Matt Lewis Pathways website

Carving a new business: Shining a light on trauma recovery

Veteran and former police officer Matt Lewis has found a way to combine his love for timbercraft 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.”

Article written by Lydia Teychenné, Prince’s Trust Australia.

About Prince’s Trust Australia
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

Our programs are delivered nationally and supported by an Advisory Council, Chaired by the Governor-General of Australia.

Register your interest here or email events@princes-trust.org.au

Prince’s Trust Australia also works alongside other veteran support organisation’s like Soldier On to help enable veterans and their families to thrive

About Solider 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, indicate that 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.

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