Transitioning from a career in marketing to furniture making may not seem the obvious choice, but for Richard England, his experience as a professional marketer informed and propelled the success of his company, Glencairn Furniture.
Here we speak to Richard, a graduate of our Professional Course, about how he went about establishing a brand for his bespoke furniture business and what independent furniture makers can learn from a marketing pro.
You previously worked in PR and marketing before enrolling on the Chippendale School’s Professional Course, what ultimately pushed you to retrain as a furniture maker?
A few years ago, I started to think about what I would want to do if I could do anything – what I would do if I won the lottery, if you like. The idea of running my own business has always appealed to me. But my own business doing what? I have a distant engineering background and always enjoyed DIY, so working with my hands seemed the right direction to go in.
That’s when I discovered the Chippendale International School of Furniture. After participating in the 5-day short course back in 2017 the seed was sown. In the months that followed, I became convinced that I just had to do the 9-month Professional Course.
Halfway through that course – and at the start of a global pandemic – I made the decision to set up my own bespoke furniture company. Two years on, I’m now the founder, designer, and maker of Glencairn Furniture.
How did you go about creating the brand for your business, Glencairn Furniture?
The Chippendale School’s Professional Course has a focus on marketing within its syllabus. This covers the basics and involves choosing a company name, creating a brand identity, picking a domain name for your website, and deciding on your overall look and feel.
In terms of visual identity, I wanted to create something clean and contemporary, and with a premium feel. These three elements drove my choice of company name, logo, colours, fonts, and strapline.
How has your marketing background helped in establishing Glencairn Furniture?
It has been a huge factor in my relatively successful start. Knowing how to launch a brand and attract the right customers has been central. There are people out there who are prepared to pay for high-quality bespoke furniture. The key is attracting them.
I’ve invested a lot of time in developing my website and even more time in boosting its SEO to ensure Glencairn Furniture appears high on search engines for relevant keywords, e.g., ‘bespoke furniture Edinburgh’.
In your opinion, where do furniture makers go wrong when it comes to marketing?
I feel too new to the sector to offer advice with any authority. However, it does appear that a lot of independent furniture makers struggle when it comes to marketing.
I think perhaps a lot of fellow makers put time and effort into the design and making of their furniture, but potentially not enough into the marketing of it. This is not a criticism.
Marketing nowadays – which is predominantly digital marketing – is very complex and has a series of sub-specialisms. Few independent furniture makers will have the resources to employ a marketing professional, which then means spending all day in the workshop, only to use the evenings and weekends trying to get to grips with Google Ads or SEO.
That said, I would encourage furniture makers to invest in marketing. It doesn’t have to be digital - It could be printing off and posting leaflets. There are very few businesses that could launch successfully without giving any real thought to marketing. Furniture making is no different.
What should a strong furniture brand comprise?
A strong furniture brand should present a compelling story of how it solves the problems and enhances the lives of its clients. It should not focus too much on the maker but on the customer they serve.
Some makers fall into the trap of promoting what is of interest to them or other furniture makers. A well-made joint isn’t going to excite a potential buyer but knowing that your expertise can transform their old boxroom into an effective, beautiful space most definitely will. It is a cliché, but you really must strive to put the client at the centre of everything you do.
Thanks to Richard for his contribution to this blog.
If Richard’s story has inspired you to pursue a career in furniture making, take a look at our Professional Furniture making course here.