When Mari Teed opened her upholstery business, she not only brought with it her years of experience as an apprentice.
She continues a Ballarat tradition of upholstery that began with brothers Angelo and Chris Christofi, the brothers who opened Buttoning Upholstery in 1979 and closed in 2017.
Ms Teed was their apprentice, and credits the pair with teaching her how to pay attention to detail in her work.
She has opened her business Maverick Upholstery in Creswick, and says without the continuing help of the Greek-Cypriot experts and her first employers in Melbourne, she wouldn't have had the chance to pursue her love of what is an increasingly rare trade in an era of throwaway furniture.
The 26-year-old happily admits to being a 'chair nerd' and is currently gleefully restoring a pair of Featherston original Numero IV chairs she purchased recently online for a bargain price.
I have their 40 years of experience to help meMari Teed on the influence of the Christofi brothers
Originally hoping to be an interior designer, Ms Teed was working in England as a boarding school assistant when she met an upholsterer moonlighting in the same gig at night.
Sharing a passion for the restoration of furniture, she became his helper, and on returning to Australia sought out an apprenticeship.
After being told by Centrelink she should, 'pick another career; you'll never find a job,' Ms Teed set out on her own path, doing research on upholstery and calling those left in the trade.
Chasing a three-year-old advertisement, she eventually found work in Melbourne, striking it lucky in her first interview with Navascues in Preston.
She spent two years there before continuing with the Christofi brothers in Ballarat.
"If I have have question I can just call them," she says.
"Should I do this seam allowance? What do you think about this material? I have their 40 years of experience to help me."
What's inspiring in Ms Teed's story, apart from her single-minded determination to build her own business, is she's learnt every skill need to be an upholsterer on the job. Before starting, Ms Teed couldn't sew, hadn't used a sewing machine and had no idea what any of the tools she's now familiar with were used for.
"Unfortunately trades schools aren't really very much existing in Australia any more; I know Victoria has one but most of the people doing upholstery there aren't apprentices; it's just a hobby course for them," Ms Teed says.
Instead, to train herself, Ms Teed practised by sewing dog beds, and made a business out of selling those.
"That's how I became good at sewing, by practising on dog beds and cushions; I started off on secondhand machines and now I've invested in a new machine, which is a big investment."
She also bought up big out of the closure of Buttoning Upholstery, buying their valuable sample books and materials.
Ms Teed says setting up a small business is a lot more work than anyone might think, but for someone who is passionate about designer furniture and its history, the work is worthwhile.
"You can take apart a piece of furniture; see how many times it's been recovered; you can see, with furniture made during the the war, they've used any materials they could get their hands on. You can take apart a piece of furniture; see how many times it's been recovered; you can see, with furniture made during the the war, they've used any materials they could get their hands on."