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From a TikTok roof thatcher to a hipster blacksmith… meet the influencers working the world’s oldest trades and the VERY strange requests they get from their followers


When choosing a career, young people looking for a trade tend to go for the more obvious options – electricians, builders and carpenters.

But what about a roof thatcher, blacksmith, horse farrier, stone mason or basket weaver? Probably not. 

However, social media is making traditional trades cool again with skills that were destined to disappear getting a new lease of life.

Mundane tasks like taking off a horseshoe or cutting straw are drawing in crowds of people who find the process ‘satisfying’ and ‘relaxing’ to watch and listen to.

MailOnline spoke to the tradspeople followed by millions on TikTok and Instagram and the bizarre quirks of their jobs that people can’t get enough of.

Sam Dracott is amongst those shining a light on unusual jobs, by sharing snippets of his day to day work as a farrier online

Sam Dracott is amongst those shining a light on unusual jobs, by sharing snippets of his day to day work as a farrier online

Sam Dracott, 33, from Surrey, is amongst those shining a light on unusual jobs, by sharing snippets of his day to day work as a farrier online and becoming a viral success in the process.

Despite his trade being considered a lost art by some, Sam has reached almost 60 million likes and has the most-viewed videos of 2022 under his belt, building a whole new following who are interested in the craft.

The farrier’s videos have been dubbed  ‘so satisfying to watch’ by fans, who are engrossed by the cleaning process and it’s ‘ASMR’ sounds, claiming they ‘never skip’ his TikToks. 

Sam told MailOnline: ‘I was pretty blown away with how quickly it took off. I always get messages from customers and clients who want to understand what we do and what actually goes on from our perspective, so I decided to make the account.

‘I’ve been riding the wave ever since, trying to educate people on the basics. I want to get people interested in horses. It’s unbelievable how much people love watching the videos.

‘The gap between horses and the general public who are not involved has got  bigger, so people don’t really understand anything about horses. For them it’s the unknown and it’s quite satisfying to watch’.

Sam says that TikTok has ‘broadened the horizons’ of what people consider when looking to learn a trade.

He explains: ‘Young people are asked, ‘what do you want to do for a living?’ and all they can think of is the mainstream jobs – trades like being a plumber, but as soon as you get something quite unusual, people don’t think about it.

‘So when it comes up on social media, people think it’s something quite different and they want to give it a go. 

‘It’s not the easiest job in the world. It’s very physical, even just generally taking the weight of the horses legs when they’re resting on you, to making the shoes, to long hours. It’s quite a hard job but it’s very rewarding.

The farrier's videos have also been dubbed as 'so satisfying to watch' by fans, who are engrossed by the cleaning process and it's 'ASMR' sounds

One user commented: 'It¿s so oddly satisfying to hear and see the work you do!' with another adding: 'I never speed through these!'

The farrier’s videos have also been dubbed as ‘so satisfying to watch’ by fans, who are engrossed by the cleaning process and it’s ‘ASMR’ sounds

With almost 60 million likes and one of the most-viewed videos of 2023 under his belt, he's built a whole new following who are interested in the craft

With almost 60 million likes and one of the most-viewed videos of 2023 under his belt, he’s built a whole new following who are interested in the craft

He said: 'I want to get people interested in horses. It's unbelievable how much people love watching the videos'

He said: ‘I want to get people interested in horses. It’s unbelievable how much people love watching the videos’

‘It’s not for everyone. You’ve got to love to do it but I definitely think it’s worth it for people to give it a go and not get put off – it’s very mentally stimulating’.

To become qualified the horse pro had to undertake a four and a half year college course and learn everything about the animals ‘from top to bottom’:

‘Arteries, veins, how the bones grow and form, any deformities and how to shoe the horse to prolong their working life.

‘It’s like remedial trainers for yourself, you’re making custom shoes for horses. 

‘You have to learn everything from scratch – how to make the shoes, the different types of shoes, the different disciplines from show jumping to dressage, race horses, western horses, they’re all slightly differently shod.

