Todd steps down as Owner and Director of Southern Cross Flutes

Todd Chaplin, Founder and Director of Southern Cross Flutes since its inception in 2011, is stepping down from the role of Owner and Director. 

“The role has grown bigger than I can do justice with the time I have available, so it feels fitting to move on, and to hand the reins on to Bruce. It was an uncertain cross-roads for a time, as I didn’t know if Bruce wanted to take on the extra responsibility of owning a business, but at the end of the day; it was a no-brainer – it’s a great business and Bruce has been the engine of creation for the last five years. I wouldn’t have wanted it to go to anyone else”.

With Southern Cross Flutes celebrating 10 years of existence, it seems timely to take a step back into the archives of what has been a fantastic achievement in creating an artisan business within a niche that did not yet exist in New Zealand.

Todd – like any Self-Owned-Business-Operator – worked long hours for little financial return for the first half of the business’s existence. The excitement lay in flexing his creative muscles, and stepping up. New challenges arose from the get-go: Can I make flutes? (yes). Can I sell flutes? (yes). Can I teach flutes? (yes). Can I host and run a Flute Camp? (yes). Can I build an awesome website? (yes). Can I create an international market for my flutes? (yes). Can I create a multi-media playing manual? (yes). Can I create a music CD of my improvs? (yes). Can my website hit #1 on Google? (yes). 

But can you keep growing the business? “No” says Todd.” That’s someone else’s job. There’s a solid foundation to either grow or slow; both are very attractive options. Personally, I want to ‘slow’, but maybe that’s not what the business wants. Our needs are different now”. 

Along the way, Todd has connected with some amazing people – players, performers, musicians, key-note speakers, healers, travellers, buskers and shamans – it has been a rich journey, made more unique with it being a musical instrument that attracts such a breadth and depth of players.

“I love the people who play Native American Style Flutes – it is a special quality of person, I hope to always be around such people.”

A sudden shift?

This may appear to be a sudden shift for Todd, but in reality, it’s been a quiet transition over a number of years.

What started out as an impassioned hobby to create Native American Flutes in New Zealand, took on a life of its own. The appetite was there. Flute Circles formed, Flute Camp Aotearoa flourished, and festivals and artisan markets became familiar with the toots and thrills of Todd on his Native American Flute. It became apparent that this hobby needed to become a savvy business. 

With the emergence of the Southern Cross Flutes website back in 2014, the creation of flutes was no longer limited to the New Zealand market. In 2015 the US market became the main patronage, followed by Europe, then New Zealand and Australia. The mode of Southern Cross Flutes moved online; and the workshop and mental-load increased exponentially.

In 2015, with the arrival of Todd and Ahly’s son Hanu, Todd needed to step back from the work as a Flute Maker (a physically demanding, and financially unpredictable job) to follow his interest in teaching. A part time job opened up at the local Steiner school round the corner, and Todd made the move, while still creating flutes, running the business, being on hand for customers, AND taking on the new responsibility of being a dad for the first time. It was a stretching year!

The business grew more, and it was obvious things had to change. Early 2016 saw Todd step into full-time teaching, and Bruce came on board to become the new full time Flute Maker. Todd carried on with the business of ‘everything else’ in his evenings. 

2018 saw another step back for Todd, with Ahly stepping in as the Office Manager and Flute Advisor. Ahly had the job of setting down processes that – up until then – had only existed in Todd’s head, and facilitating the launch of the new website you see today. Child-free time for the two, was filled with getting to grips with a new website platform, databases, spreadsheets and shared documents. The foundations for being able to hand the business over to some other person were being laid during this period.

In 2020, a global phenomena occurred (Lockdowns!) which created an unprecedented rise in interest in the Native American Style Flute. Enquires soared, sales dropped for a time, and then once the global community breathed out, we saw a huge rise in sales (it makes sense does it not; we are looking for something to fill our time, something of a hobby, something soleful, something healing, something that can connect us to others, and the Native American Flute ticks all these boxes). By this stage, the business had a robust infrastructure and processes in place, as well as being financially stable. The wheels were turning.  

And so, in February 2021, the business of Southern Cross Flutes legally changed hands. Welcome Bruce McNaught, the new Owner DIrector of Southern Cross Flutes, and farewell Todd Chaplin; Founder of Southern Cross Flutes.

Thank you Todd for your unbridled energy and commitment to the Native American Style Flute community, the selfless hours and hours you spent behind the scenes making sure this business would be sustainable. 

Southern Cross Flutes currently employs two Flute Makers (Bruce and Roger), and an Office Support person (shared between Ahly and Linley).

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1 Comment

  1. Arohanui, Todd and family, as you venture forward having made such a wonderful, unique, contribution to all people who have sought to express the very best of themselves via the NA-style flute and in doing so, bring joy and healing to themselves and others. I must confess to experiencing a great sense of pride in being a Kiwi each and every time your beautiful creations have shown up on the internet being played by some of the top players overseas. It was hearing one of your flutes being played by a friend several years back that fired my own interest in (now a passion for) the NA-style flute. Your own passion, commitment, craftsmanship and professionalism have been inspirational. To say nothing of the gentleness and warmth you extended to me when we met in more recent times. Can I say without fear of contradiction: Yours has been a sacred charge that you have carried with great distinction.


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