Interview with Louise from Birdwoods New Zealand
was first established in Zimbabwe in 1991 and since then founders Louise and Bruce have set up
shop in New Zealand, opening their doors in 2005.
the Birdwoods craftsmen still produce spectacular products, using some of Louise’s designs as well as Joy's new ones. They received a warm welcome from New
Zealanders, who fully embraced these Zimbabwean crafted products. We chatted to Louise to find out more, and here is what she had to say:
What gave you the inspiration to start Birdwoods originally?
We were very short of capital and were looking for a business that we could do part time to generate funds to assist in buying our first farm. My husband, Bruce gave me a metal bird made of assorted scrap pieces for a Christmas present which I loved and wanted another to go with it – none were to be found, so I said let’s make our own one. Bruce found me some old oil drums which had been used as cattle feeding troughs, he then said I may collaborate with one his labourers, Danny, the Workshop Assistant and together he and I cobbled together our first bird.
When did you start the business and what did you enjoy most about running it?
We started it in 1991, just after returning from six months away with Bruce who had been on a Nuffield Farming Scholarship. I loved the design process, teaching and working with the welders whom we taught new skills and spending time in the workshop managing labourers and the end product. I very much enjoyed the process and challenge of manufacturing, and the fact we were using scrap metal and recycled materials. I loved the whole process, despite its frustrations and economic and political interruptions, although this resulted in us handing over Birdwoods into the capable hands of Joy and Tim Denton. Subsequently we have enjoyed being wholesale customers of theirs and have a different set of challenges. However, I continue to get huge satisfaction and sense of pride seeing Birdwoods products to this day being sold around the world with a fine reputation.
What reaction do you typically get from people in New Zealand who see the products for the first time?
Many have seen them in other parts of the world, and are delighted to know that we started Birdwoods and hear our story as family and the story of Birdwoods.
Which of the new designs do you like best?
The kiwi has to be the favourite, it would be rude not to be!
What is your all-time favourite design?
The Wattled Crane pair is still my absolute favourite and if we were to only be left with one choice – this would be it. They are graceful, classical and timeless. 2016 will celebrate Birdwoods being 25 years old – we plan to produce a coffee table book with the story of Birdwoods – so watch this space…