James ist ein relaxter Südafrikaner, der seine Freizeit mit Surfen und Skateboarden verbringt. So kam es, dass er seinen selbstentworfenen Bert 3000 nach einem Skateboard Trick benannte. Wir wollten mehr über seinen Bert und sein Leben in Südafrika erfahren, so baten wir ihn zum Interview.
You design and produce bottle openers. How did you have the idea? How did it all start?
In November 2011 I started working for Ross from Jack Black Brewing Co, manning their small stand at the Stellenbosch "Slow Food Market" at Oude Libertas. The stand basically consisted of a modified wine barrel in which bottled beers were submerged under water and ice. The first 2 or 3 weeks I struggled with the regular steel opener as it kept falling into the tub and sinking to the bottom. I knew that I needed some sort of wooden opener which could float, so I did an online search and was blown away when I saw a most beautiful bent-nail bottle opener! It was ergonomically designed and curvy, so I just made a simplified version for myself. Anyway, when I started using it at the beer stand the customers absolutely loved the opener and many of them said I should make more and sell them on the side. So I did! I now sell them under my own "Bert3000" Brand, but also do company logos for micro-breweries etc.
Do you produce the bottle openers all yourself or is somebody helping you?
I produce all of them by myself, to my own very high quality standards! But there has been the occasional large order where I needed the help from a friend or two.
Please describe the working process of your product.
The wood (European Pink Beech) is delivered to the workshop already thicknesses and sawed into long strips. My work starts by cross-cutting the strips into the right lengths. The rough blocks are sanded and the edges softened on a belt-sander. Before drilling the holes for the nail, leather cord and magnet, I punch a small hole into the wood exactly in the middle of the top edge for where the nail hole is to be drilled. After all the drilling and sanding comes the logo branding, with the branding iron heated by a blow torch (or in the case of custom logos the blank blocks are taken to the laser engraving company). The nails are driven in by hammer, and the magnets glued in place. Then after some finer sanding each opener is dipped into linseed oil to give a good finish. After oiling the leather strings are attached, and voila!
What are the future plans for your business?
I plan to slowly grow and expand locally, to a level where I can employ someone to manufacture the items full time. Then I will be able to more strongly focus on sales and creating awareness around the rest of South Africa and perhaps even get a couple more clients overseas for custom branding.
How does a perfect day in Cape Town look like?
In short it´s a day of beautiful weather and lots of outdoor activity (on the weekend of course...)! I would start with an early morning surf with water that is not too cold, followed by a big breakfast in Blouberg Strand. Then a late morning Frisbee session in De Waal Park, Kloof Street Park or Clifton Beach. In the afternoon you could have a relaxed braai at Ouderkraal Beach overlooking the ocean. Come late afternoon and walk up the side of Table Mountain, above the "Pipe Track", will lead to a perfect chill spot to take in a colorful sunset. And for dinner: watch a movie in the Labia Theatre with pizza! They offer a great special where you get 2 movie tickets and 2 pizzas from Diva Cafe.
My favorite restaurant - Starling & Hero Bicycle Cafe
... beach - Clifton 1st Beach
...market - Stellenbosch Slow Food Market
...vineyard - Delaire (I don't know their wines too well, but the layout and view up there on the Helshoogte pass is quite something...)