Meet Rex, the small business owner of an upholstery small business in the Pilbara WA who has been working with his Many Rivers business coach to bring his business dreams to life.
Rex has been a skilled and known upholsterer for 30 years. About 15 years ago, he upholstered the chairs for Parliament House. After overcoming some challenges in his personal life, Rex has been able to kick start his own small upholstery business idea in the Pilbara this year.
“It was all sort of just a dream and now it has become a reality with thanks to John from Many Rivers.”
Keep reading to hear more about Rex’s upholstery small business and his journey.
It’s an upholstery business. I do everything from lounges, to cars, boats, tents, whatever needs sewing really. The business is pretty fresh, I am about two months into it now. I am flat-out actually for the next few months. The income that I am making I will use to make more cushions soon.
I have been an upholster for 30 years. I struggled with alcoholism so had a break from upholstery for a while. Over the last three years I have overcome personal challenges and got the business started. I have always been an upholster, but I have done a bit of other work such as concreting and stuff like that. But upholstering is my main passion. It was all sort of just a dream to have my own upholstery small business and now that I am sober it has become a reality, with thanks to John from Many Rivers.
I heard that Many Rivers can help with small businesses through Ashburton Aboriginal Corporation in South Hedland. So I got in contact with John and we got the ball rolling.
I was interested in going into business because I have the upholstery skills and I thought that it was time to expand my knowledge. Also, I was interested in the possibility of having my own little workforce. I can create my own designs to express myself and show everyone my lounges.
In the past, I have worked for some big multimillion-dollar factories in Perth. I got a job upholstering the Parliament house chairs 15 years ago. They won’t be redone for another 90 years. In a few months the ABC is coming to do a story on me, and they are going to take me to Parliament House to take a photo of me with my work.
Working with Many Rivers
John has supported me a great deal to learn about becoming a small business owner. He helped me with my cashflow books, he ran through receipts with me, taught me how to do my quoting and things like this. John has been great. Running through the cashflow, getting a bank account started, ABN, register the name, all of that. I still ring him to ask questions if I need help.
I have started to think about employing people, there are a few people that are interested. They have been learning how to use the sewing machine and stuff like that. I am booked in to do an IT course at the Pilbara TAFE, I might do a management course next.
The challenge to keep going. It’s getting better every day.
The opportunity to revisit Parliament House again after 15 years. And having the ABC come out to do a story on me and my success – from my addiction challenges to bouncing back to now.
Biggest Change Since Becoming a Small Business Owner
My kids have noticed the change in their dad and my eldest daughter and my son have moved back up here. Gaining a lot of respect from my kids has been great for all of us. They know that this has been a dream of mine my whole life because of all the upholstering stuff around the house when they were growing up.
Future Goals For Rex’s Upholstery Small Business
Next year I would like to go into manufacturing. At the moment I am just doing re-covers. I would like to maintain a nice, successful business with the opportunity to employ Indigenous people from the area. I am waiting for my first batch of fabric and then I want to start making cushions with Aboriginal art fabric. And I would like to show skills to anyone who would like to learn.
Thanks Rex for sharing your business journey so far. We are exciting to be joining you on this journey as it continues.
Read more about Rex and his business journey on ABC – ‘Rex Corbett Hughes made the chairs in WA’s Parliament House, but that’s just part of his story’.
We want to encourage more and more people to take that first step towards building on their small business ideas, or their existing business.
We’re here to support you the whole way.
Free online counselling programs for people who are concerned about their drug or alcohol use are available at Counselling Online and the Australian Centre for Addiction Research.
If you or someone you know is having a personal crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or chat online.