When customers discover that Heritage Musical Spoons is a father-son business, they often are intrigued and want to know more. Here, Mathieu shares our story.
What inspired Richard to start making musical spoons?
My dad has been doing woodworking since he was a teen. He made all the furniture in our family home and also has made furniture for friends and family. He has excellent skills and instincts when it comes to making things. (Except for food!)
For many years, my father didn't do woodworking as a business but just for the sheer enjoyment of it. That changed in 1997 after a friend asked him to carve some spoons to sell to his tourist clients. Soon the word spread about his high-quality spoons. He was contacted by a tour operator and then by some gift stores in the Quebec area. Then, he started to receive bigger orders.
At the same time, my dad lost his job as an environmental technician due to economic downsizing. While looking for a new job, he began spending more and more time making spoons. Soon, he started to sell them at Christmas markets from Vancouver to Toronto and developed a lucrative business. However, there were ups and downs, including the events of 9/11, which severely impacted the tourism business in Canada.
How did Mathieu get involved in the business?
I grew up with spoons. Woodworking the spoon is a simple process, so I was one of my father's first employees. I remember drawing the spoon's shape on a piece of wood before my father would cut it on the bandsaw.
However, as a teenager, I hated working on the spoons. It didn't feel like a real job to me; it felt more like a household chore, such as cleaning the house or taking out the garbage. At that age, all I wanted to do was hang out with my friends.
I eventually ended up going to university in a different city. After earning my degree in business, I traveled in India for four months. Then I began a successful marketing career, working in marketing and project management for L'Oréal and Air Canada. Soon, however, I began to feel trapped and unfulfilled. I guess you could say that I had my mid-life crisis a bit early! I was only in my mid-20s, but I longed for something different.
During this time, my father was having difficulties with his spoon business. After hearing the desperation in his voice during a phone call, I drove home to help him figure out a plan to get things back on track. After a few months, I began to realize the strong potential of the company. I also began to appreciate what my father had discovered years before – the freedom of owning your own business.
After two years, I made the decision to join the business full-time in 2017.
How do you two divide the responsibilities of the business?
My father likes to say that I'm the brains of the business, and he is the heart. I handle business developments and administration. He spends most of his time at the workshop doing production-related things. He recently finished building a second workshop since we outgrew our first one.
I think of it this way. We're both builders. He builds things out of wood, and I am building our business. I find the work truly fulfilling, and I would not accept another job even if the pay was 10 times greater!