Meet Tobias, a young entrepreneur and craftsman from the UK. We had the chance to visit him in Gloucester and photograph him as he worked on building his new workshop. Read the interview below.
I’m a 23-year-old craftsman from Gloucester. I use mostly recycled and reclaimed materials to create unique and bespoke home decor and lifestyle products. I’ve been running the business for about three and a half years.
At first, it was a bit of a hobby, and—to be honest—a quick fix for some much-needed cash! I had recently been laid off from a position as a dental technician, and I had an internship in youth work with a church that had finished around the same time. The first thing I made was just something to keep me busy while I was bored. I loved it, so I started making a few more things and casually posting them on social media. I started getting messages asking for prices!
I was always passionate about making things and designing. When I was a kid, I would always be in my grandfather’s workshop or helping dad out around the house and in the garage. At school, I thrived in the practical subjects where I was able to let my creative side out, so I guess my business now is just an extension of what I was doing at school.
Loads of people! My whole Instagram feed is amazing people who had a dream and just ran with it—craftsmen and women who are chasing their goals and doing very well along the way. One particular creative comes to mind, though: Benny Gold. It’s a clothing brand out of San Francisco. I think he started off as a graphic designer and ended up being sick of his 9 to 5 job, so he started a brand. Now he’s got a massive operation going on in San Francisco, and the way he has branded himself and his attention to detail blows me away. It’s just one example of someone who, like I said, had a dream and just ran with it. There are so many more influencers out there, but he’s the first one who comes to mind.
Where would you like to see your business go?
I think the main thing for me is that I want to be comfortable. I don’t care about selling hundreds of items and earning loads of money—it’s never been about that. I just want to get into the workshop every morning and still be as passionate about making things as I was when I first started. I’ve been around people my entire life who are fixated on earning more than the next person and having the latest thing. They end up being miserable and unfulfilled, and that’s a place I never want to be in.
What have been your best and worst experiences in what you do so far?
There are far more great experiences than bad, which is always a positive! The worst one has got to be when you have one of those months when nothing is shifting. January is always a tough one. It’s also very hard when people comment saying how beautiful something is and how much they love it, but then no one wants to buy it! That’s when life gets tough. If it weren’t for part-time work with a tree surgeon, I would’ve struggled massively!
The best experiences though are just the freedom and joy I get from being self-employed, doing something I love, and making things that other people love. On top of that, I’ve met some incredible friends and amazingly talented people. That’s when the bad days are totally outnumbered and I remember how fortunate I actually am!
Who and what inspire you?
My inspiration doesn’t necessarily always come from other craftsmen, but often from designers, preachers, people I meet through friends, etc. I was recently at an event where the CEO of Hope For Justice, Ben Cooley, was speaking, and what he had to say about starting up a business and running it absolutely blew me away. People like that have such a wealth of knowledge and so much to give that you can’t help but be inspired by them.
I’m also inspired so much by nature and creation. It blows my mind! I’m so lucky to have been brought up appreciating the countryside, and now I have a beautiful little workshop on a picturesque farmyard, where the beauty of creation is all around to inspire me every day!
Does your faith play a big role in what you do?
Definitely! So much more than I would’ve thought it would when I first started the business. I fully believe my faith has brought me to certain people I’ve met and given me all the opportunities that have come my way. I also pray a lot! I pray for safety, more opportunities, I even pray over materials and products. Every event I go to where I’ll be selling my stuff, I always send a prayer up while I’m on my way there, and often on the way home, too, to thank God for his goodness after a successful day.
Have there been times that you wanted to quit? What has kept you going?
Oh yeah. So, so, so many times! When I’ve been totally broke and just seeing absolutely no progress, I’ve wanted to pack it in and get a normal job. But, people encourage me and really back me, and that keeps me going every time. I’ve got so many people in my life that I’m thankful for, people who have picked me up when I’ve been down, people who have been so generous with financial support and people who have been so supportive and encouraging through prayer.
What would you say to someone trying to pursue a career similar to yours?
Keep going and fully commit. It wasn’t until recently when I started committing and getting a bit more routine in my working day that I started seeing real fruit and progress. It’s absolutely crucial to get into a routine, rather than rolling out of bed whenever you want and having a few coffees before actually starting work. Also, network as much as you can. I mentioned in a previous response the amazing people I’ve met through what I do. They haven’t come about from me sitting alone in my workshop in solitude every day. They’ve come about from me emailing people, connecting through Instagram, asking to grab a coffee or meet at their workspace for a chat. It’s a way to meet amazing people, and visiting other people’s workspaces is hugely beneficial and inspiring.
How would you describe success?
I’d say being fulfilled and content in what you do and what you have. ‘Happy is the man who wants what he has’… That’s the dream!