27 Jul 2018

The high-end swing business with its HQ in King Country

From Country Life, 9:40 pm on 27 July 2018

Should you be driving through the tiny King Country village of Matiere, you could quite well mistake it for a ghost town.

On the main street, old buildings look forsaken, some are boarded up, where there is paint it's peeling and gardens are rambling and overgrown.

There's little sign this town and its farming surrounds was once home to 700 people.

But first appearances can be deceiving.

Stop and listen carefully and, above the bird song, you might just hear the rumble of a sewing machine and, turn an ear across the road, you may be able to make out the buzz of an electric sander.

Jenny Etherington and Thomas Mortimer have chosen Matiere as the base for their growing business.

It's home to the international headquarters of Solvej Swings – a business that sells its hand-crafted children's swings through up-market stores in Europe, the United States and Australia.

The business started more than 20 years ago when Thomas and Jenny took an old deck chair apart to fashion a swing for their daughter Solvej.

She had loved swinging in her friend's moulded plastic swing.

"But of course my background as a cabinet maker and craft teacher I didn't like the plastic, so I made a swing made from wood and canvas in the way that I remember from my childhood," Thomas says.   

Time and time again visitors would Thomas if he was making swings to sell.

He was asked so often he thought he would give it a go.

3,000 swings will be made this year.

Their wooden components will be crafted in Matiere's former Methodist church and the canvas sewn in a workshop in the bank managers' living quarters behind the former Bank of New South Wales.