International Women’s Day 2021 at The Bower

March 8th marked 2021’s International Women’s Day and to celebrate, The Bower turned the spotlight on some of the excellent women that share their skills through our workshop program. 



First up, we have Smith – Smith’s introduction to reclaiming, upcycling, and repurposing started with a second-hand stool she purchased to reach her kitchen cupboard. From that moment, Smith has been a trailblazer of sorts at the Bower, where she has developed an impressive skill set that includes furniture painting and woodwork.

As one of our resident workshop facilitators, Smith regularly facilitates our Furniture Painting workshops and inspires everyone she meets with her passion and commitment to the art of restoration.

Specialising in retro mid-century and industrial furniture, Smith describes herself as a wood lover – “it’s the most sustainable product there is and it’s beautiful”.


Yulia in a waterfall

Yulia is one of our newer recruits:

‘I am a Product (Industrial) Designer from Russia with industry experience in urban furniture design. I currently work as a lecturer at UNSW and I’m finishing a PhD at the Creative Robotics Lab at the UNSW School of Art & Design.

Moving to Australia has fostered my sense of connection with and caring for nature. Over time my career choices and personal values have come into conflict; I’ve become more conscious of my own contribution to environmental pollution as a designer.

This process of detachment from the excessive anthropocentric and materialistic elements of design have encouraged me to look towards repair and repurposing. I’ve found the process of repair much humbler and more satisfying than design yet not any less creative.

I joined the Bower as a workshop facilitator to promote the inclusivity and joy of repair/ redesign/ repurposing and upcycling.’


Total legend sitting on stairs demonstrating how great being a woman who works at The Bower is

A self-described ‘furniture bin chicken’, Jo’s interest in upcycling was sparked during the Finnish summer of 2017, when her mum asked her to turn an old cottage window into a hallway table.

While she had always been interested in interior and furniture design, Jo had never really tried making anything before. By the end of that summer, most of her family’s kitchen furniture had gotten a new upcycled look.

Since permanently migrating from Finland to Australia later that year, Jo attended one of The Bower’s carpentry courses and was immediately hooked. Learning how to use old-school hand tools and using secondhand materials was the ultimate clincher – coming from a country where IKEA and the Allen key reign supreme, Jo was so happy to see there were still people out there who cared about craft and the sustainability of furniture.

These days Jo facilitates multiple workshops for The Bower including Introduction to Basic Carpentry.


Chi is another of our fabulous female facilitators and we LOVE having her at Bower Woodworks to help with both bespoke and repair jobs that come through the workshop.

But it’s in her own workshop space that Chi really shines. A true craftsperson, Chi’s work is easily distinguished by its smooth lines and lustrous finishes.

“The workshop is one of those rare places where I become so immersed in what I’m doing that I completely lose track of time. Ideas for new projects spontaneously pop into my head and I can’t sit still until they’ve come to life on my bench.”

Of course, the bench itself was made by Chi from reclaimed blackbutt.