When it comes to income, the farrier admits that it ‘depends on how hard you want to work’.

Sam’s extensive clientele includes Grand Prix riders and affluent polo teams that traverse the globe.

He explains: ‘You could do an average days work or you can go at it early in the morning until late at night. If you do more horses, you earn more money so it all depends on how much time you want to put into it. 

‘In the summer season you can be at the first yard at 6am and you could finish at 10pm sometimes. It’s quite full on but so rewarding’.

Like any influencer, he also receives his fair share of negative comments, with at least one person on almost every video questioning whether it hurts the horse.

He reassures: ‘It doesn’t hurt the horse – I’m there for that animal’s welfare and that’s my biggest message. 

‘People who don’t have horses see the videos and instantly say ‘God, that must hurt,’ but no, this is a proper governed profession that’s been going on for hundreds of years’.

Shane Stevens, better known to his millions of social media fans as ‘The Thatching Guy,’ has popped up as another unlikely social media star.

Shane Stevens, a 32-year-old roof thatcher from West Sussex, has amassed more than 13 million likes and almost 730,000 followers on TikTok

Shane Stevens, a 32-year-old roof thatcher from West Sussex, has amassed more than 13 million likes and almost 730,000 followers on TikTok

The 32-year-old roof thatcher from West Sussex has amassed more than 13 million likes and almost 730,000 followers on TikTok.

Showcasing life on the job, his videos see him hard at work and surrounded by straw, filming the process and answering the many questions his viewers have.

He told MailOnline that he ‘always wanted to do an old fashioned trade’ and started out as a scaffolder when he was younger. 

Looking for a change, Shane opted to become an apprentice to a roof thatcher and twelve years later he’s still loving it – but has now worked his way up to becoming a master thatcher and is inspiring others 

Shane said: ‘A lot of people think it’s a a dying trade, but I honestly think it’s far from it. Every year there are more youngsters coming into the trade, so it’s far from a dying art. 

‘A lot of roofs are listed to they have to be redone in thatch, so I actually think it’s a relatively thriving trade. 

‘There’s not loads of us about, but from the amount of roofs and the amount of thatchers there are, it’s all relative’.

He revealed that since he’s been on TikTok, at least 50 youngsters have messaged him asking for jobs and asking how can they start. 

Shane said: 'A lot of people think it's a a dying trade, but I honestly think it's far from it. Every year there are more youngsters coming into the trade, so it's far from a dying art'

Shane said: ‘A lot of people think it’s a a dying trade, but I honestly think it’s far from it. Every year there are more youngsters coming into the trade, so it’s far from a dying art’

Looking for a change, Shane opted to become an apprentice to a roof thatcher and twelve years later he's still loving it - but has now worked his way up to becoming a master thatcher and is inspiring others

He told MailOnline that he 'always wanted to do an old fashioned trade' and started out as a scaffolder when he was younger

Looking for a change, Shane opted to become an apprentice to a roof thatcher and twelve years later he’s still loving it – but has now worked his way up to becoming a master thatcher and is inspiring others

He explained: ‘The apprenticeship is around five years, but I’ve done it through learning on the job. 

‘I was with a thatcher and he taught me the basics. Then you pick up little techniques yourself. 

‘When you get to about 10 years, you can  apply for your master and people come out to examine your work and see how you do, before accepting you into the society.

Adding: ‘Days in the winter get pretty wet – we’re up at heights all the time, up and down ladders, making it quite a physical job.

‘The materials themselves are quite light because we use stuff like straw and waterweed but it is quite demanding work. You work with heights so you’ve got to be good with that.

‘The most challenging part is getting it all level, the same thickness of the roof. It’s all natural materials, and it all it has to be sort of around 14 inches thick. The reed has to be tightly squeezed together to make sure no rain can get in and drive itself up’.

The 32-year-old had no idea so many people would be interested in his videos about the trade.

