French, terrariums, pottery, portraiture, resin art – if there’s a skill you’re looking to learn, Classbento might be helpful. The Sydney-born online marketplace connects independent local artisans, makers, chefs, tradespeople and creatives with punters looking for a workshop or evening class to help them up-skill and expand their knowledge.
Founded in 2016 by John Tabari and Iain Wang when they were working at online fashion website the Iconic, Classbento helps people disconnect from everyday worries, learn something new and reduce their risk of burnout by keeping the mind and body active. Tabari was inspired to start Classbento after watching his grandmother struggle with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
“I thought to myself, how do I reduce the risk of dementia for myself so my daughter doesn’t have to go through what I did?” he tells Broadsheet. “How do I stay socially and mentally active?”
Tabari had also always wanted to learn the basics of woodworking and brush-lettering, but says the classes he found were always too far from his home, or required a commitment to a longer-term course. Classbento makes it easy for independent artisans and local and smaller businesses to promote their classes, as well as easier for people to find them.
He found that once he started connecting with creative businesses there was an abundance of people everywhere offering their knowledge. “I couldn’t believe there were people teaching candle-making or pottery classes just next door, or mobile cocktail makers that can bring a cocktail class to your venue.”
He and Wang took the name from the Japanese bento box (a dish that is subdivided) – they liked the idea that you could try a variety of classes, just like you can taste a bunch of different dishes in a bento box.
“We also admire the Japanese,” Tabari says. “Japanese women live the longest globally, and one key is to keep the mind active by learning new skills.”
On its site Classbento has mobile cocktail company Trolley’d, macaron merchants Mak Mak and Marrickville cafe and roaster Roastville. He wants to encourage companies to book workshops for team-building to improve employees’ wellbeing, and is always recruiting more people and businesses for the site.