What’s the first thought that comes to your mind when you think of a carpenter? Do you imagine a man in his thirties, barely educated, always showing up with threadbare clothes and smelling of sawdust? While that might be the reality in some cases, every now and then, someone or a group of people emerge that re-write the script and break the stereotypes of a certain profession. Enter Tk and Kenny, graduates of law and marketing respectively, who run the Urban Craft, a bespoke carpentry company situated in the Abuja metropolis.
We caught up with the young carpenters to learn why they are taking the path less taken and the joys and challenges of running their business:
Tell us about your business?
We deal primarily with the production and maintenance of furniture. We produce all home and office furniture with the exclusion of doors.
What inspired you guys to go into carpentry?
T.k: What inspired me was my family and friends, I decided to make furniture while in NYSC camp. I choose it as my Skills Acquisition & Entrepreneurship Department (SAED) project, but I honestly wasn’t passionate about it until my sister told me that she believes I have the potential to succeed in furniture making. She took it a step further by acquiring machines for me and encouraging me physically, spiritually and financially. My friends were also integral in the birthing process of my carpentry journey; they would hit me up and ask me to produce something for them or tell me they gave someone my number. The encouragement from family and friends has helped greatly.
Kenny: Well my inspiration came when I saw my friend Tk making a drawer for someone, he was still in the learning process at the time so I decided to learn as well, this isn’t a passion, but somehow, I love what I do. Carpentry covers everything, furniture makers are like fashion designers or tailors. We create with our hands.
Was it highly capital intensive starting up?
Furniture making can be highly capital intensive when starting up but that’s a challenge almost every entrepreneur must face . Sourcing for capital wasn’t easy. I mean we had to buy equipments, source for a place where we now call our workshop and where major production takes place, it’s not been an easy task but we are hopeful it’ll reap dividends over time.
What has been the most rewarding part of it all?
Creating something out of nothing is like giving life, so the most rewarding part to us is the fact that we take wood and spin it into something meaningful and beautiful. Oh, and we get paid for it too so thats awesome!
What has been the most challenging part of it all?
The most challenging part of this job is that fact that we get new injuries everyday (laughter), it’s not easy to use tools like this, but we are getting a hang of it, another challenging part is meeting up with deliveries, most clients are not patient enough but like they say the customers are always right and we are here to serve them!
What’s a perception about carpenters you hope to change with your business?
Carpenters are not failed people, the fact that they are viewed by many Nigerians as a failed group of persons (poor people) is really bad.
Tell us a fun fact no one knows about the carpentry business?
It’s the easiest hand work on earth to pick up and not too many people venture into this line of business.
If someone wants to venture into your business path what advice will you give them?
It’s easy to pick up and slow to perfect so don’t ever give up. Also you will need patience, dedication and discipline.
Where do you see the Urban Craft in 5 Years?
Well, the future is definitely bright! We hope to own a big furniture company in that will deliver furniture on a daily basis to offices and homes across the 36 states in Nigeria with a working capacity of over 100 employees. We also hope to open a school or an institute where young furniture makers can be trained.