I’m not sure how many kiwis are hiding out in the hundreds of brick walled workshops on the back streets of Collingwood – but I know of at least one.
Tara Wilcox is a former drumstick weilding band member who; after 10 years touring through New Zealand, Australia and the UK chose to give up the roving musicians life and in 2010 put down roots in Melbourne. But what does a seasoned drummer do when she retires from the limelight?
Definitely NOT what you would expect….
It was actually the accidental distraction of a dining room table by Tara’s flatmate that kicked her off down a new path. Initially on the hunt for a replacement they jumped on ebay, found the perfect trestle table but were gobsmacked at the price it climbed to, subsequently pulling out of the bidding. The simplicity of the design and their humble needs had Tara instantly think – “I could bloody well make that myself !” So off she went, bought some tools and materials and promptly did just that. Instead of keeping the table for the house, she instead listed it on ebay and was pleasently surprised to be on the other side of the bidding and an instant sale was made!
The process and thrill of that first successful sale had definitely whet her appetite for more which proved lucky as friends and family got wind of her work and orders started rolling in. Of course there was the small matter of her non existant technical knowledge when it came to furniture construction and woodwork! While ploughing on to fill her orders and learning the hard way through trial and error she researched options to develop her skills. There was an apprenticeship she was rejected on due to being a female then the popular woodworking course through local creative studio Pop & Scott who took one look at her work and said that she was too advanced for their entry level class. So she plugged on.
For the first 6 months her “workshop” was the backyard of her flat which, while less than ideal, she was able to graciate her housemates with appropriate furniture bribes. A move to a new place with no outdoor area forced her to be brave and take her operation up a notch. She posted an ad on Gumtree for a space and was answered by Derek who ran a Lambretta workshop with ample room in Collingwood. There were some seriously good furniture vibes bouncing round those brick walls as it had previously hosted Mark Tuckey! Tara then reached out and advertised for other woodworkers to join her and she now shares with two talented guys making for a super collaborative studio. This supportive attitude reaches further down the street and surrounding area where she has fielded not only valuable advice, permanent loan of expensive equipment but also the local supply of her table legs.
And so Redfox & Wilcox took shape. Completing a small business course in 2012 followed by an ever helpful grant, she has also honed her designs with help of great friend (and original table breaker!) Nicola Grey. With a background in the interior design industry, Nicola acts as an overseer and guide when it comes to production development. Tara admits shes also damn good at interrupting any of her well practiced productive procrastination! The tables are now beautifully constructed tops using recycled (found, given, scavenged!) timber which are then layed out and finished in a parquet pattern. All made to custom size and then screwed onto beautiful, simple powdercoated steel legs. Makes for very easy delivery!
Tara still advertises on ebay filling custom orders and has recently completed projects for Bulletin Place cocktail bar in Sydney and Blue Corn mexican restaurant in St. Kilda. By all accounts, Redfox & Wilcox has found a niche supplying those that value a sustainable, custom option when it comes to the humble household table.
I could hardly believe that I was the first to interview this softly spoken but obviously ambitious maker – but I know for certain I won’t be the last!All photography by Julia Atkinson for Studio Home.
WHAT I LEARNT FROM TARA:
It’s not even a case of faking it till you make it – its simply a case of getting the job done.
Anyone can learn what they don’t know, but not everyone is brave enough to do it.