They say when you start a home renovation, things tend to snowball; the scope expands, as does the timeline and budget. But for Shayne Fox, what started out as a simple kitchen renovation snowballed into something much greater: A business.
How Her Hardware Business Was Born
When Fox was searching for quality hardware for her kitchen renovation, she had no idea she’d find herself, nearly 10 years later, being the one to design, create and ship the wares she was looking for worldwide. “I was searching for hardware that was not generic, mass produced or made out of cheap materials,” says Fox. “It just hit me one day that if I was struggling to find interesting wares with presence and soul, then others might be in the same boat too.”
Shayne Fox Hardwares (SFH) was born. Having studied ceramics for years and with a background in glass blowing and blacksmithing, Fox set to work on creating in a new medium: Casting bronze. “I never imagined I would own and run and design all the items in a decorative hardware business,” says Fox. “But, once I saw the first castings, the prototypes for the GEO series, I knew I had just created something special.”
There’s Beauty in the Method
Using the same technique that was used for casting bronze dating back to 2500 B.C., SFH hand pours bronze into sand molds before finishing each piece by hand once cooled. This process means each and every piece is slightly unique, or as Fox puts it, “has soul.”
“I love the anthropological and alchemical aspects of bronze and can totally get lost learning about early beliefs associated with what it means to transform materials from one form, with heat and fire, to then create another material altogether,” says Fox. “It’s all fascinating and inspires me to experiment and play with bronze to see what I can make, and perhaps to even connect with the magic of the past on some level.”
The entire creation process, from casting to the final hand polishing and waxing, all happens within 30 kilometres of Fox’s Toronto-based home, which also doubles as the SFH office—for now. The popularity of SFH designs and increased demand for production means Fox and her team are on the hunt for a dedicated studio where they can host SFH events, a small showroom, client meetings and shipping logistics.
The Creative Influence Behind Each Piece
While all SFH pieces are made of silicon and manganese bronze, there is a design and finish to suit any space. Blackened bronze, bright bronze, warm bronze and nickel plate finishes bring new dimension to each knob, pull and handle. Fox also works with design firms to create custom pieces for clients in homes across Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe and North America.
“I have always been drawn to things that are timeless and of substance,” Fox says about her initial draw to working with bronze. “I appreciate things that have patina, soul and presence, and can stand up in terms of their form, function, quality and beauty.”
As an Emmy-nominated and award-winning set decorator and production designer in Toronto’s film industry, Fox has always been aesthetically inclined. “My career in film and TV has been invaluable in getting to know my own brain, my creative self, as well as to understand materials and how all the details matter and can culminate to create magic,” she says. “There is no better learning space than actually doing things, solving design problems and building things out of thin air. Nobody can teach you how to have good instincts… you basically have to live it yourself.”
The nature of production schedules has allowed Fox to continue her work in the film industry on hit shows like FX’s What We Do in the Shadows and Netflix’s Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker, while simultaneously running her business. “I love designing sets for TV shows and films and the work environment is so team oriented and collaborative,” says Fox. “My hardware business is more of a solo driven enterprise and creative outlet.”
Versatility is an Art Form
Fox embraces the fluid nature of her workdays as she alternates from designing sets, to designing hardware, overseeing logistics, hand finishing pieces and creating content to market her products. “I have to say it’s been pretty satisfying to build something out of nothing,” she says. “To grow a teeny side hustle from my dining room table into a full blown business that has an international presence, has been pretty cool.”
When she’s not on the set of her latest film project, you’ll find Fox designing new ranges, growing her team and planning for global showrooms someday—the possibilities of SFH are as endless as the possibilities of bronze. “As long as it’s authentic and you truly love it,” she says, “chances are pretty high that others will too.”