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Community Highlights: Meet Prabhs Matharoo of Studio Singh LLC

Today we’d like to introduce you to Prabhs Matharoo.

Hi Prabhs, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
It’s been a roller coaster of a ride, with a lot of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. I come from a family of immigrants; my dad was the first one from his family to leave his home in Punjab, India and move to Oman to start his own business. Essentially, I grew up in an Indian household while also being exposed to the diverse cultures in Oman. Fast forward 17 years, I was able to move to Tucson to study Architecture at the University of Arizona, through my family’s hard work I had every intention of becoming a world-class Architect. I wanted to design the biggest, tallest and most innovative buildings only to realize that the Architecture world doesn’t work like that After I swept up my shattered, childhood dreams, I started to take an open-minded approach to my education: learn and experience as much as I can and choose what to absorb and use that to define my life path. Oddly enough, having never held a screwdriver while growing up, I had a natural attraction and affinity for building things It was just any other day in our shop, building something for our structures class, my friend asked me if I wanted to start making straight razors with him. Thinking he was dumb and didn’t know how hard that task was, I humored him. We went to our shop managers, storage yard, picked up his old forge and set it up. We lit the forge and that was it the forge was roaring in a burst of flame, gas and heat. It was beautiful.

After apologizing to my friend and realizing that I was the dumb one, we got to smashing steel on our anvil-like two kids in a candy store. After weeks of forging, we finally made a straight razor, each and thought that it was super hard to understand and practice the intricacies of the straight razor. I decided to start simple and forge a knife. He went off on other ventures I had every intention of making a few knives each year, but Architecture school is no joke, and you might as well think of it as a personal hell. Life happened, and I had to focus on my education which caused knife making to slip away I dabbled for a while and it was when I met my wife that things started to reignite themselves. After dating for a few years, we knew that we wanted to be with each other for life. We were getting married, and as gifts for my groomsmen, I decided that I wanted to make them custom knives as a thank you. This was going to be my test to see whether or not knife making is for me. I set out to make six smaller knives and two larger kitchen knives. It was a struggle to get back into the grind, but it paid off. Not only did these knives turn out incredible and was well-received by all my friends, but it solidified to me that I can do this. What was missing? Legal restrictions because of Immigration As stressful, scary and confusing the immigration process is, it was the one life experience that really reframed my outlook on life It taught me perspective Due to very specific requirements, I had to prove my worth to every employer in order to have them take a gamble to sponsor my visa.

Every day that went by, I had to work hard and better than everyone to solidify that that gamble was worth it. I learned the value of hard work, even though I should take more vacations No matter how hard life is, things could always be worse, and they could slip away at any time. It taught me to be grateful for everything I have. After a mountain of paperwork and interviews, I got my permanent residency. From day one my wife and I began researching how to start an LLC. In April 2020, we started Studio Singh together. Currently, we’re a design studio that puts all my Architecture design and my wife’s art experience into creating affordable, functional, and high performance kitchen knives This has been my dream ever since I lit that forge in 2010. Ten years later, dreams really do come true.

