On the tools with Dan and Chelsey Mitchener of West Wood
WRITTEN BY Coffee Supreme
28 February 2019

Earlier this month we wrapped up another Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE). Here, at Australia's largest coffee expo we served Naughty Milk Slushies, a Cold Brew Colombian and toast with Fix & Fogg Peanut Butter to hundreds of attendees.

The stand that we served these tasty treats from is one we're super proud of. Designed in-house by our Art Dept, it was inspired by the despatch section of our Wellington HQ. Now that MICE is over, we're repurposing the stand in Melbourne's despatch area where the red tote bins will house all of the single origins and blends we have on offer.

Trade shows have a bit of a reputation of being wasteful so we are happy that our stand was built using sustainable timbers and will almost entirely be reused. We spoke to the co-founders of West Wood, Chelsey and Dan Mitchener, who built the stand and offered creative solutions throughout the whole process.

Meet the Mitcheners

I’ve just arrived on the planet, who are the Mitcheners?
Chelsey: Kia Ora Koutou. Dan is from Aotearoa and I am from Australia. We met in Australia in 1997 and quickly fell in loooove, and made babies. 1x Tsar in Aus in 1999, and 1x Isis in NZ in 2002. We both value humanity, sustainability, friends, family and design.

Dan started his work with timber when he was building houses in New Zealand, not the leaky ones, architecturally designed ones with attention to detail. It was evident from the start that Dan was interested in the perfect finish, striving to make the detail easy and seamless. After moving back to Aus with the family in 2010 Dan spent a year or two working for builders but never felt the opportunity to strive for perfection, and so began to move his attention to joinery and furniture. Self-employed, then in a business partnership, then began trading as West Wood with me as a business partner for the last 4-5 years.

I have always had a passion for textiles and design and went to study Fashion and Textiles in Geelong after school. I really began to work within the industry when we moved to live in NZ in 2001 when I started working with the legendary Starfish fashion label. Then moved over to help the other legend Kowtow transform from it’s t-shirt start-up into a fashion-forward brand.

What lead you to set up your own company instead of working for ‘the man’ - whoever the man is - himself?
Dan has been self-employed for most of his working life… It’s not really a choice, he just thinks he can do it better than you… However owning a business and having staff has been a massive, humbling learning curve. Now he knows it’s not who can do it better, it’s who can pull together the best team and get the best out of them. And who better than your actual partner to come on that journey with you. Especially when she’s got the goods.

What are the best and worst things about working with your loved one?
Dan: The best thing is that you can’t escape the conversation of different opinion. It’s seriously the best thing to not just have your own opinion drive the business direction.

The worst thing is in the early stages when all the business mess is at home. My advice is to leave it out, or learn very quickly when to change the subject.

Chelsey: Best: Communication. Worst: Communication.

What’s your morning routine?
Dan: If I press the snooze button too many times it’s a quick muesli then out to get an espresso on my way to the workshop. If I get up with some time it’s either muesli or tea and toast with peanut butter (loving the Fix and Fogg collab with Supreme), then out to grab an espresso on my way to the workshop. I’ll pace around with my breaky until my brain tells me to “sit down because you're going nowhere”. The less dishes the better, always.

Chelsey: Shower, get dressed, wake whichever child is hoping to get a ride to school that day, standing breakfast, some house chores then out the door... Usually 15 minutes after the time I wanted to leave. Once I get to work I grab an espresso on the cooler days or cold brew when it's hot.

Smooth or crunchy?
Crunchy, always.

Vegemite or Marmite?
Vegemite, always.

Best Melbourne cheap eat?
In the inner west we are treated to many.. Can’t go past a BBQ pork Banh Mi from Nhu Lan bakery in Footscray. Was $2.80, is now $5.50...

What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Dan: I honestly love my job! Particularly the making part. Also pretty keen to have my family feel safe and secure with clothes, food and a roof etc...
Chelsey: I love my bed, but I’m good with getting going in the mornings (although Dan may not agree) because I like to get stuff done. Family, the people I work with and being inspired by my surroundings help to get me out of bed.

The biggest design cliché right now is...
Chelsey: In interiors, it’s deliberately dishevelled throws on a sofa or on the end of a bed.
Dan: Chunky timber furniture.

Favourite building or piece of furniture?
Da: So far, the Entertainment Unit in West Woods 1819 range, haha.
Chelsey: The design of the NGV building and it’s 1960’s geometric external with a jumble of interesting interior areas, particularly the stained glass ceiling in the great hall.

Where do you look to for inspo?
Dan: There isn’t much not online nowadays. I look to nature and history. Chelsey also looks to history but is also inspired by up and coming trends from progressive professionals and creative friends, she has her own clear design direction.

Best holiday destination?
Dan: I’m a big fan of New Zealand for family, friends and the bush. Chelsey has a childhood affinity for the Great Ocean Road beaches here in Victoria. We both love other old historic cultures and really enjoyed small villages in Southern France. We had a hallelujah moment many years ago, driving into a particularly beautiful village called Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Look it up. It's magic.

If you’d like to utilise the timber skills of West Wood you can find them at [email protected] and on Instagram at @west_wood_melbourne.

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