Brought to you by Open Colleges

Turning an idea or a hobby into an awesome business? You can!

by Yvette Maurice

Creative Business: Chester from Work-Shop

Do you have an awesome business idea? Are you a budding enterpriser? Open Colleges chats to Chester from Work-Shop, a founder of one of the coolest, most creative business ideas we’ve heard of in a while.

Chester Garcia is very passionate about what he does. He and his business partner Matt Branagan, co-founded Work-Shop, a creative space where people can get together to “unleash their inner awesome.”

“We felt there was a need for people to be able to express themselves creatively,” Chester says. “We believe creativity is at the core of all human beings and we thought that people in this area had a lack of access to creative activities.”

Want to learn glass blowing? Sausage making? How to tie knots or make a terrarium? Chester and Matt’s business idea was very unique – and that’s part of the reason it was successful.

Business Ideas: The Work-Shop space

The Work-Shop space. Image via Corker Mag

Open Colleges spoke to Chester to find out how he got his unique business idea off the ground.

Work-Shop’s beginning came from an idea, as all brave ventures do. After months spent planning their business journey, partners Chester and Matt pitched their idea at a TEDx event, then they managed to land a high-profile venue. The duo wanted to create a place where “upcoming or emerging artists could sell their products in a really cool environment – a platform to be able to express themselves.”

Part of Work-Shop is “The Makery” a spot where artisans can gather together and sell their wares. “We’ve got everything from illustrators to candle makers to people who do ethical fashion.”

“We give people the tools to use their imagination. It’s about having something tangible at the end. It’s not only about using your imagination, but it’s about the outcome.”

Could you turn a hobby or a “great idea” into a business?

Turning a great idea into a business

Learn to make a terrarium at Work-Shop, try sausage making or tattoo illustration

Chester says that there are a few tips he could give for turning a hobby or an idea into a business.

“You really have to ignore external advice,” he explains, “or listening to people that say you can’t do things.  You just have to be steadfast, believe in what you do and do it – regardless of what people are saying.”

Does he believe that there is a trend towards entrepreneurship these days? “I think being an entrepreneur is when people are not reliant on the system to be able to live or create things.”

“(Matt and I) didn’t go into this thinking, ‘Hey, we’re gonna be entrepreneurs’.  We’re doing things from the heart.  We decided to launch our business regardless of whether there were monetary rewards or whether there was fame or anything like that.  I think it’s something that we just need to do inherently.”

To be current, you need to constantly re-assess your core business values

It’s been reported that within the new generation of workers, 91 per cent of people start a job thinking that they’re only going to remain in that role for about two to three years. This means that people in Gen Y and Gen Z anticipate to have about 15 to 20 different jobs in their lifetime.

This is no surprise to Chester.

“I guess the dynamic nature of things and also technology changes what you can do.  I think things change so quickly that you need to evolve and get skills to be able to keep up.  I think with entrepreneurs there is one thing that you’re passionate about and you do it regardless of what’s happening around you.”

What advice could Chester give to those who are experiencing a creative block?

“In today’s day and age, we’re so entrenched in media, TV and online.  We’ve got lots of distractions.  So I think stepping outside those things that distract you from actually being creative is important. Also, being around people that inspire you to do things without judgement.”

What are some of the skills entrepreneurs need?

skills entrepreneurs need

Danielle Pearce, Chester Garcia and Matt Branagan from Work-Shop.

“Networking is an essential part of what you do,” Chester explains, “because I think we tend to align ourselves with the people that we work with, and we’ll only work with people that share all the values we do.”

“You can network.  There’s a few ways to approach that, but we’re very specific with who we deal with because for us to actually reach to our people, I think we need to be working with the right people as well.”

Next, Chester and Matt plan to open Work-Shops in other states, currently there is one studio in Redfern, Sydney.

“I’m about to head down to Melbourne next week to set up Work-Shop down there,” Chester says.  “We’ll be launching in the next couple of months.”

Next, Work-Shop is looking to employ a cobbler and glass blower.

The importance of diversity

“We try to keep the portfolios diverse as we can,” says Chester. “We’re trying to cater for everyone.  We’re certainly trying to give people skills that will enrich their lives rather than learning to get a better job.”

“We’re definitely in the business of learning to have a better life.”

How to turn creativity into your career: 6 quick tips

turn creativity into your career

#1: Hatch a plan

You’ll get much further if you plan things out – take some time to think of all the elements of your creative venture, right down to timing and budget.

#2: Think outside the box

What do you have to offer that is different and unique? How could you tackle the marketplace in a bold way? Let your imagination run wild and consider the possibilities. What could you be doing differently? If you’ve been trying to hatch a creative plan and you’re not getting anywhere – what other approaches could you take?

#3: Know your niche

What do you do best – what is your POD or Point of Difference? Each person has something unique to offer so spend some time mapping out your saleable qualities.

#4: Network with like-minds

Make connections with people online and in your community. Offer to work for experience or ask someone if they will mentor you. Find others doing what you are trying to.

#5: Don’t take no for an answer

Especially when you are starting out, it pays to be bold and determined. Make sure you maintain respect for people and you’ll find that it will be harder for them to say no!

#6: Lead, don’t copy

Really, there are no new ideas, only new ways to do old things. Could you be more creative by capitalising on something that no one has done before? Give it a try!

Want to find out more?

Head to the Work-Shop website for more information.

Want to start a small business? The BSB40407 Certificate IV in Small Business Management is a nationally recognised qualification that will give you a solid foundation for getting your ideas off the ground. 

Or search over 100 online courses here.

Image credits:,, (small Chester) – many thanks!

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