We had the good fortune of connecting with Prabhs Matharoo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Prabhs, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
My family is originally from India and moved to Muscat, Oman close to 40 years ago and a few years after their moving, I was born. I had a very fortunate upbringing, with parents who worked very hard to provide a great life for us; I learned the beginnings of my work ethic from them. The biggest change that’s had the most impactful change has been immigrating to the US I came to Tucson, to study Architecture at the University of Arizona, when I was 17 and while I had family in the country, they weren’t living with me. The closest family I had was a flight away and that’s when my independence started to form, knowing that the only person that could give immediate help, was me. I won’t lie: it was terrifying. I wasn’t even 18, living in a completely new continent and going from a strong support system to only having a virtual one. Through the years, going to school, learning more about myself, making mistakes and learning lessons I grew in ways I never through I would Going through the immigration process has given me a lot of perspective on life. It’s taken me 11 years to get my permanent residency through countless immigration law reform, mountains of paperwork, interviews and several scares. A lot of my problems, didn’t seem like problems when a law could be written or changed that would require other people and myself, who want nothing more than to set roots in the US, to leave with 90 days notice, at most Thankfully, I can put immigration in the past and I can move forward, with my wife and business partner, with a work ethic, life perspective and gratitude to finally begin living, instead of surviving
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
At Studio Singh, we design and make high quality and affordable kitchen knives and we’re going to be releasing our “Utility” collection for those looking for an everday carry. Recently we announced our “Prime Collection” which is our entry level kitchen knife for those looking for a high performance tool at a much lower price point. We really believe that handmade products perform better than anything a machine makes and that’s our goal when making knives for our clients. Many of the store bought knives are churned out of a machine in large quantities, every single day and they’re made as cheaply as they can. They all share the same attributes: low grade stainless steel, cheap handle material and no thought about balance or ergonomics. We make all of our knives using high carbon steel. They require a little more maintenance than stainless steel and that only means the knife has to be wiped down after every use or hand-washed and dried immediately. It’s an extra 60 seconds for something that has a superior edge, much easier to sharpen and will last longer than anything you buy at the store We use high quality materials and every custom knife spends anywhere between 12-15 hours in my hands and I use everything I learned in Architecture school to help in the design and making. We make sure each knife will be a joy to use because we spend so much of our lives in the kitchen. Everyone has to eat; if you don’t need to then you should check yourself because you might not be alive. The tools you use, absolutely make an impact on how much you enjoy the task at hand. It’s similar to driving a 98 Toyota Corolla to work everyday versus a luxury vehicle that serves you a steak dinner while it drives you everywhere you want to go One of the biggest hurdles is everyone thinks that if you’re good at something, you can turn it into a business. At least for us, that’s been difficult. Once we formed our LLC now we’ve had to teach ourselves accounting, marketing strategies, effective materials acquisition, photography and videography and a myriad of other skills. We’ve learned and grown a lot since we started and we have a long way to go and we’re loving every step Our more difficult task was establishing a pricing structure. Custom kitchen knives is a market where people can pay up to a few thousand for a really nice handmade knife. I’ve seen a lot of new makers charging much less than they’re worth and others charge much more than they’re worth. It’s never an easy decision to make and at the end of the day you have to be confident and realistic in what you charge. Our custom knives fall in the $460-$700 range (with a payment plan) and it all depends on your budget and complexity of what you’re looking for. We’d love to charge $5000+ for knives but that’s not our mission. We don’t believe that custom kitchen knives should be reserved only for the elite; cooking is fun, preparing food for those you love (including yourself) is fun and you should be able to have access to a knife that can do that without having to take out a mortgage We have conversations with all of our potential clients because you’re a human being to us, not a paycheck. The more we learn about you, the better we can make a knife for you. Our clients, eventually become our friends and they’ve told us they look forward to cooking every night because they’ve invested in beautiful tools and that’s what we’re all about. Recently I had the opportunity to watch my mother-in-law teaching her granddaughter how to cook. One skill she was teaching her was how to effectively and safely chop tomatoes and this was our vision for Studio Singh, coming to life: bringing people back into the kitchen and creating memories This is what Studio Singh is all about. Our knives aren’t objects that cut food, they’re tools that will last a lifetime and something you’ll be able to pass from generation to generation.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Most of our friends that visit us are all from the Northern part of the country so we make sure they get to taste real Mexican food and not Taco Bell. Our first stop has to be Anita’s Street Market for their green chile burrito’s. I remember having that for the first time and through that if I died, I’d be okay with it. I’ve never eaten a burrito with that much flavor and love. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Secondly, we’d take them hiking and experience the desert landscape. We had friends from Virginia come down for our wedding and they loved every second of being able to see cacti in real life and take at least a few hundred photos every chance they could. After this, we’d take them up Mt. Lemmon and have them experience a completely different landscape. Then we’d end the day with any form of cuisine that they’ve wanted to try since Tucson seems to have it all!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are a lot of people to name. My wife, first and foremost, deserves the world’s recognition because she has the unfortunate pleasure to deal with me everyday and that alone says that she’s a wonderful soul. She’s also my business partner and keeps me grounded in our heavily ambitious dreams for Studio Singh. We have as much success because she has the ability to read between the lines and understand people and their needs in a way that I’m just starting to see Secondly, my family for working hard to providing the life that I had growing up and helping me through college. They’ve sacrificed a lot and I’m grateful for that. Through this, I’ve met so many amazing people and so many, not so amazing people and that’s great. I met my best friend, Aaron while going through the hell that is Architecture school and he’s been there for when life was great and he was there when I lost my passport on our flight to Italy for a study abroad program and I was interrogated by some very intimidating Italian men. Honestly at this point, he’s not a friend anymore; he’s my brother. I have to mention every employer who has taken a chance on my in helping with the immigration process. The first being, Darci and Dale from HA|RU Studio’s who were the first people to hire me right after graduation, when I had to get a job ASAP, otherwise I was required to leave the country. The next being Lori Carroll, who helped in every way she could to sponsor my H-1B visa. It’s an expensive process, with no guarantee of success, and she still believed in me enough to help. Lastly, everyone who has taught me and helped this business venture: Don Nguyen, from whom I learned most of my knife making skills, Todd Rothrock who supports me in every way he can, Isaac Stockton who’s amazing photography skills have been nothing short of incredible and Jesus Gutierrez who answers all of my tax needs, because taxes are hard.