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Nothing worth having is easy. As much as I’d like it to be simple, there are always hoops to jump through. For me, immigration was something that loomed over me from the day I started architecture school. It’s by no means a perfect system but no country’s immigration system is perfect for me, I had to make sure I was hitting every deadline required to not face any complications that could jeopardize my status. Going from an F-1 student visa to an H-1b employer-sponsored visa to a green card has been an insane journey. While I’m thankful for all the trials and tribulations that it’s given me to make me who I am today, I’d love to get back all the years I’ve lost because of all the stress! Things are a lot better now since I have permanent residency; immigration has crushed my soul, so I don’t feel pain anymore…. just kidding! With any business, making a name for yourself has been really hard. How does one compete in an environment when convenience is so addicting? I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of buying everything from corporations, then having it delivered in two days. How can anyone not love it? Then Covid-19 happens. Corporations get richer and small businesses suffer. We thought we started our business at the wrong time; restaurants were shutting down, and people were losing their jobs. We thought that we wouldn’t be able to sell anything and this entire venture was going to be a bust. Marketing is already difficult and throw in the fact that you can’t market yourself in person and things get much more challenging Our goal is to get people cooking and creating memories in the kitchen. Most of us spend a large percentage of our lives cooking for ourselves, our families or as our profession. Investing in your tools makes those experiences much more enjoyable. It’s similar to driving a 1980 Toyota to work every day and buying a luxury car that drives YOU to work every day, while you’re watching Netflix. It’s a completely different experience and one that you look forward to every day. Our knives spend 12-15 hours in our hands to eventually spending a lifetime in yours Cooking and the products we offer, are no different. Our knives will last a lifetime, which means you’re able to pass this heirloom from generation to generation. We’re very passionate with this goal. If you want a kitchen knife, go to the store and buy one for $20. If you want to invest in experiences and future memories with those you love (including yourself), then send us an email and we’d love to start a conversation about how we can turn that into a reality.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
We currently specialize in high performance kitchen knives that will last from generation to generation. One of our goals was to make our products as affordable as we can, so everyone gets access to handmade knives and not just the elite individuals. There are plenty of knife makers around the country; more so now than ten years ago, and it’s continuing to increase. Looking at the market, I can see why people would be discouraged to buy a handmade knife: some makers are charging thousands of dollars for a single knife. They can cost that much for a variety of reasons: maker reputation/demand, types of material used, amount of employees/cost of overhead etc. Most of the time, those makers making knives out of feather pattern Damascus and handles out of beautiful stabilized maple burl with brass spacer, charge a lot and it’s 100% worth it to have a work of art in your kitchen that performs as well as it’s crafted We have a standard for each of our knives in how they perform and in their aesthetics. While we don’t charge thousands for our knives, we make them as affordable as we can: Our custom knives range from $450-$700, and we offer payment plans to make sure that you get what you want, without putting you in any financial struggle. 2020 was the year of customs where all of our clients were extremely happy, and hearing from them that they spend more time cooking than they ever did is exactly what we love to hear. At the end of 2020, we started to add another branch to what we offer: We launched our new line of production kitchen knives: “The Prime Collection” These are our most affordable 8″ chef knives, offered in 2 versions: “Prime Light”, that features a bright machine finish with a black G10 handle and brass pins and “Prime Dark” that features a blackened finish with yellow G10 handle and carbon fiber pins. Both are sold at $285 each, and they’re a great way to get into the handmade knife world. We’re slated to have a handful of these on our website by March 31st We’re already working on a line of Utility/Everyday Carry knives for those looking for something to handle a wider variety of tasks We’re always looking for ways to make our products accessible to everyone. Without you, we don’t get to do what we love.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
Have patience. Nothing will happen overnight, and the market is a very, very unpredictable beast. You might do amazing work, but if no one needs what you want, they won’t buy it. Being a business owner means you provide services/products and you handle the marketing, the photography/videography, the social media accounts, the accounting and so much more It’s absolutely a rewarding experience that is a very positive as long as you clearly define a plan and be kind to yourself for any mistakes you make, because you will make mistakes One of the hardest things for us was setting our prices. There is no right answer to this since everyone’s expenses and goals are different. Set a price that’s clearly coming from a quantifiable metric so when builds get complicated, it’s a matter of plug and play and what comes out is a total price, based on your knowledge of your time and expenses Will everyone be happy with your prices? No. People will haggle to get the best deal they can. Take all criticism with a grain of salt and understand it and judge if that’s something you apply to your business or don’t celebrate the small wins and don’t get caught up with long term goals. Your small wins will propel you forward into a world of self-fulfillment and happiness like nothing ever has. You’ll learn about yourself, and you’ll realize that you’re capable of doing more than you ever thought you could and if you’ve never had anyone believe in your dreams, I’m here to tell you that I believe in you Turn your dream into your reality and start living.

Pricing:

  • Prime Collection price: $285

Contact Info:

Image Credits:
Isaac Stockton

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