Shaun Mulrain has followed his passion for music, constantly learning how to build better guitars by hand.
The Brantford man started his own guitar-making shop, Mulrain Guitars, a business that is a far cry from his 17 years spent servicing heating and air conditioning equipment.
Shaun’s passion for music and his business is contagious, as is his belief that people should keep learning as they move through life.
“If you love what you do or have a passion for something, study it,” he says. “If it lights a fire under you, go learn as much as you can and share it.”
Shaun, 40, has been selected as a 2018 Education Champion by the Education WORKS Alliance, after being nominated by the Community Employment Service of Brantford.
Shaun has always had a love of music. He’s been playing guitar since age 11, then started performing & teaching others. He later attended Toronto’s Humber College for Jazz Vocal Performance.
But he ended up graduating from George Brown College with a Diploma as an HVAC Tech. He worked as a refrigeration journeyman & gas fitter. Later he transitioned into HVAC Sales.
Shaun faced a major change in 2014 when he was laid off from his job. After a lot of soul searching and discussions with his family, Shaun decided it was the right time to go in a different direction, to turn his love of music into a career and a business.
Because of the layoff, he was eligible for the Ontario Self Employment Benefit, a provincial government program that no longer exists. The program provided financial support so that Shaun could become his own boss.
He received help from Community Employment Service and Enterprise Brant, which assists people starting their own businesses.
For Shaun, business means helping others through music. After years of performing, teaching music lessons & repairing guitars, Mulrain Guitars was born.
Besides being grateful to those organizations, Shaun also credits the support of his wife Aly, his grandfather, family, friends and his community, including fellow members in the Rotary Club.
“Aly helped me build my confidence to change paths, follow my heart, and keep focused on the daily execution of the little things that matter. She builds me up when I get discouraged.”
Shaun has devoted himself to learn everything he can about running a business and building guitars: reading, watching online tutorials, and picking the brains of teachers and other guitar makers. Recently, Shaun enrolled in a Mohawk College course on electric guitar building, soaking up more knowledge and skills.
“I am constantly learning and studying my craft,” he says. “I love learning. By learning new techniques and tricks you can increase production and the quality of your product.”
Shaun’s advice to others is to invest in themselves by learning, and not to let obstacles get in the way: “I don’t really believe in obstacles in learning. The answer is out there. Go find it! If there is something you want to learn, go learn it!”
Story by Mark Skeffington, Education WORKS Alliance