Olivia O’Connor, maker of the humble rocking horse | Enterprising Australians
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Olivia O’Connor, maker of the humble rocking horse | Enterprising Australians

August 11, 2019


MUSIC ISLA: Olivia, you make rocking horses,
how did you get into wood carving? OLIVIA: Well I was lucky enough I grew up on a farm,
and my dad was a horse trainer so I was always around horses and in high school I loved wood work and so after high school I went and studied
furniture design and construction at RMIT but then I left there and I went to NIDA in Sydney
where I studied prop making and scenic art and there I actually made my first rocking horse. A lot of my carving woodwork skills I learnt
actually from YouTube videos ISLA: Really?
OLIVIA: Yeah, I learnt a lot off YouTube videos. ISLA: Do you have a favourite person
on YouTube that you follow, or? OLIVIA: No its usually old men,
and their grandson has been like
‘Oi! Grandad! Let me film you doing this!’ LAUGHTER OLIVIA: I thought it would be a fun business
so that was the first step I guess I saved for a year and a half so I would have enough money to buy all of the tools and machineries I needed I left Sydney and moved to South Gippsland
and set up a workshop and I went on a small business course ISLA: What’s it like working in a setting where
you don’t really fit the traditional mould? OLIVIA: Ah, well I work by myself and for myself
so I don’t encounter it much on a day to day It’s more when I do fairs like this
people expect me to be an old man, and they’re quite shocked, basically that I’m not. OLIVIA: It works quite well in my favour
in a lot of ways because then people remember me
and I stick out in their memories ISLA: And you’re part of this community
like the Lost Trades fair
OLIVIA: Yeah ISLA: What’s it like working in a community like this? OLIVIA: Because a lot of us makers work by ourselves,
you just feel like you’re a crazy person stuck in a shed alone and it’s great to realise that there’s
all these other people like it And even though we all have different trades and skills A lot on the practical skill side crosses over
but also running your own business and promoting yourself and everything
we can share a lot of information like that. ISLA: We live in quite a digital world where entertainment,
and just, things, are really cheaply and readily accessible How do you compete in a world like that
with your rocking horses? OLIVIA: I think the best thing is
is I try not to compete with a disposable society and that in itself establishes my difference. You can buy a rocking horse for $80 off the internet. But it’s made of plastic and it will last six months. Or, you can buy one of mine,
that’s hand-carved timber. If you look after it, it will basically last you
for five, six generations easily. I’ve just started doing classes
so I’m really excited about that so it will be teaching people
how to make their own rocking horse So really, I’m trying to,
because I self-taught myself a lot of the skills and I’m just trying to pass that on so that
more and more people know how to do it basically! ISLA: If you had to give your younger self
some advice, what would that be? OLIVIA: I hesitated starting a business
because I was scared it would fail and I think it would be great to be like
‘Don’t be so nervous’. Because if you’re passionate about something
other people will follow through on that.

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