Thursday, April 25, 2024

Penning his future


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When Steve Carter started making wooden pens and other items a couple years ago as a hobby, he had no idea it would become his full-time business today.

The Christ Church businessman would have built a bench, his son’s bed, and other items, including book cases for his home. He also made a few cupboards for friends, but the lack of storage space forced him to look for smaller items to craft.

Carter told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that while doing some research for the smaller craft he found an article about someone who made pens and decided to give it a try.

“Originally I wondered if the concept was a good one and conducted some market research on the availability quality, fine crafted pens on the local market.

“Based on research, I felt that an opportunity existed for unique hand-crafted writing instruments,” the owner of Craftworx Designs recalled.

“It is unique and when you have a custom-made pen, there’s nothing else like that in the world. That’s different to other pens that anyone can find on the market. Originally I started with acrylics, which I would purchase from out of the United States.

“One day I was going to collect some mahogany from someone and discovered a slightly charred piece of river tamarind by an open lot. When I brought it home and cut it, you wouldn’t believe what the inside looked like; it was gorgeous. I said, ‘Wow, there’s a use for river tamarind after all’. I did some (pens) and they sold.

“What we try to do is use all sorts of other woods, especially indigenous woods of Barbados. Normally in Barbados when you hear about products made out of wood, the first wood people think of is mahogany . . . mahogany is everywhere but my wife Joy-Ann said, ‘let’s try some other woods’,” Carter said.

Their range of woods used include mahogany, breadfruit, neem, ackee, sea grape, casuarina, and mango and he said that some of the wood is donated by friends or people who know that he could use it.

Craftworx Designs is not limited to pens.  The range of products made include bowls, pepper mills, coasters, book marks, wine bottle stoppers and night lights.

“They’re all small, very nice gift items. The pens do well because they’re very unusual,” he said.

 “. . .  With our pens each one has its signature, the grain of the wood, etc., so you know when you look at the pen it is yours. They are made to order because we have so many different types of wood,” he explained.

Furthermore, the craftsman said that customers can choose a particular styled pen as well as the type of wood and the fittings which include gold, chrome, titanium, rhodium and Swarovski.

“It really is a custom-made pen,” he added.

The decision to go into a full-fledged business came recently and for him the “sky’s the limit”.

Carter noted: “I’ve always enjoyed woodworking because it is kind of like pottery. You can sit and make something fairly quickly. You can’t do that with tiling or masonry; with this craft you can go into the workshop, get a piece of wood and three to four hours later come out with something beautiful.

“It was still a hobby near the end of last year because I was still employed. I became unemployed last year and I was still looking for work, still doing it as a hobby but we’ve decided earlier this year that this is something we’re going to do and run full steam now and tackle it as a business,” said the former telecommunications engineer.

Near And Dear is a project that Carter said he will be embarking on in the near future, which would allow people to preserve some aspect of their furniture which might have deteriorated, particularly mahogany. He could make a pen or a bottle stopper from that item.

That apart, Craftworx will be going after the corporate business sector.

“We plan to focus on that market because we believe that the pens are very appropriate gifts. They’re things that people will use every day rather than sitting at home on a shelf. Each pen is numbered and comes with a certificate of authenticity indicating its qualities and materials used.

“For us, that is our target market, and we hope to be able to continue to innovate what we do to further develop our company’s offerings,” Carter noted.


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