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21 January, 2021

Damien's timber treasures take off

Damien’s timber treasures take off. MANY local businesses were hit hard or even closed down last year due to COVID-19, but Cairns local Damien Stroud started his business ‘Real Rustic Designs’ in the peak of the pandemic, and it has been booming ever since.

By Tanya Murphy

Photo caption: Damien Stroud building one of his ‘Real Rustic Designs.’

After giving up his job as a second-fix carpenter to become a stay-at-home father to his four children six years ago, Mr Stroud took up a hobby saving timber shipping crates and pallets from landfill and transforming them into designer furniture.

“I saw some pallets discarded on a building site, so I grabbed them and started making stuff for home. I started with a dining table and a bed for my daughter. Friends saw them and started ordering stuff from me,” said Mr Stroud.

This hobby became a business last year thanks to assistance and mentorship from the New Business Assistance with NEIS program delivered through My Pathway Cairns.

“My friend Troy Duncan owns Duncan Powersports and they sell things like jet skis and quad bikes, and they’re all imported in big shipping crates. The timber that those crates are made out of is really nice, and it was all just going to landfill which is a big waste and a huge expense to dispose of as well,” said Mr Stroud.

As well as supporting a local business and helping the environment, Mr Stroud’s customers can expect top quality and made-to-order customisation.

“My prices are similar to the big furniture shops, but the quality is much better. It’s all made out of solid pine, not MDF or chipboard, and built to last,” said Mr Stroud.

“I make furniture to order, so for example if people want something to fit into a specific alcove in their house, they’ll just give me measurements and a picture of what they’re looking for and I’ll make it.”

The ‘rustic’ pine look is proving hugely popular with home decorators at the moment, and Mr Stroud can make almost anything, with recent orders including everything from beds and bookcases to cubby houses, picnic tables and playground equipment.

“There is a real desire to buy local now, so being somewhat isolated in Cairns, along with the reinvigorated redecorating market has really helped me take off, I’m flat out,” said Mr Stroud.

A bed takes between two and three days to build with drawers taking longer, all of which Mr Stroud fits around looking after his four children.

“I work while my kids are at school, and also on weekends when they aren’t with me. It’s hard but at least it’s flexible so I can take my kids to school and pick them up and be a father to them. Hopefully I’ll get enough business that I can look at employing someone soon, so I don’t have to work as hard!”

You can check out Mr Stroud’s work at his Facebook page, ‘Real Rustic Designs.’

Mr Stroud’s business is among more than 80 new businesses to emerge in Cairns in the past financial year thanks to assistance from My Pathway Cairns. The New Business Assistance with NEIS program is a fully funded Australian Government initiative and My Pathway is the approved provider in Cairns.

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