Joshua Norman Upholstery
Josh Norman is an upholsterer who brings antique pieces back to life. He set up his workshop in March 2019 at YREC and is building his profile within the local community and the Yarra Valley. Josh’s studio is open to the public during business hours through the week and by appointment on the weekend. As one of the youngest tenants at YREC, Josh has established himself a unique niche.
A true craftsman, Josh is proud to continue a long tradition of superior upholstery work and will spend many hours on a piece of furniture in order to get it ‘just right’. His meticulous work is evident in the fine detail he brings to each piece. In a trade that is considered to be a lost art, Josh has been able to show just how relevant upholstery is, not only in the preservation of history, but also from a sustainability perspective restoring furniture that might otherwise be considered ‘rubbish’. This ethos of saving what he can and doing authentic repairs is seen in his preference for restoring or reusing padding rather than replacing it with modern foams, and in the careful webbing he does that no one else even sees.
Josh completed his apprenticeship in Bayswater, but late last year was starting to find the commuting from his home in East Warburton too much. The decision last December to start his own business was a big step. He was aware of YREC from driving past every day and was keen to take on a studio and see what he could make of it.
“It’s early days for my business but I’m already getting some clients in through word of mouth. I did some Facebook advertisements when I first started that helped, and I am regularly posting my work on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I’m not really technically minded, and in upholstery the most advanced technology I use is my industrial sewing machine, but I can see how important it is to use things like social media to tell people what I do.”
Josh’s studio and work space is also his showroom and he is surrounded not only by the tools of his trade but also by a large range of fabric swatches, and all sorts of ‘works in progress’. “I love restoring chairs, and I’ll get them just because I like the look of them. Some people get great joy from seeing old family pieces restored, and other people love to buy something finished. I can do so many things with my skills, including seats for trucks, and recently a soft top for a car – that was challenging!”
There has been so much to learn as a start-up and Josh is still feeling his way. “Although we got taught quoting in our apprenticeship, when you get into the real world and start quoting real jobs for people it’s so different. I’ve learnt so much on the job.” Josh has enjoyed getting to know the other tenants at YREC and attends the business mentoring mornings when he can.