There are a lot of wood creations floating around these days, but not so many have the look that Maureen Peets of MP Design Company creates. Read on to find out how Maureen finds her ideas..

Please tell us a bit about yourself and one interesting fact.

I am a designer/maker who works in wood and reclaimed wood. I create home decor items including coat racks and wooden signs, jewelry and I also make a line of Christmas tree ornaments and decor. I specialize in creating unique finishes using wood dyes, paint and leaf. I am always on the hunt for items to up-cycle give a new life.

I also do work in social media and event photography which compliments my design company. I love the variety this brings me everyday.

Where did your business idea come from?

I started my business after graduating from Sheridan College School of Crafts and Design in the Furniture Program. I had my business for several years and then got a real job. After leaving my job 4 years ago, I decided to make some Christmas ornaments and it has just grown from there.

How Does your work reflect your personality and overall approach to life?

I love wood, colour and I love to paint. I am a big problem solver with lots of ideas so the design process gives me that creative outlet. I enjoy restoring old things and giving them a new life to solve a problem or it makes something useful that did not exist before.

How do you balance parenthood with your business?

My girls are both in university now and in fact my younger daughter helps me at shows when she is in town. I did work when I was on maternity leave for my first daughter and enjoyed it.

What would you say has been your biggest learning curve since beginning your business?

My learning curve has really been to believe in myself so that I can do this. When I first started working on wood in my twenties, I had more time and much more confidence. What you don’t know doesn’t stop you! I have been learning to listen to my inner voice and learn from people around me. I think it was a shift for me that people don’t buy things they buy people so tell your story.

Where do you get inspiration for developing new products?

I get my inspiration from the wood itself as I like to feature the natural beauty of wood even when I dye it and paint it. I also am inspired by the people around me who make beautiful things.

How long does the average item take for you to create?

My designs take me several hours to make as woodworking involves a lot of steps. I tend to make things in batches where possible and when I have made a prototype.

Do you have a favourite item in your store?

My favourite item is the Twinkle Star Choker Necklace in Antique White. I wear it when I go out and it has been a popular seller.

What is the story behind your business name?

MP Design Company was the name I came up with after graduating Sheridan College. When I started designing again, I thought it was the right choice for me. It has my initials and it allows me the flexibility to make what I want to make.

Can you describe your process and how long it takes to produce a piece?

I usually start with a drawing and then move to selecting the wood. I then play with size, colours other design elements such as hardware. The next step is to cut, drill and sand the number of pieces needed to make a few of the item at once. It is a bit of a production line with dry runs, gluing and then sanding. This allows me to do the messy steps all at once before moving on to the dyeing, painting and finishing stage. This whole process takes a day for small items to several days for larger or more complicated pieces.

Describe your work-space and your top tools are.

I have two work-spaces one is in my garage where I store my wood and use cutting tools. I also have a small studio in my house where I have all of my dyes, paints and supplies. This is where the assembly and finishing happens.

Do you receive many custom orders and if so, how much input do clients have?

I don’t receive many custom orders although I get a lot of interest in them. It is an area of my business that I would like to increase.

Do you ever make anything for yourself?

Yes, I love making things for myself and my family including lamps, coat racks and jewelry. I love upcycling old solid wood furniture like chairs and dressers as well.

Do you have a favourite designer? Who is it and why?

My favourite designer is Philippe Starck because he has such a unique take on function and form. He is an innovator and his designs are immediately identifiable.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love going to flea markets, furniture and antique stores. I also enjoy playing golf, planning events, social media and photography.

Any advice for a new Handcrafted Maker who is setting up a shop?

Do something that you are passionate about and enjoy doing. Don’t be afraid to listen to your customers feedback and continue to learn.

What is your bestselling item? Why do you think it is the most popular?

My best-selling item is Rudy a Christmas tree ornament that was my first design 4 years ago. It is my take on Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer and I think it has broad appeal.

Are you managing wholesale accounts and attending markets alongside your direct sales? If so, how do you balance your work day?

I am not yet managing wholesale accounts but that is on my list. I participate in shows and markets throughout the year. I struggle with balancing my work day and tend to work long days before a show.

Do you have other hobbies?

I don’t have as much time for hobbies as I used to but I love to golf and I love to entertain.

Do you do this full time? If not, how do you balance your day?

I do this part time as I have another business where I do social media and photography in the events, meetings and incentive travel industries. I typically have alternate days for each business and then switch focus depending on need. The two activities compliment each other.

What has been the most challenging aspect of being a creative business owner?

The most challenging aspect is making enough money to pay the bills. I have had to supplement my income with photography and event work but this also helps me with business development and networking in new circles.

Did you take classes to learn the skills you utilize or are these self-taught practices of trial and error?

I have a diploma from Sheridan College in Furniture Design and I have taken courses at OCAD in design drawing, instrument making and woodworking. In addition to that I have years of self taught practices and there has been a lot of trial and error!

What do you hope to accomplish in the next year? No limits! Where would you like your business to go?

I want my products to be sold in 5 stores. I would also like to be doing more custom work for clients who want reclaimed and up-cycled pieces. I would also like to launch my own website to showcase my work both large and small.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee is my main beverage and in some ways my life line. I am addicted to it and love it hot or cold. Love to self brew my coffee and love to try new coffee places. Tea is not important to me at all. I can take it or leave but mostly leave it.

You can find Maureen at our upcoming Made in Canada Market or you can follow her on her social media channels..

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/MPDesignCompany

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MPDesignCompany

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mpdesigncompany

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