What many may not know is that the Hervey Bay resident is also an incredible leather artisan – a hobby that he turned into a business, purely by following his dream of working from home.
About 12 months ago, the road to becoming an online business owner started after the 27-year-old’s favourite leather wallet gave up the ghost.
He searched high and low for a find a suitable replacement but none of them made the cut. So, he bought a basic leather kit off eBay and made one.
“I actually made it really good for the first one and found I really enjoyed it and got really into it,” Shohei said.
“I always wanted to work from home … I have been selling internationally to the US and Canada mainly, and some sales in Australia.
“It all happened really quickly.” That was the successful beginning of two online businesses called The Sho Room and Sayaya, and a collaboration of selling Steam Punk-themed leather goods with World Bazaar owner Kristen Young, where bracelets and belts are a hit in the Scarness store.
The two online stores have a heavy focus on personalised, custom-made leather goods like wallets, watch straps and phone cases.
“I encourage the people to actually give me the ideas, rather than selling my own. I like to do what they like. “If you have a photo of a dog, I will carve the dog. If you like a horse, I will do the picture of the horse in carving and paint.” Shohei said custom-made knife sheaths for chefs had also been one of his biggest sellers on the Sayaya site.
“There’s some very passionate chefs with very fancy knives,” he said.
“Some of them spend thousands of dollars, so much money, so they like the decorative stuff to protect their knives, and I love it myself because I’m a chef as well.”
There was no formal training for the chef turned leather artisan, who is also currently training to be a scuba dive master. A mix of determination, talent and YouTube videos was his ingredients to success. “It’s been a challenge of course but I have been enjoying it.
“It was all self-taught; I couldn’t find anyone around here to teach me but online resources are so good these days that you don’t have to travel to find someone to train you, there’s enough information online. “I am still learning, every day. So far, I am very happy with my progress.”
Shohei said his idea of the perfect lifestyle is doing what you love every day, and he has done just that. “My idea of life is to do whatever I like for living so I always turn a hobby and things I like into a job.
“I want to keep cooking of course and I want to keep doing this (leather work), and within the week I might have one or two weekend nights that I’m free so I can do private cooking, and that would be awesome … just working for myself, from home, doing things I like.
“I’m just doing things I like and I’m pretty happy.”
Check out Shohei’s products on Facebook or at http://www.sayayaleather.com.