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Ewan Ogilvie: Meet the Chippendale School grad who carved a successful career in cabinet making

Updated: May 5, 2021

We love woodworking success stories and Ewan Ogilvie’s tale is truly inspiring. In this blog, we find out how he has carved a fruitful career in cabinet making and how he’s now supporting the careers of other graduates!

From tiny seeds…

Ewan is one of a number of successful Chippendale School graduates. He studied on the Professional course in 2013 before setting up his own business. In that time, he’s also hired three Chippendale graduates! Aged 40, Ewan swapped his briefcase for a toolbox when he left his accountancy job and moved to East Lothian with his family in pursuit of a new adventure. Within four years, his business Ogilvies of Haddington was in full swing, and today he says he’s never been busier! Here’s Ewan’s story in his own words… My company, Ogilvies of Haddington, designs and builds high quality bespoke furniture, handmade kitchens, wine cellars and café/shop cabinetry using locally sourced timber and materials.

I’ve carefully established my business since graduating from the Chippendale School. On graduation, I stayed on at the on-site incubation hub developing my craft and business while building up my client base. Within a year I took on another Chippendale graduate to help with larger commissions and then a further two as things continued to get busier. In 2018 I moved out of the hub to set up my own workshop in Haddington.

Hiring graduates from the Chippendale School was the obvious choice for building a strong team. I knew that graduates of the Professional course would have a high standard and range of skills, whilst bringing their own spin on woodworking. The Fine Furniture Guild represents a hotbed of talent and is a great way to connect makers to potential customers.

Now in 2021 we employ five cabinet makers and a designer including recent graduates as well as those with many years of cabinet making experience. I still carry out most of the design work and project management but as the business has grown I rely more and more on our cabinet makers to lead on the construction and installation of our commissions as well as the day to day operations of the workshop.

To mighty oaks…

The surge in demand for bespoke cabinetry over the past year has been astounding! Many homeowners are seeking to improve their homes, adding in additional storage space and tapping into trends like kitchen islands and bespoke studies, to be enjoyed today but to also add value when the time comes to sell up and make their next home move.

With changes to how and where we work set to continue, I can see this pattern continuing which is great news for skilled furniture and cabinet makers.

I also think consumers today are a lot more discerning and appreciate bespoke, high-quality woodwork sourced from local makers rather than imported from mass producers on the other side of the world. It gives you something unique that can be held on to for years and passed down through generations.

It has been a brilliant experience since switching careers to study at Chippendale School through to developing a business in my own name! The ongoing support from the School and through the Fine Furniture Guild network has been great and I feel like I’m part of an extraordinary community.

Woodworking is a fantastic way to make a living and I wouldn’t change it for the world. When you graduate, do bear in mind that establishing yourself in the market takes time and hard work, but with dedication and a lot of passion you can get there.

A big thank you to Ewan Ogilvie of Ogilvies of Haddington for his contribution to this blog.

If you would like to learn the skills to start a business or work for a company like Ogilvies of Haddington, see more information on our Professional course at The Chippendale International School of Furniture here.

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