James Anderson of Hemi Homewares makes beautiful upcycled wooden homewares with the philosophy of helping people with no home. With a strongly held belief in everyone’s right to food, shelter and warmth, James donates 5% of the purchase price of all his products to the Auckland City Mission.
His values also come with healthy dose of humour:
“Hello, My name is James and um… I’m a woodaholic.
It all started with my mum’s wooden spoon. Soon enough I was onto the hard stuff. Chopping boards, pizza trays, side tables. Friends and family would come visit me and see how I was doing, but it was too late. I had already built wooden walls around me.
It started getting worse.
I would wake up in the mornings with wood shavings all through my bed and I couldn’t remember how they got there.That’s when I said to myself I can’t kauri on like this. So I decided to get some help from Hemi at Hemi Homewares and I haven’t looked back since.”
What do you make?
I currently am making unique shelving solutions from recycled woods ranging from custom installations to my own little designs. I use recycled timber, some from state housing demolition, and builders’ bins, and Hemi gives 5% of each product’s purchase price to the Auckland City Mission.
How did you get into your craft?
I started messing about with pallet wood for fun in my old 2m x 2m garden shed (that’s being generous on the dimensions too) and some creative spark, possibly from an electrocution, hit me and before I knew it I was working with kauri and featuring on some funky websites.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
Theres something special about working with New Zealand’s fine woods, but what I really like is grabbing old, nail ridden, paint coated wood thats next destination is the tip, and revamping it to look new again and cheekily disguising it as a part of a shelf and trying to find it a new home.
What inspires you?
My inspiration can be found in the people that have much less than me but are much stronger. I look to them when need be.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
There is so much philosophy behind my work I barely get anything done!
I believe at the very core of society that every person has the inalienable right to food, shelter and warmth and until we all have that then we cannot move forward into a better society. I mean, it’s not like when humans first figured out how to make shelter that they were not going to share it with others. It’s annoying how the world is sometimes.
So I wanted to create a lifestyle, product, business, whatever it may be, that can encompass my values, give to those with less and possibly pay my bills as well.
Describe your workspace:
A creative haven of dust,
where good vibes is a must!
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
I do a lot of weekend markets, which are always a fun day out, and have met some amazing people from all over the world and have struck up some really intriguing and thought provoking conversations. This of course isn’t feedback, but it’s very rewarding to have a complete stranger open up their brain and converse rather than think they are just a consumer at a market and I’m just a guy with a product.
What are you currently listening to?
Team Dynamite when I’m feeling funky, @Peace when I’m feeling chilled and a little Homebrew when I’m feeling flustered with how stupid humans are sometimes.
What are you reading now?
The Price of Inequality by Joseph E. Stiglitz. The book cost $30. I haven’t read much yet but I already know the price of the price of inequality. It’s $30.
Who is your hero/heroine?
The person who invented the orbital sander. You have saved me so much time and for that I am thankful.
A favourite quote:
There are too many to choose from but here’s a typical Noam Chomsky quote that recently resonated with me.
“The general population doesn’t know what’s happening, and it doesn’t know that it doesn’t know.”
If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
My name would be Woodman and my power would be to instantly make people to see the art or good in everything.
What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
I’m unsure if I am fit to give advice, especially since I’m currently accepting advice at the moment! I would only suggest making sure that there is room in the market for your product, so massive research, and if not… can you do it better than the others, and if so DO IT!!!
What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I bought this really cool wall mounted shelf that could hold wine bottles, books, small plants…
What’s in store for 2015?
Hopefully I can begin some woodworking classes at Auckland City Mission within the next couple weeks. I’m pretty excited about that and it should be a fun adventure!
Also I will be releasing more and more lines of shelving and other stuff in the near future. Can’t reveal too much though!
To see more of James’ homewares with heart, make sure you visit his Felt shop.