Sydney’s Vivid and the Royal Easter Show were gone, as were Melbourne music festivals Knockout Outdoor and Ultra Australia. Stagekings employs 12 full-time staff, scaling up to around 60 during the busy summer period. With big rents to service on their workshop and storage facilities, the difficult call to make all staff redundant followed.
“We needed to cut every cost we could to survive and talk to our landlords and the bank,” Fleming says.
He and wife Tabitha, Stagekings’ co-owner, strategised with second-in-command Mick Jessop, figuring they could steer a ghost ship on zero income for about five months.
Then a mate suggested pivoting to work-from-home furniture. Demand was about to soar, and, as it happens, Jessop designs and builds furniture as a hobby. “We immediately thought it was a brilliant idea and got working,” Fleming says.
Jessop came into the workshop Monday morning with designs and 3D-printed models. Calling in a router operator, by the afternoon they’d knocked up the first finished birch-ply IsoKing desk. Tabitha updated the website, arranged a photo shoot and launched a Facebook post by Tuesday afternoon. They had 30 sales that day. Seen by some 250,000 people since, they’re averaging around 120 daily sales now, working evenings and weekends to service demand with a two-day delivery.
“We’ve got our guys back on, we’re working with other out-of-work events crew, including for our delivery drivers, and we’re back up to 52 people.”
Even better, Stagekings is donating $10 from every desk sold to Support Act, a charity delivering crisis relief to arts industry workers.