Yarra Ranges Enterprise Centre
Josh Norman first became a tenant at YREC in March 2019, launching his start-up business specialising in upholstery and repairs. After holding steady through the pandemic, the past 12 months has provided him with an opportunity to relocate to a larger studio at the YREC premises, and one with double doors allowing easier access for the bigger projects coming in and out of his workshop. He has slowly built his reputation through active social media engagement and is regularly recommended online as the upholsterer of choice in the region. It’s been a slow and steady journey of increasing awareness and taking on bigger jobs that have then facilitated word-of-mouth recommendations.
One of the most recent jobs he has completed was the reupholstery and renovation of 36 dining chairs for the Alpine Retreat Hotel in Warburton. These chairs, which the new owners rescued from storage in the hotel garage, were dated from the 1950s and part of the original furniture purchased for the hotel by the Leith family. They captured plenty of history and loads of charm for owner Rachael Northwood, who decided they were worth restoring as an honouring of the heritage of the building. Josh has painstakingly restored each chair and they now hold pride of place in the upstairs accommodation rooms, a practical outcome that also lends authenticity to the rooms. “We love the chairs, and that they haven’t been thrown away, but are now a living part of the heritage of the retreat, and we were happy that someone local could bring them back to life,” says Rachael “It’s part of our ethos to go local where possible and to preserve the past. Josh’s work is exceptional.” Josh has also recovered several banquette (bench seat) cushions that are part of the main dining room.
Christine Birch, the owner of Oscar’s on the Yarra, has also recently engaged Josh to make four padded bedheads for their motel rooms. Josh was the perfect choice for this work being local, talented and able to offer some practical advice for the best way to create a long-lasting outcome. These ‘from scratch’ bedheads will utilise many of Josh’s skills from timber form cutting, to batting and foam inlays, to sewing the plush velvet fabric and finishing. The pink velvet bedheads will be a lush feature of the rooms for guests to enjoy.
Josh values being at the YREC site and believes it has been part of his success so far, especially when people visit other businesses on the premises and realise he is there. “Everyone has a project at home they’ve been meaning to get done,” says Josh. “I’ve been fortunate to have this space and to be able to help so any locals.”
Josh is a true craftsman, who spends time on each piece bringing it back to life with precision and attention to detail. He is proud to continue a long tradition of superior upholstery work and his studio at YREC has been a wonderful opportunity to get started and keep going.