HIGHLANDS CREATIVES // Jonti Roland Shepherd
Meet The Maker — Q & A with Jonti Roland Shepherd, Roland Upholstery
How did you get involved in your craft?
“I have grown up around fabric as my mum, Joh Trapnell, has run her soft furnishing business, Suite Recovery, in the Southern Highlands since 2000. I decided I wanted to be an upholsterer as I love textiles and furniture, so I enrolled in the Lidcombe TAFE course. I studied and worked as an apprentice for four years and now I’m a fully qualified upholsterer.”
Who or what are your biggest influencers or inspiration?
“I am a big fan of Jack White from the White Stripes because he was an upholsterer before he became a professional musician. The late Tony Dunlop, founder of Raffles Textiles, has definitely influenced me a lot too as I worked in his warehouse in Sydney and Mittagong and he ‘showed me the ropes’. I did a bit of everything, including dispatching amazing Belgium linens and managing his warehouse. I am also heavily influenced by Peter McKinnon who produces incredible videography and photography.”
What materials do you like to use in the making process?
“I love many different fabrics and textiles, but linen is my all-time favourite to work with. My mum stocks rolls and rolls of beautiful fabrics at Suite Recovery that she sells to the public and uses in her soft furnishing projects, so I am spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting fabrics with clients for projects I am working on.”
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to move into your field?
“You need to have a passion for textiles and custom design! Every project is different, so you need to be flexible. You also need to have the patience and commitment to study for four years as an apprentice upholsterer at a certified institution. You really do learn a huge amount by going through the formal, more lengthy qualification process.”
“Definitely seeing the finished product looking as good as new. It’s really satisfying to see the customers happy and excited about their freshly upholstered pieces.”
“Sometimes jobs don’t go as planned, for example due to an unexpected design element in a piece of furniture that may complicate the reupholstery process. Any delay slows down the work flow and I have lots of projects on-the-go, so delays are never welcome! I also dislike stripping the furniture, there is no joy in that process.”
Plans for the future?
“I have just started using my own workshop space above Suite Recovery and it’s exciting to have my own business established now. This new space is both practical and spacious, it’s perfect for my line of work. I just want to keep applying myself every day (except Sundays!) in the upholstery field and provide myself with a decent lifestyle.”
Why do you love being a creative in The Southern Highlands?
“I am constantly inspired by the beauty of the Southern Highlands, I’m pretty much stating the obvious there! I grew up here and I think it’s a great environment to live and work. People also have beautiful homes in this area, so of course they need beautifully reupholstered furniture in their homes too!”