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Leveraging creativity in business

Making wooden toys with kids might not sound like a recipe for success, but when you combine it with a sustainability message and a creative passion for education, that’s exactly what it is.

Little Woodworkers is a local business that combines sustainability with fun woodworking for kids. Co-owner Jim Begley discusses how this innovative business concept has been commended for its contribution beyond the Mornington Peninsula community.

The ‘Creative Industry’ category of the Mornington Peninsula Business Excellence Awards spotlights businesses that excel in providing products or services distinguished by exceptional innovation, talent, or ground-breaking ideas. The 2022 and 2023 winner for this category was the local, family-owned business Little Woodworkers.

Little Woodworkers is a business that offers in person incursions for preschool and primary school children. The incursions teach kids about sustainability while participating in woodwork activities. They also offer woodwork packs, where students nationwide can participate in hands-on activities with video tutorials available through their website.

Go for it

Jim Begley and his wife Kerstin are the proud owners of Little Woodworkers. With over 30 years of expertise in furniture designing, Jim’s enthusiasm for woodworking awakened a vision for creating captivating and educational experiences tailored for children. In addition, Kerstin has 20+ years’ experience in office management, customer service and communication. Together, they felt they had the skills to lay the foundation of a successful business.

If you have an idea that sounds good to you and you believe enough in the idea, run with it.

It wasn’t easy to start things. Jim left a full-time job mid 2014 to pursue the business but it took them six months to get their first booking. However, things then took off and by 2019 – not even 5 years later – they celebrated reaching 1,000 woodwork incursions. This means over 25,000 children had crafted wooden toys with Jim. Although the initial stages can be daunting, Jim believes that taking the leap and really committing produced the amazing results.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jim and Kerstin couldn’t go into schools to work with students but overcame the challenges of lockdowns by creating Woodwork Packages. These creative packages were hands on and engaging and became an immediate success with teachers nationwide.

Get involved

As a business owner, Jim understands the important in being able to network, especially within the local community. He shared that meeting like-minded people and asking lots of questions allowed them to think where their business could evolve. As a result, this is what inspired Little Woodworkers to enter (and win!) the Mornington Peninsula Business Excellence Awards two years in a row.

We thought we’re going to network, we’re going to meet more people, more like minded people, and that really drove us to enter.

Jim finds that the creative conversations had during networking provides him with valuable insights into the potential directions for the business. This allows them to broaden their ideas with Little Woodworkers, taking the business to where it is now.

The judges found the way that Little Woodworkers incorporated sustainability into a socially responsible business model, but also managed to create a unique and memorable experience particularly impressive.

Jim shared some more insights in an interview on winning the 2023 award. To listen to the full interview, click on the video below.

Little Woodworkers is a small local business punching above its weight. While being small means Jim and Kerstin must juggle lots of roles, it also allows them the freedom to be creative. They have built their networks, continued to develop new products – and have been successful in doing so.

There are many successful creative businesses on the Mornington Peninsula. Highly commended in the ‘Creative Industry’ category of the 2023 Mornington Peninsula Business Excellence Awards were Locked In Escape Rooms and Peninsula Beer Garden.

Locked In Escapes Room is a business featuring interactive, live puzzle escape games. Judges were impressed by their strong commitment to customer satisfaction and the delivery of enjoyable experiences. In fact, their number one ranking in local businesses on TripAdvisor for ‘Fun and Games’ demonstrates their impact on the community.

Peninsula Beer Garden is a function venue that features a vibrant mix of music, food and culture. Judges found their commitment to environmentally sustainable initiatives, as well as their active engagement in the local community impressive. 

The Mornington Peninsula Business Excellence Awards is a chance for local businesses to be supported and celebrated by the community. In 2023, winners across nine diverse categories celebrated their achievements, highlighting their commitment to innovation, sustainability, and exceptional performance within our local business sector.

Find out more about these businesses

Content posted April 2024

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