Tasha's Woodshed - a wooden alternative to plastic toys

1/First of all, we would love to know about your business, how you started and what inspired you to start Tasha's Woodshed. We would appreciate if you could give us a short statement explaining your journey and outlining things that inspire you.


Tasha's Woodshed officially started during lockdown, April 2019. However, the routes of the business were conceived in 2015 when, after years of being a keen woodworker, I finally took the plunge and completed a foundation degree in furniture making. My plan had always been to find a second job which I could work on alongside my main job, performing.


You're now imaging I'm an actor or similar, well  actually, my performance is a little more dangerous than acting; I'm a street performer and circus performer and can often be found juggling knives, upside down, hanging from my toes...I know, random.


So when Covid hit all my performance work disappeared so I took the opportunity of time to follow my dream of starting Tasha's Woodshed officially. Unofficially, since my woodworking course, I had picked up quite a few bespoke prop making builds, mainly for other performers...


Oh, props! What kinds of things have you made?


I mean, a bed of nails was one of the strangest things.. Also a talking lampost! My partner is very used to coming home from work and seeing some very bizarre props in the house!


I absolutely love what I do now, during the summer months I tour with my performance company Fit-Up! Productions and in the winter I design wooden toys for young children and also bespoke wooden gifts.


The main inspiration for Tasha's Wood Shed was making affordable and eco friendly handmade items. The wood I use is FCS certified and sourced from our local wood merchant in Bovey Tracy, near where we are based in Newton Abbot, which is very near to you guys as well!


It's always good to support local businesses!


Absolutely, for Tasha's Woodshed supporting local businesses, reducing our carbon footprint AND, making our items affordable is super important. We recycle our packaging, it's not always pretty but why use new cardboard? And all packaging is plastic free. On top of this, we have just started some projects with local Devon schools for children with Social, Emotional Mental health difficulties, where I make a set of blank toys for them to paint and then we donate the toys to a play charity who works with displaced children in Calais. This kind of project is such a pleasure to be part of and helps different children and young people on different levels.


3/As a small business owner, what's your work/life balance like? Do you ever stop working (haha)?


Ummmm.... It can be all consuming, especially in the summer when I'm at Glastonbury, or similar performing and someone orders 5 Dave the dogs...I do adjust lead times and occasionally have had to close the shop, but most of the time, my performing work and Tasha Woodshed marry up really well as I'm much quieter in the winter months with my circus work so I can really prep for the Christmas rush and valentine's rush (our best seller is a heart within a heart which sells loads in January usually!)

I do now, through experience take most weekends off when I'm not performing as I've learned that having a rest and stepping away from the lathe ultimately helps me. I sometimes get my best ideas at the most random times.


4/Where do those ideas come from? and what motivates you to keep going? Are there any particular websites, films, social media profiles that you motivate you to keep going


I really don't know where my ideas come from! Some of my best ideas have come to me when going to sleep! The pantimals (a set of wooden animals where their coats come off to reveal their pretty pants!) idea came to me before I went to sleep, I then couldn't sleep and got up and drew them. These are one of our most complimented toys - we even wrote and published a picture book that matches with the toys, all about identity. I actually think it is having these new ideas and designing new things that really motivates me.


I'm forever in awe of some of the other wooden toy makers and painters I network with. I am part of DIY wooden toy UK Facebook group and this group of supportive makers is a real support and help to me. I can ask questions there and everyone is so helpful and giving. I'm lucky to be part of that.


5/Is there anything that you'd tell yourself who was starting Tasha Woodshed  Words of advice?


I'd definitely tell myself to learn photography skills early on (photographing my items is my least favourite part of the business!). I think I'd also tell myself to celebrate my success more: I've sold my items to 5 different shops, shipped off toys to USA, Australia, Canada and all over the UK. I think I'm now using this question as a form of therapy! I'll leave it there.


Thanks for your time!


Shop now: https://tashaswoodshed.co.uk/

Tasha's performing business: https://fitupproductions.com/

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