CARVING A NEW BUSINESS: SHINING A LIGHT ON TRAUMA RECOVERY
21 December 2020
Veteran and former police officer Matt Lewis has found a way to combine his love for timber craft with his desire to help survivors recover from trauma.
His new business MxM Made By Matt, specialises in uniquely designed, handcrafted Guardian Lights using reclaimed timber and fallen logs sourced from his lime bark bush block on Queensland’s Granite Belt.
Matt’s business is inspired by his experience of dealing with trauma and Post-traumatic stress disorder. He learned how survivors of trauma can develop an adversity to the dark. Matt wants to create a beautiful product that plays a role in recovery by offering comfort and helping others feel safe enough to sleep. He admits coping methods, such as the use of child-like nightlights, often increases stigma. Matt’s business responds to a lack of purpose-designed products available on the market for recovery.
“[Customers] need a small light that’s unobtrusive… something that doesn’t draw attention or doesn’t highlight a person’s need to have some sort of security or light on at nighttime… that if they wake at night it’s not pitch black, it’s not dark.”
Matt chooses Australian Hardwoods and Amber Resin to pay tribute to the strength and resilience of the survivors of trauma. Matt says he finds inspiration and strength by observing how the Australian bush overcomes adversity, drought, flood, and fire. His use of Amber Resin references how fire can be both destructive, yet bring new life, something trauma survivors can relate to.
“I’ve always liked working with timber... Even when timber dies, it becomes life to something else. I think it’s the gift that keeps on giving”.
Matt reached out to Soldier On at the start of COVID-19 to help him manage his mental health. Soldier On recognised Matt’s interests and referred him to Prince’s Trust Australia to join the September Enterprise Online program, a free workshop designed for the Veteran and Defence partner community. Enterprise Online supports participants to safely explore their business ideas and consider self-employment as a viable career pathway.
“I really hadn’t toyed with the idea of any sort of business at all, it was really just a pipe dream. And so the opportunity came up through Soldier On, they made a reference to the Enterprise Online and I was just like ok, let’s see what that has to offer me. And what I’ve been able to take away from them, it’s been pretty much nonstop since then”.
Matt hopes that through the launch of his new business, his Guardian Lights can provide hope for those suffering from trauma.
“If I’m able to help them through part of their recovery, or at least start them on their journey or help them on their way, that’s a sense of accomplishment for me. Because you know, I had my help and without it, things would be a lot different for me.”
About Prince’s Trust Australia
Prince’s Trust Australia is part of The Prince’s Trust Group, a global network of charities founded by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. Prince’s Trust Australia supports the development and delivery of innovative, high impact projects across three focus areas: Young People, Sustainable Communities, and Defence Members & Their Families. The Prince’s Trust Australia Trust is chaired by The Hon Julie Bishop.
The Prince’s Trust Group also includes work carried out by The Prince’s Trust in New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom and a range of other countries through The Prince’s Trust International. This global network provides meaningful support to military veterans and their families, young people, Indigenous communities, and environmental projects.
Since 2015, Prince's Trust Australia has been inspiring veterans and their families into entrepreneurship. We support all veterans and ADF family members with the confidence, skills, and networks you need to explore self-employment and prepare for the rapidly changing world of work through our free Enterprise program.
Inspiring businesses we've helped through our program include:
- Indira Organics
- Relic Design & Craft Co
- Burnished Silver
- Healthy You HQ
- Pryority Droneworks
- Jodi Allen Nutrition
- In The Knit of Time
- That Vintage Tradewind
We are guided by an Advisory Council, chaired by the Governor-General, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d) and attended by Major General Natasha Fox AM CSC, Head of People Capability at Department of Defence.
Prince’s Trust Australia also works alongside other veteran support organisations like Soldier On to help enable veterans and their families to thrive.
About Soldier On
Soldier On is a not-for-profit veteran support organisation delivering a range of services to enable contemporary veterans and their families to thrive. It is Australia's only national fully integrated and holistic support services provider for our national service personnel and their families. Soldier On currently reaches more than one million Australian veterans and their families.
Soldier On's services include a range of mental health and wellbeing, employment support and education programs, as well as activities focused on connections with family, friends, and the broader community.
Where to find support
If you, or a veteran or family member you are working with, indicates that he/she is they are experiencing mental health difficulties or is reporting to you signs of distress, please contact Soldier On 1300 620 380 or the Open Arms veteran support service. Open Arms is a free service, funded by Department of Veterans' Affairs, for anyone who has served in the ADF. Their 24-hour support and referral line is confidential and available on 1 800 011 046. Lifeline also offers a crisis support chat service via phone on 13 11 14 or via online communications at lifeline.org.au.
For more details, please contact Jasmine Cooper Sutton, Director for Defence Members and Their Families at Prince’s Trust Australia.