About the store: Baxter & Black

Sometimes paths cross, even overseas. We're very happy to have met Nathan and Rachel from Baxter & Black located in Australia. They run a  shoe and bag repair store, where it is all about attention to detail, craftsmanship, and the best techniques. And a little side note; They are the first Australian store to sell CPTN originals. 
Baxter & Black, Newtown, Shoe & Bag repair, Australia
Nathan and Rachel, please tell us a little bit about yourselves, where are you from and what you do?
Nathan started his career as a pathologist and moved into shoe repair in his mid-twenties. He learnt what he could from local cobblers in Perth, before moving to Sydney where he developed his passion for shoe-making. He travelled to London to learn from the team at Carreducker. I'm a Graphic Designer and used to work on the Australian and European fashion magazines up until about eight years ago. I now run my own design agency from my studio in Newtown, Sydney. I work with large companies, but really enjoy helping small businesses reach their financial and emotional goals.

What gave you the idea of starting your own business together? How has it grown since you started?
I saw the hole in the market for a repairing designer and vintage goods. I happened to have friends that have very expensive shoes that were happy to give to Nathan to experiment on. Luckily those experiments went really well and no shoes were harmed. We started only repairing bespoke shoes from our warehouse in inner Sydney, before opening to the public. Not everyone has $3000 shoes, some spent $20 and love them just as much. We give just as much love to anything that comes through the door, because generally people who track us down, want the best for their item.
Baxter & Black, Newtown, Shoe & Bag repair, Australia
Baxter & Black is located in Newtown Australia, for us, this is the other side of the world, can you describe the vibe of this town?
Newtown was the first shopping street in Sydney and went to wreck and ruin for decades before having a resurgence in around 2000. It's now where all the cool cafes, nightclubs, shops, barbers and hairdressers are. We chose Enmore Road in Newtown as its where all the quirky smaller stores are, whereas King Street (15 meters away) is mostly chain stores.

What do you like most about working together?
We have such a good understanding of what our brand and customer is, we work really well together. Plus. Nathan gives good shoulder rubs. If he wasn't my husband, he'd get into a bit of trouble.
Baxter & Black, Newtown, Shoe & Bag repair, Australia
Nathan, you went to Europe to train with Carreducker, leading London bespoke shoemakers. Can you name things that you've learned there that you will always remember?
Nathan gained the attitude that you should be open to learning, and there's always a 'what next?' This has translated for us that when we have found obstacles in supplier products, we've gove overseas and found what we've needed.

You also led a team of carefully trained cobblers at Baxter & Black, what’s the working culture like?
Our working culture is quite structured. We have our own specific duties of expertise and because of our focus, it tends to be a quiet workplace. We don't have music playing so I can hear the sewing machines working, because you can tell when a stitch is missed or the tension is off. We check each other's work to ensure high quality. But then we do have a gas bag when we are at lunch and check out the latest shoe-related posts on Instagram :)
Baxter & Black, Newtown, Shoe & Bag repair, Australia
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced with your own business?
The Australian bureaucracy does not do any favours for any small businesses that are trying to do it 'above board'. Our three biggest challenges: lack of experienced staff willing to work on the books, high tax and high import taxes and shipping costs.

Your clients send shoes and bags to you for repair from all around Australia and even internationally, what is the most memorable piece you have repaired?
We received a beautiful 1950s alligator bag from a woman in a regional Australian town. The bag had been handed down from her mother and she was restoring it for her daughter. It looked brand new after we'd finished. It's probably the most beautiful bag I have seen (since visiting the Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam!).

And last but not least, do you have any tips for entrepreneurs that want to start their own business?
Have a firm understanding of what you want to do and set goals in the first year that are reasonable. Most importantly... enjoy the journey, not just the reward at the end.
Make sure to visit: Baxter & Black, 20 Enmore Rd, Newtown NSW 2042, Australia
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