A DAY LOOKS LIKE?
My alarm will go off at quarter to six, I leave my phone outside our bedroom while we sleep which means I have to jump out of bed to turn it off. I'll get up and make coffee, while it's brewing I stretch and check the surf. Once the coffee is brewed I jump back into bed and wake up Imo, unless the surf is pumping and then I'm out the door. We've been reading a book together in the morning called "Homework for Grownups" - we'll pick a section and read it out-loud taking turns. Our bedroom has nice big corner windows which have a view out to the paddocks, our morning ritual waking up with the sun is my favourite time of the day.
Once we've woken up slowly, it's breakfast time followed by a quick meeting to catch each other up on what's going on with the business, then I head out to the workshop. We work / live together in the same space with each other - it can be hard to seperate personal and business so it's important for us to have dedicated time to "talk shop".
I love what I do so walking into the workshop every morning is a treat and anytime I have a bad moment I think to myself "What would I rather be doing...?" My current workshop is 3.5m x 6m - it's a small space but some of my best memories are between those walls. We're in the process of designing a new space which is really exciting.
During the day I listen to podcasts and music. Imo and I have lunch together and in the afternoon i'll do a workout - either at home where I have weights set up or head to the gym for a session and a steam.
Imo and I love to cook so dinner time is always fun - we listen to music and make dinner together, often we have friends over - tonight we have friends coming over for Sri Lankan curries and rice which we learnt at a series of cooking classes on our recent honeymoon.
We're in bed early and usually asleep between 9.30 - 10.30pm.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON?
I'm currently working on a Scandi Bed, Square Shelf Bed, new bedside table designs and a new bed for ourselves! We are forever delivering nice pieces to our customers and finally it's our turn to make ourselves a new bed - we're working on a platform design with extended headboard with built-in bedside tables. I can't wait to see the result! We have a long list of "home projects" that keeps growing everyday! The project I'm most looking forward to is designing a new workshop - I've grown out of my current space.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING / LISTENING TO?
LAST 3 BOOKS -
Chasing The Scream - Johan Hari
The Handmade's Tale - Margaret Atwood
Lucifer Falls - Colin Falconer
Eddy Current Suppression Ring
I'm currently listening to Mind Pump (fitness/ business) and Do Go On (Comedy).
Stand-out podcast episodes -
JOCKO PODCAST - EP #100 WITH TIM FERRISS.
Musashi, and How Warrior Way Relates To Life
JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE - EP #1200 WITH ROSS EDGLEY
Swimming Around Great Britain
RICH ROLL - EP #379 WITH JOHN MCAVOY
From armed robbery to professional athlete — One man reformed through the power of sport
HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
Surfing, exercise, cups of tea on the couch. We also like chucking the mattress in the back of our trusty van "Bruce" and heading down the coast.
HOW DO YOU FIND WORKING WITH YOUR PARTER?
To be honest - working with Imo is the best and I wouldn't be doing what I love everyday without her. She's my biggest support and the driver behind our business. It took us a while to establish our roles in the business and at first we both tried to do everything (Imo on the tools and me on the computer) it didn't go well. Now that we've figured out our strengths, stick to them and just trust each other everything works smoothly.
ADVICE FOR SOMEONE WANTNG TO PuRSUE THEIR PASSION?
If you're thinking about moving or trying something new - do it. The worst that could happen is you don't like it and you can go back. Don't waste your time wondering 'what if'.
We’ve started this journal in hope that through us sharing stories like Al’s it encourages others to -
To follow your passion project.
Support local artists and makers.
OUR HOPE IS THAT THROUGH US SHOWCASING SMALL, LOCAL AND ETHICAL ARTISTS/ MAKERS/ BUSINESSES IT ENCOURAGES OTHERS TO SUPPORT LOCALLY, HANDMADE.