How Kelly and Adrian threaded passions together to construct dream life

North Ipswich couple Kelly and Adrian Hanson (pictured) have two unique businesses that sees them both living their dream.

Skills like sewing and intricate carpentry are somewhat lost arts.

Give Adrian a piece of wood or Kelly some material and they can create all sorts of practical and beautiful things.

They joined forces last month to build Kelly’s new shop.

Kelly’s new business Sew What Ipswich is a co-op of creators. It’s a space filled with whirring machines, laughter and the smell of coffee.

Adrian is AHM Custom Wood Works. His slogan is ‘antiques of tomorrow’. He takes a piece of timber or wood and repurposes it into something practical and special for someone.

“I build dreams. I help people’s dreams become reality and this is a dream of Kelly’s,” Adrian said.

In an era of very cheap chain store clothes, some might think a sewing shop is a bit gourmet but Kelly says something very special happens when you teach someone to sew.

“I love creating items from scratch and I really wanted to share the wonderful emotions that are associated with this,” she said.

“I want to reignite skills and passion for sewing. It’s skipped a couple of generations.

“When you put something on after you have made it, the feeling is amazing. When someone says ‘I like your top’ – it doesn’t get old.”

Likewise are people willing to pay for quality handmade furniture when they can buy a cheap table from a chain store?

“People do want quality but sometimes they don’t fully understand how much time goes into it. We are not comparing apples to apples,” Adrian said.

The proof is in the pudding and for Kelly and Adrian, throwing themselves into their unique businesses is easy when it’s driven by passion.

“I won’t die wondering,” Kelly said.

Kelly’s story

Kelly describes Sew What Ipswich like an internet café but with sewing instead of the internet.

Anyone can go in and hire a sewing machine, overlocker or cover-stich machine. Or you can attend a class or workshop. 

Other services include quilting frame hire, knife and scissor sharpening, alteration, machine servicing, fabric and haberdashery are for sale and yes, like an internet café, they also offer coffee and baked treats.

Although Sew What Ipswich only opened last month at 1/39 Downs Street, North Ipswich, the business is the culmination of years of sewing and conducting workshops out of rented halls or houses.

Kelly’s other passion is nursing.

“I was nursing and doing sewing workshops at the same time for years,” she said.

“I would have to carry eight sewing machines in and out of the car, but I loved teaching young girls how to sew.”

Then, two stressful life-changing events made Kelly sit back and think about what is really important.

“We went through IVF and worked really hard to get our daughter Ida Lilly. So it was at the height of all those emotions and then my uncle was diagnosed with cancer,” Kelly said.

“It made me think – if anything ever happened to me that at least I did what I wanted to do. Life is short.

“The day I enquired about the store I went for a really good job interview at the hospital, so I had to make a choice.”

Kelly set the shop up with community in mind. She put it out there on Facebook that she wanted helpers and she has met some wonderful people who she works with on a regular basis.

“I have had incredible support from many people,” she said.

“Amber Coates from Sewing with Amber does regular workshops here for beginners, children, mums and bubs classes and for experienced sewers. Deadly Mojo Sewing do workshops also.  We have had community groups in and I just want people to come in, have a cuppa and sew here.”

Adrian’s story

Adrian’s love of wood has been there for as long as he can remember.

“From a very early age I can remember crawling around in the wood shavings underneath my dad’s lathe. Just being obsessed with the tools, the noises and the smell of wood,” Adrian said.

His grandfather was a master builder and his uncles took on the business.

Adrian got his start in carpentry as an apprentice pattern maker.

“Anything that is cast in iron or bronze, has to have a three dimensional wooden pattern first. So if you wanted a bell, we would make the bell out of timber first. They pack sand around it, pull the pattern out pour the molten metal in,” he said.

“The smallest thing I made had a cast weight of 200 grams and the largest thing has a cast weight of 35 tonnes. We did a lot of work for the railways and for the mining industry.

“After that my uncle strapped a nail bag on me and I have been building ever since.”

A few years ago Adrian’s body started to give out in places here and there and he wanted to be more available to his family. So he kitted out his workshop and started AHM Custom Wood Works.

“Family is the most important thing in my life. I thought what do you want to do for the rest of your life? What would you be happy doing when you are old? And I want to be doing this,” he said.

“The timber I used is either reclaimed from carpentry jobs or comes out of the urban harvest. It all has a backstory and some history, it’s all locally sourced.

“Recently my dad cut down an acacia tree in his backyard. Our family dog has passed away and I remembered when we planted the garden the dog was there. So I made a little memorial box for her remains with that in mind. I know it will be around for a long time.”

Adrian’s idea of success is seeing items he has spent hours crafting being used.

“I’d like to think that after I’m dead, somebody thinks enough of my stuff to haul it out from underneath the house, clean it all up and put it on show. That would be a success for me, somebody to appreciate it and keep using it,” he said.

“That is what I strive for.”

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