My name is Viktor and I operate The Stump Shop out of my home workshop in Newmarket, Ontario. I am a married to my beautiful wife Victoria and have two wonderful little children. I work with reclaimed wood focusing on actual tree stumps and other useable portions of the tree. I create unique, one of a kind pieces and elegant furniture. I started this business venture in a very unique and exciting way. Let me first explain that I had no previous woodworking experience or desire and simply had an idea one day and decided to go ahead and follow the vision and see where this dream could take me. I was out mountain biking one day in a local ravine in Toronto and laid eyes on an old, dirty and uneven stump. This stump, for some reason, sparked a passion within me that I didn’t even know existed. I finished my ride that day and returned to reclaim the stump. I dragged the stump into my car, took it home and started the process of learning how to turn this wood into something beautiful.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
I found myself facing a variety of challenges at first, many of which were not problems that I could instantly fix or come up with solutions to. When working with any type of wood, some of the main challenges anyone, including myself face are numerous. First of all I didn’t have the space required to woodwork. I had to move things around, alter my garage and most importantly convince my family that this was something I wanted to pursue. Second, and probably the most expensive hurdle to overcome is the lack of tools. At this time I only had the very basic tools required around the house and no woodworking tools. Having started a new vision for which I had no idea how things will work out, I wasn’t able to go out and buy everything I needed right away. As I slowly learned the art trough YouTube, woodworking books and trial and error, I slowly acquired the necessary tools. The journey continued.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
Once that original piece was complete, I was lucky that it turned out amazing. My family quickly came aboard the journey and started to support me more and more once they saw the results. That one stump led to another and another and I was unable to keep them in stock as family and friends were buying all my pieces.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur? In hindsight, I would change one thing. I would’ve learned the art of drying and seasoning wood properly. I quickly learned through a few failed pieces (cracked, finish bubbled) how important it is to properly learn the finer points of whatever it is you are working on. Luckily my early customers understood and I quickly repaired or replaced those few pieces. Since then I have sworn to an exceptional customer service motto and vigorous quality control. Had it not been for my initial minor failures, I probably never would have learned the true art of woodworking. DO NOT LET YOUR INITIAL SET BACKS STOP YOU!!
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Upon my wife introducing me to Instagram, that really launched my business to a new level. I don’t use any other social media because Instagram is photo based making the most sense for my business. I get to showcase my pieces while building a solid foundation within the woodworking community. I would encourage any new entrepreneur to take advantage of what social media has to offer, learn how to use it properly and become engaged with your audience. You’d be surprised how much free knowledge is out there.
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
My final advice to any new entrepreneur just starting out on this brand new journey is to never quit. It really is easier to say than to do but seriously! If you have something in mind, pursue those visions. Research, research and research. Talk to those who did it before you, visit the pros, ask questions and go through with it. Stay positive and DO NOT expect anything to happen over night. If you have something in mind, figure out the steps needed to achieve those results and start hustling.