Will Brennan, furniture maker
“I suppose I've just always been a maker of stuff,” says Will Brennan, sitting in the old apple storage shed that is now home to his custom furniture workshop.
Will — who was born in Warren, but grew up here in Orange — went off to get a degree in agribusiness after school and then furthered his study, adding a Masters in Mining Engineering while working out at Cadia.
But something kept drawing him back to the idea of working with his hands. So, four years ago, he took the leap and went into furniture making full time.
“Yeah, I think my parents thought I was pretty mad having two degrees behind me and then venturing into this!” said Will.
“But at the same time, I think they knew this was something I wanted and they were really supportive.”
Will’s very first piece of furniture was actually a dining table he made for his parents in the backyard. It was a simple steel frame and timber top design, but then a few more items followed, and it just grew.
“The first couple of tables I made were just in the backyard and then eventually I got a little garage, a friend's car garage and then slowly evolved to this,” said Will, gesturing to the large, well-equipped workshop space he now rents.
“It just sort of morphed and snowballed slowly but surely into bigger and better things. I don't know how it happened looking back. I wish I could give you a clearer description of how that went but I’ve now been four years full-time in business.”
There is always a bit of risk moving from doing something as a hobby to doing it as your main source of income and Will admits it wasn’t always easy.
“It was slow; it was a real grind every day. You know, you get up try and sell, doorknock, just get as much out there as possible. I've had plenty of mistakes along the way and I’ll probably have more to come,” said Will.
“There have definitely been days where you question what you’re doing. I think with any business, you always hope to be busier, but then when you actually stop and smell the roses you realise that you're busier than you were last week or two months ago or a year ago. It just takes time to stop and realise it.
“I think one thing that really helped me take the leap is my wife. You know, I wouldn't have been able to do it on my own, so she's been pretty solid throughout the whole thing.”
Will’s work ranges from making chopping boards right through to bathroom vanities, chairs, tables, full dining suites, commercial pub fit outs… in fact there’s not much he’ll say no too!
“Everything! The more curly the better. I suppose that the trickier they are the more fun I find them. Like, I made a coffee cart on wheels that went to Sydney and I'll be making a couch in January. Any out of the ordinary type stuff I’ll build,” said Will.
“A lot of my work is actually people finding things that they love on Instagram or Pinterest that they can't buy in Australia, or it's out of their price bracket, or they can't find the dimensions they need, so then we'll sit down to design it together and hopefully I’ll give them a finished product that they love.”
Speaking of Instagram, it is worth a look at Will’s own feed. It seems too much time alone in the workshop can lead to strange behaviours being caught on video.
Not that Will may be alone too much longer, as he is hoping to put someone on his payroll by the end of the year.
“We’re starting to get some traction now, getting good clients into Sydney, more commercial jobs coming through. So, hopefully I'll be putting a person on in the next few months, which is exciting… and scary!”
Will has some big dreams for his small business and — one day — would love to see his work heading into overseas markets or sold through his own shopfront.
But for now, he is happy for the chance to do something he loves.
“I love making stuff. There is a fun creative side to it, you know, and nothing I make is the same, everything just turns into a puzzle of how you're going to make it,” said Will.
“And when you deliver a piece and people love it and it might even become some sort of family heirloom — my pieces will outlast my lifetime — so it's pretty cool thinking about that.
“And I really love doing it here in Orange. It's growing and it's exciting, there are a great group of makers and creative artist around here as well… it's truly cool!”