Nikl Play Equipment

18 September 2012
Tags: craft, Homewares, kids , Little people, market day, stall holders, Toys, Upcycled

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up and spent the first 27 years of my life in the beautiful city of Heidelberg, Germany. I never thought I could live in Australia purely because of all the snakes in this country. When I was 23, I came over on a working holiday visa, met a lot of wonderful people and fell in love with this beautiful country. I also realised, snakes are not that scary after all. Applying for a skilled permanent residency visa opened the door for a big life change, the biggest ever. Victoria - the place to be.

Where do you do your crafting?
I rent workspace in a furniture making workshop where I can work whenever I want and as many hours as I want, if I have the time of course! It is really good and it gave me the opportunity to make some custom work - too. It is really tricky to keep the overheads down but also be able to make a wide variety of products and be as flexible as possible. This year was a very diverse year. I started with a custom desk for a 17 year old, made a grandfathers clock case for a lover and maker of grandfather clock mechanisms, made a display stand for a toy shop window and at the moment I have 30 little boats sitting at the workshop waiting to be picked up so they can become unique birthday invitations for a little man. So what I sell at the market is just my standard stock, my little treasures, which create a space to develop children‘s creativity.

Why did you choose your business name and what does it mean to you?
NikL Play equipment
NikL became my nickname in Australia. I am very fortunate that I met a family, which I grew to love as much as I do my family in Germany. Rainer was the first one to call me NikL, who knew that I will come back to Australia for good and a great small business owner. Back then I was a backpacker and it took me 4 years to make up my mind and to apply for a permanent residency visa. Rainer died 2 years before I came back. With choosing the nickname he gave me he will always be part of my business and me.

And Play equipment because I want to make toys and play spaces to create a space where children can develop their live skills. I made play spaces for kindergardens in Germany before I came to Australia. I saw the kids excitement to play with my play spaces and I knew it‘s so much better than making furniture...

How do you relax?
When I need a break I go camping preferably in my bivi bag (similar to a swag) with thousands of stars above me. The Australian bush is my second home, I find the freedom and the piece I need to ground myself and to re-focus. It is my sanctuary.

Where did you learn your craft?
I made an apprenticeship in furniture making in Germany and also a one year master course in furniture making/ carpentry. Since then I worked in different areas of carpentry and fine furniture making. I still work for a furniture maker part time.

How has your style or craft evolved over time? How would you describe your style?
I think my style still evolves and hopefully will never stop to evolve. If you like to improve your products, you want to make small changes all the time to get a better result. Having a German background my taste and style is highly influenced by wooden toys and structures from over there. Being in Australia and being exposed to a different surrounding makes me still want to explore more variations. I think, if you have a creative business it‘s not about one style and sticking to it, it is about exploring, flexibility and change.

What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
I was 16 and I wanted to carve a boat. Funny actually, now that I think about it, it was my first wooden project and my latest custom order - too. I had a little accident with the chisel. I cut a rather deep wound in my left hand. Today I know what you never never should do, back then, with a very blunt chisel in our garage I had to learn it painfully... Well, it didn‘t scare me off but it challenged my curiosity to learn more about working with wood.

What are your favourite materials to work with?
I love using the oil from Livos, it smells really nice during application and also afterwards until it fades slowly. It is a 100% natural oil which has as little impact on our environment as possible and is very gentle to our health. I love creating while I am aware of the source - where it comes from and also what impact it has on our home environment.

What couldn‘t you live without?
Without friends and family. People are so important and the biggest treasures we can have. Although my family is in Germany I talk to my parents every fortnight, which is actually more often than when I lived in the same country. They are proud of my venture and very supportive!

Thanks to Mulgrave Makers Market and the lovely people coming by every month to create such a wonderful market!





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