Five minutes with 2nd Chance founder: Chris Booth
Chris, aged 7 - rockin' out
Tell us a little about your experience of running a business?
As anyone who starts and runs a small business will tell you, it’s like cuddling up with an echidna, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do. To give a rough idea of my day, I wake up at 5am (one hour before my attention-demanding toddler) every day to answer emails. I’m at the workshop by 7:30am and work until 4pm. I’m back on the laptop at about 8:30pm after the manic toddler has gone to bed, and I make computer renderings of designs for customers and do admin until about 10pm. I work every public holiday and answer emails every spare moment I have so work doesn’t build up later. It’s constant juggling between, making furniture, admin, customer service and preventing from working myself to complete deterioration. To be utterly honest, it’s EXHAUSTING and if I didn’t love what I did, it could easily be construed as a mild form of torture
How did 2nd Chance Tables begin?
I was a carpenter and builder for over a decade before all this, so I was no stranger to running a business. This gave me a somewhat cavalier approach to furniture making; “Timber?!” I said “and asking people for money for it?!” I sneered. “Yep, I can do that”. Wrong! All I was really able to transfer over was the fact that I loved MAKING, that’s it. But that’s all I needed to build around, and it’s the same thing that draws me out of bed and into the workshop or to the computer or to the client meeting each and every morning.
How does your partnership with your wife work at 2nd Chance Tables? Do you drive each other mad?
A short time after my wife and I started 2nd Chance we also decided to complicate our lives by renovating a 90 year old house in Richmond and then having 2 kids. It’s a little-known fact but there’s no paternity leave when you have a fledgling furniture business and no carers days either, silly I know! But we all made it work on 3 hours sleep a week because we loved it!
Our version of "the block"
What do you love most about what you do?
What drives me to make custom furniture is the CUSTOM bit. It’s a whole process: the phone call, the email, the rough sketch, the working drawings and then the making. The creating of the piece that only a few weeks before was a sketch, an idea that somebody had. Or it was a necessity somebody had that we’ve been able to service. This job isn’t easy, but I’d never think of moaning because it’s incredible to do! Depending on the day, I go through an entire gamut of emotions before 3:30 but am always ripe and ready to start again the day.
Finally…there’s a quiet prestige in being someone’s “furniture maker”, and it happens more than you’d think….we get clients that come back time and again with different projects or a new house or more kids, and we can create for them and they’re growing needs. Don’t get that at IKEA!
2nd Chance Tables is obviously a reference to recycled timbers, what do you enjoy about working with recycled timbers?
For me, at the very beginning it was simply a beautiful step away from the somewhat boring newer timber I was used to in the construction industry. Recycled timber is hard to work with, it gives you splinters and needs nails pulled from it like rotten teeth, it was exciting! And whether it’s salvaged from a grand and historic rural bridge or the insides of a bathroom wall somewhere it has the potential to polish up into a spectacular and (this is the best bit) unique piece.
What have you made that you’re most proud of?
Last year we were lucky enough to be able to create a monogrammed boardroom table for a large wind turbine manufacturer. The table itself was huge and needed to be assembled on the 29th floor of a Collins st building. We added a large wind turbine image to the centre for a personal touch, but were most happy to be able to create something like this for a firm whose views on sustainability and regeneration we closely align with.