Shane hopes it will 'influence more youngsters to come along, try the process and gradually take over' as a lot of roof thatchers are typically older

Shane hopes it will ‘influence more youngsters to come along, try the process and gradually take over’ as a lot of roof thatchers are typically older

He revealed that since he's been on TikTok, at least 50 youngsters have messaged him asking for jobs and asking how can they start

He revealed that since he’s been on TikTok, at least 50 youngsters have messaged him asking for jobs and asking how can they start

He recalled: ‘The idea actually came from my brother. He mentioned that he got an interest in his trade after putting it across platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

‘So I did and I didn’t expect anything from it but it blew up within couple of weeks. I carried it on and it became a way to get the process of what my job is across to other people.

‘Hopefully it’s influencing other people to take it up and to give it a go. The first video I put up reached a million views and it just was like, ‘where’s this come from?’

‘I didn’t think that a lot of people would be interested in it. I think a lot of people find it satisfying for the sounds of it like cutting straw, which was definitely strange to me, like me, because for me it’s day to day – it’s normal.

‘A lot of people don’t get to see the process, even people who live in thatched houses. It’s not an everyday trade people see so it’s nice for them to see it online.

‘Part of the reason why I’m doing it is to get the get the facts out there into the world so people realise that it is a job, it’s an interesting job.

Shane hopes social will ‘influence more youngsters to come along, try the process and gradually take over’ as a lot of roof thatchers are typically older.

Other tradies taking social media by storm include lumberjack Nicole Coenen, who’s amassed more than 2.1 million followers on TikTok and basket weaver Alex Rooted, who’s content is seen by more than 163,000.

While they work very different traditional trades, each of them pulls in a loyal viewership who can’t get enough of their work.

But it’s not all about social media – Anna Buckley, 50, owner of Yorkshire stone masonry business, Mindful Memorials, and Master Stonemason, Paul Sandilands, 56, are also passionate about keeping traditional trades and craftmanship alive.

Other tradies taking social media by storm include lumberjack Nicole Coenen, who's amassed more than 2.1 million followers on TikTok and basket weaever Alex Rooted, who's content is seen by more than 163,000

While they work very different traditional trades, each of them pulls in a loyal viewership who can't get enough of their work

Other tradies taking social media by storm include lumberjack Nicole Coenen (LEFT), who’s amassed more than 2.1 million followers on TikTok and basket weaver Alex Rooted (RIGHT), who’s content is seen by more than 163,000

Anna Buckley,(RIGHT) 50, owner of Yorkshire stone masonry business, Mindful Memorials, and Master Stonemason, Paul Sandilands (LEFT), 56, are also passionate about keeping traditional trades and craftmanship alive

Anna Buckley,(RIGHT) 50, owner of Yorkshire stone masonry business, Mindful Memorials, and Master Stonemason, Paul Sandilands (LEFT), 56, are also passionate about keeping traditional trades and craftmanship alive

The business has since been passed down four generations with no plans of that changing

The business has since been passed down four generations with no plans of that changing

Anna said: ‘My great grandfather was what’s known as a jobbing mason, so he went around the cathedrals and churches doing traditional masonry, but then trained my grandfather who then went into monumental masonry’.

The business has since been passed down four generations with no plans of that changing – Anna and her husband run it together, with their son and nephew recently getting involved.

Paul has been with the organisation for more than 40 years, having joined when he was just 15 years old and being trained by Anna’s great grandfather. 

Talking about the job, Anna reveals: ‘There’s more fine carving than there is in traditional masonry, we use a lot of symbology. 

‘Things like Yorkshire roses, flower details, fine carving and letter cutting by hand, which is now definitely a bit of a dying trade.

‘So we’re really keen to promote those skills and to to keep the traditional skills alive. We want to create something really beautiful for people using more traditional stone carving techniques. 

‘Most people just buy already shaped granite which comes in, some from India, some from China. But we’re one of the few companies that still have the skill in house to be able to shake shape material ourselves’. 

Master Stonemason, Paul, adds: ‘I would say to young people, you need to have the dedication and passion, they’re the two most important things.

