“When it’s your true passion it’s not hard to do it" - says Simon Maillet during his interview on my podcast. How did he reach this point? I asked him lots of questions to find out! Simon is a French knifemaker based in Sheffield, with a background in urban ecology and landscape design. In this episode he shares tales from his bike ride across Europe when he met a Belgian Bladesmith from Spain, why he moved to Sheffield three years ago, and when he started to work full time as a bladesmith knife maker. This is a man who truly loves and appreciates his work - showing that it's possible, even when you might not initially know what changes to make.
“The life I was living wasn’t really fit for me.”
In this episode, I interviewed Simon Maillet, a French knifemaker in Sheffield. Before taking up his current craft, his background was in urban ecology and landscape design.
Simon shares some stories about his bike trip from France to Iran, some insight into the challenges he faces with speaking English and living away from his family in France, and his thoughts on how he found what had been missing from his life.
Here is the full list of questions that I asked Simon:
Who inspired you to take a different path?
Was there a particular turning point that made you realise that you could make a change?
What made you go on the cycling trip from France to Iran?
How important is it to you now to travel?
Do you think meeting the blacksmith had a big influence on you?
What were the first steps that you took towards making significant changes?
What were the other jobs you were doing in the early stages to support your craft?
Do you have moments when you worry and think you need to look for other work?
Have there been any bumps in the road along the way?
Where did you learn your skills as a bladesmith?
How have you developed your technique since you started making knives?
How do you feel when you go into your workshop?
What is your approach to finding locally-sourced materials?
Who buys the knives that you make and are they the people that you’re aiming for?
How do you sell your knives?
Is photography a skill that you’ve taught yourself?
Does anyone else support you with your business?
What’s it like living and working in Sheffield for you?
Do people take the opportunity to visit your workshop?
What standard of living are you working towards?
Do you still have an appetite for travel?
Is there anywhere in particular that you would love to go to?
Do you still feel a connection with your background in urban ecology and landscape design?
How do you most like to spend your time when you’re not working?
Is it important to you to take a break from thinking about your craft?
What question would you like to ask our listeners, who are perhaps considering a career change into work as a craftsperson, that might help them to make a start?
I think that this interview will be particularly valuable if you are thinking about:
starting something else or making a change in your life, but you're not sure what
learning a craft
turning your craft into a business
taking some time out for travel
what type of work you might enjoy doing
moving to a different country
The opportunity to meet up arose through Sheffield Creative Guild when Simon posted on the website about wanting to meet other members and offered visits to his workshop. As soon as I saw his website and travel story I got in touch straight away and invited him on as a guest on my podcast.
This episode was recorded outdoors in the Peak District by Sarah Lister on 2nd June 2021 and edited by Gabby Wolstenholme. There was a brief interruption when a helicopter flew right over us. We were sat in a woodland surrounded by bluebells during the interview, and then went for a walk together. During the walk he taught me how to identify some trees which was really interesting, and he gave me a wonderful gift of homemade pear jam which is absolutely delicious!
References during this episode include:
Freeman College: https://www.rmt.org/freeman/
Sheffield Knife Sharpening: https://www.sheffieldknifesharpening.com/
About The Adventure now has a patreon community where you can support this podcast and receive support with your own career change. By getting involved with the community you can put forward your own questions for guests, suggest the types of work that you'd like to hear more about, and get invited to exclusive events. With your contributions I can make episodes more regularly and create a community that focuses on values, creativity and connection as a more inspiring approach to career change. I hope to see you there!
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