Wood is his game –– and gain
His inspiration for making his products comes from the pieces of woods he uses. He takes any piece of timber from almost any tree and turns it into a work of art.
Steve Carter, 49, is the managing director of Craftworx Designs. He is one of the finalists in this year’s Small Business Association (SBA) People’s Choice Award.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY recently at his Sunrise Street, Atlantic Shores, Christ Church home, the entrepreneur shared how he started making items from wood about 15 years ago as a hobby.
Craftworx Designs sells a range of products, including exquisite pens, kitchenware, bowls, mirrors and purse hangers. These products are made from a variety of woods, including of shak shak, bay leaf, wild tamarind, cordia, river tamarind and mahogany.
“I started off primarily by doing things around the house. When my son was born, I made his bed, a bench for him, and
that sort of thing.
“But you always need things being done around the house when it comes to woodwork. So that is how I started doing woodwork. Then I started making bookshelves, tables and stools,” explained Carter.
However, about two years ago, while working as an engineer at a telecommunication company, Carter decided he would make various items as a part-time job, since people would ask him for products.
And in September, 2014, when he no longer had full-time employment, that was when he started to place more emphasis on the business. But it wasn’t until March this year that Carter formally started his company Craftworx Designs as a full-time operation.
Saying he always had “an entrepreneurial spirit”, Carter declared: “I always say that any hobby I have has to be a hobby that can generate income, rather than one that takes away income. So that is why woodworking was such a good fit.
It allows us to be creative and generate some revenue.”
Carter gets some help from his wife, especially on weekends and evenings.
The former Harrison College student, who also did some organic agriculture and work in Britain, said over the years he would participate in craft shows where people would fall in love with his products almost instantly upon seeing them.
He and his wife entered a total of eight pieces in NIFCA last year, winning six bronze medals.
“We are going again this year, and we are going for gold. It was an experience, and some things we figured out,” he declared.
Carter, who while in secondary school wanted to be a pilot, said he already had plans to expand into the corporate market, especially with his pens.
“We have done fairly well so far with the corporate orders that we have had,” said Carter.
“We are also now looking at getting into some retail outlets as well. So we are going through the process of trying to position the products where they should be, because some products can go some places; some can’t,” he explained, adding that there was also “some interest” in export.
Sourcing the wood is no trouble for Carter. He purchases the mahogany specifically for some of the items. However, he often gets timber from friends and other people who are cutting down trees.
Speaking about his inspiration, Carter declared: “As far as I am concerned, every piece of wood is perfect.”
And pointing to a piece of wood with a hole, which he said some people would discard, Carter said: “It adds character.”
He was quick to point out that one of his bowls, Imperfect Yet Perfect, made from a piece of wood with holes, managed to land him an award in the NIFCA competition.
“So I really get my inspiration from the wood. When it comes to the pens, they have to take a certain form to match the fittings, but I go through the process of trying to match wood with a style of pen,” he said.
Some of his pens are outfitted with gold, rhodium and other precious metals as plating. The pens also have a sheen finish.
They range in price from $150 to $675. Carter said a lot of people liked to purchase the pens as gifts.
One item can take as little as half-hour to create, and as long as four hours.
This entrepreneur said he was not worried about any competition, pointing out that people involved in woodwork or carving each had their own niche.
Carter is comfortable with his pace of growth, acknowledging that he has “a lot further to go”.
And pointing out that he went into the SBA People’s Choice Award finals as No. 1 from the Facebook voting, Carter said it gave him “a sense of accomplishment”.