Master Stonemason, Paul Sandilands, adds: 'I would say to young people, you need to have the dedication and passion, they're the two most important things'

Master Stonemason, Paul Sandilands, adds: ‘I would say to young people, you need to have the dedication and passion, they’re the two most important things’

‘With things like letter cutting, it’s not going to perfect the first time or the second or even the tenth time, but if you keep going it will come to you’.

Anna chimes in with: ‘Something that isn’t always easy for children nowadays is the ability to know that it’s okay to fail. It’s part of the process, you’ve got to be willing to get it wrong and not let that drag you down too much.

‘It’s not the easiest of areas to work in, but it’s very rewarding and a chance to have quite a deep connection with the clients. 

‘You’re there at a time where they really need the job to be done well and they need somebody to care – that’s where it becomes more than just a job’.

She continues: ‘We’ve tried to get apprentices in over the years, and it’s been a challenge because younger people just don’t think about it.

‘We are really passionate about this being a very fulfilling job for for anyone. You get to use your artistic ability and your creative ability and you also have the added benefit of doing something really purposeful. 

‘It matters, it makes a difference to people. We only see it as a really good thing that people are making it trendy’.

And it’s not just the UK that’s seeing a surge in TikTok tradies – blacksmith Nate Weiss, 28, from Pennsylvania, spends his time making work that he’s ‘inspired by,’ specialising in tools and hardware – and sharing the process on with his 247,000 followers.

Blacksmith Nate Weiss, 28, from Pennsylvania, spends his time making work that he's 'inspired by,' specialisising in tools and hardware - and sharing the process on with his 247,000 followers on TikTok

With an account amassing more than three million likes, he posts an inside look of everything from tool making and forging to blacksmith starter tips for those interested in the career

Blacksmith Nate Weiss, 28, from Pennsylvania, spends his time making work that he’s ‘inspired by,’ specialisising in tools and hardware – and sharing the process on with his 247,000 followers on TikTok

With an account amassing more than three million likes, he posts an inside look of everything from tool making and forging to blacksmith starter tips for those interested in the career.

He also teaches the craft in his spare time, with his clientele ranging from ‘teenagers at high school age to people in their sixties and seventies’ – revealing that the trade is ‘more popular than he’s ever seen it’.

The 28-year-old got into the craft as a teenager himself and has become a master at it over the last 10 years.

He told MailOnline: ‘I was around 16 or 17 and I wasn’t doing terribly well in school, so I started to explore alternative avenues for my career path.

‘My parents allowed me to get a get my own forge set up and I took a weekend workshop just to get some basic skills. Then from there, I just started making stuff. 

‘I was really interested in survival skills and bush craft and things like that so it was a bit of a crossover between those two interests. 

‘After I graduated from high school, I went to craft school, so I was able to select an education that was really based on my interest – specifically in metalworking’.

The blacksmith added: ‘When I started, it was still a bit on the fringe but I think now the barrier to entry has become a lot lower. You can buy the equipment to get started more easily than ever before, which is great, so it’s very accessible right now.

The 28-year-old got into the craft as a teenager himself and has become a master at it over the last 10 years

The 28-year-old got into the craft as a teenager himself and has become a master at it over the last 10 years

He admits that being self-employed is ‘a challenge’ because he doesn’t have an education in business, and because so many more poeple are becoming interested in the trade, there is ‘a lot of saturation in the market’ right now.

‘But, for the specific kind of metal work that I do, I don’t think there’s a whole lot of representation of on TikTok,’ he adds.

‘More often than not it’s swords or blade work and that’s most of what I was seeing on the internet. 

‘I wanted to show, and that there’s this whole other offshoot of the craft that most people don’t even know about. 

‘I hope that what I’m putting out online gets people excited and inspired and isn’t necessarily what what their preconceived notion of it was –  that’s that’s my hope, at least’.

Nate concluded: ‘As people in 2024, I think we’re starved to get our hands on things.  It’s a critical part of the human experience. 

‘So my main message is that I think it’s really important for people to have hands on work, no matter what it is’.





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