Woodturner, Andrew Early, and his sister and photographer, Carrie Byrne, have brought their unique brand of functional and fabulous art from the Midlands down to the heart of Durban.
How did your business start?
Our father, John Early, established The Woodturner in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands in 1986. I worked closely with him, learning the art of turning and developing a distinctive organic style, implicit in the clean lines that characterise my work. I specialise in sculpting pared-down, sleek pieces of furniture, elemental in design, and in turning bowls that are objets d’art. My sister, Carrie Byrne, has extensive experience as a photographer and offers a unique product, tapping into the iconography of the South African landscape and capturing natural shapes to produce striking pieces that complete the space for which they are destined.
Why did you choose this area to set up shop?
We feel Station Drive has long-term potential, and love the creative vibe and revival of the precinct.
How did you find your premises?
We knew of other creatives who had established retail outlets here, and it made perfect sense to position ourselves in a zone where the market responds to exceptional, out-of-the-ordinary wares.
Why are the premises ideally suited to your business?
Station Drive has a unique energy, and it’s the right place for us now.
Who are your neighbours?
Parklane coffee shop and Trestle South Africa.
What are the shop rental/sales prices like in this area?
Shop rentals are realistic in relation to foot traffic/sales.
What is your shop footprint?
Being away from the commercial retail areas, foot traffic is limited. For the first Thursday of every month we are open till 9pm, and this is getting busier every month. We are open Sunday until 1pm, and this is also becoming increasingly busy. Week days are quieter, but we’re hoping that, as word spreads, foot traffic will increase.
Do you have any expansion plans?
No, because everything is made by us, and we love the idea of having a space where people can buy a piece of art or furniture that can’t be bought anywhere else. Also, all the wood we use is salvaged so clients know they are buying products that are produced ethically and sustainably.
Do you operate online as well?
We have a website so clients can see our work and get a feeling for where we come from. It would be very difficult for us to sell online as each piece is uniquely different and a one-off.
What’s your most popular item?
Our large scale photography on organic pieces of wood is doing very well locally, as are the one-off items of furniture.
Andrew Early, 072 365 6270
Carrie Byrne, 082 876 7479
Words: Anne Schauffer | Images: Supplied