Posted on November 14 2014
For today’s new column we are focusing on the business Salvation Furniture . Launched a year ago and located in deepest, darkest Suffolk Richard and Andrew reclaim and remake characterful timber into cool dining tables and benches. I whizzed a few questions over to the boys that dig a little deeper into their business to help and inspire all of us go go follow our dreams!
Why did you decide to create Salvation Furniture?
We both worked in communications and publishing for many years, but wanted to do something different that combined all our shared passions. We’re both avid auction addicts, and Richard used to run vintage markets in Suffolk. We’d also been making reclaimed furniture for our own and family and friends’ homes for some time.
One particularly convivial evening in the pub we talked about bringing all these factors together in a business, making the kind of furniture we’d like in our own homes. We love the time-worn and characterful look of reclaimed wood, and knew that combining it with the modern edge of sleek steel frames would work well in a range of interiors. We also wanted an artisan-style approach, offering something really bespoke and flexible so customers could choose the size of furniture they wanted and colour for the steel (after all, we couldn’t compete with the flat-pack production lines of bigger brands). Salvation Furniture was born.
What went into launching your business?
Huge amounts of work, chat, planning, experimenting and rummaging about in reclamation yards! We eventually got some prototype pieces together, tweaked them again and again until we were happy, then stalled out at a local market and launched our website – www.salvationfurniture.com. We had an immediate positive response, along with commissions to make pieces.
What is a typical day like?
Like anyone running a small business, a typical day means hairing about at any and all hours. We have a workshop in a former pig unit (oh, the glamour) not far from the Suffolk coast and when we’re there it’s about selecting wood for orders, sawing to length, joining, sanding, more sanding (even more sanding) and finishing. That’s the practical side of it. But it’s also wearing every one of the diverse hats that larger business have separate departments to undertake: from designing and making products, dealing with any suppliers, keeping an eye on the accounts, arranging shipping with couriers and getting to grips with reams of bubble wrap for packaging. Then there’s the marketing side of things, ranging from designing and building an e-commerce website, to finding time for some Facebook updates and tweets amongst it all. Every day can be a blur, but there’s nothing like being your own boss!
Do you actively market or advertise your products and blog to get more followers
We’re building up the cash in the coffers to budget for advertising (it’s so expensive!), and it’s something we’re very keen to do, but in the right places for our brand. We’re busy on the social media side of things, which has really helped us get some attention, and try to update our blog when time allows.
What skills and lessons have you learnt along the way?
Don’t prevaricate; get on with things. Stay on top of the less exciting aspects of the business, like paperwork (there’s no escaping it…). Keep pushing and try to keep a clear idea of where you want your business to go. Be cheeky – if you don’t ask you won’t get. For example, we tweeted Sarah Beeny, saying “Hi Saz…” and asked her to retweet a picture of our reclaimed French oak table – she did! Love her! Most importantly, always make time for a cuppa.
Any major obstacles or hurdles faced?
Having enough time is one hurdle that keeps cropping up. You can be so busy keeping up with orders that you don’t have time to develop new products (again, it’s the wearing of many hats). We really want to expand our range, so keep waiting for a lull when we can turn others ideas in the pipeline into reality.
Any advice you would give to others thinking of setting out?
Keep plugging away – it’s a marathon; not a sprint (More Mo Farah than Usain Bolt). Stay restless, always looking out for new opportunities. Create a business identity/brand that you’re happy to shout about. Make mistakes and learn from them. Eat your greens.
Thanks guys and I wish you every success with your business. x