Nick and I are very lucky. We work together, in a peaceful place surrounded by oak trees, countryside and animals. It’s not lonely, but it is isolated.
This has its perks; what would be a sit-down meeting in a ‘normal’ job becomes a walk in the woods, the traffic filled commute is a short walk with the call of ponies who think you just might have a carrot and there’s no nasty office coffee – the home comforts are all here. What can be missing is the peer review, the range of people to discuss ideas and experiences with and, in its simplest sense, somebody to share your product with besides your customer.
Don’t get me wrong, there is no feeling like loading up the van with a beautiful piece of crafted furniture or the components of a family’s dream staircase and heading off to their home knowing you are going to deliver something that they’ve looked forward to for a long time. But that’s different to showing your friend something that you’ve made because you’re proud of the accuracy, the technique or the overall aesthetic.
And for us, that is precisely where Instagram has fitted in. Instagram has allowed us to connect with a diverse range of people; local crafts people, makers from across the Atlantic, companies we admire, companies our customers admire, people who have achieved our goals for themselves and people who share our journey either because they’re friends or clients. Instagram has become a mentor, peer and pal in one with instant feedback on our work as well as the ability to tap into advice and experience. On many occasions we’ve asked all sorts of advice, from which paint sprayers other makers use to if they found signwriting vehicles useful. Without fail we’ve had positive responses with individuals going out of their way to be helpful. Instagram is known as the friendliest place on the internet and for us that really is true.
So, why am I wittering on about this? I wanted to share a snippet of our Instagram feed with you, our current crushes from a feed that we curate and change to suit our goals and interests.
Roderick James Architects
You are just going to love this insta perfect grid! We’ve crushed on them for years and their mixture of contemporary and traditional design is distinctive and of the highest possible quality. Beautiful oak framework and open plan spaces filled with gorgeous interiors. Nick and I will one day commission a house designed by these guys, in the meantime we just love ohhing and ahhing at their creations. Visit @roderickjamesarchitects on Instagram.
This is Nick’s absolute favourite. Their staircases are stand out, the attention to detail is absolutely incredible and although they are intricate, they never look fussy or clumsy. Not only does their feed show the final products of this high end maker but also the process, something we both always love to see. It’s a backstage pass to an amazing workshop. Visit @trappen.schotte on Instagram.
This lovely lady, Karina, was suggested to me by a good friend. I can’t get enough of the sneak peak into her life. She’s an obviously hard working, inspirational woman and her posts are light hearted and warm. She’s raised the profile of (and saved!) a brand I love. Not only am I a huge cornishware fan but I love to feel inspired and spurred on by her posts. I have watched her following explode in terms of numbers. The whole time she has made the hard work appear fun and although her account gives me a serious amount of ‘dresser envy’, she really is a bit of a hero to me. It’s inspiring to see another husband and wife team, with their own product, who are achieving so much. Visit @cornishware_artist on Instagram.
Maybe it’s my childhood obsession with a barley twist but this guys feed shows his immense skill and consistent ability, producing the finest turned timber products again and again. The videos are mesmerising and as wood turning is one of the things that we don’t do ourselves it’s great to see the how-to side of his work. Visit @richard_findley on Instagram.
Farrow and Ball
This won’t be a surprise to anybody who knows me IRL but this feed is amazing. It would have felt wrong to write this post and not mention Farrow and Ball. Not only are they a local company (Wimborne, Dorset) but recognised and celebrated for their high quality product. They have already achieved what we aspire to. Their colours have decorated both my childhood homes and the homes of my adulthood too. I’m a self labelled colour fanatic and I love to see their shared photos of other peoples households, after all what’s more interesting than nosing about the insides of someone else’s gaff? Uplifting and seasonal, this feed might not quite make Nick’s favourite as it results in a few too many redecorating requests for his liking. The front door really should be Preference Red though, shouldn’t it? Visit @farrowandball on Instagram.
“Instagram has been a fantastic platform in order for us to spread our ‘made in UK’ message”
Now I couldn’t call Instagram a staff room without a bit of a chat, so I asked @cornishware_artist and @richard_findley about their experience. Karina (@cornishware_artist) described how they use the @cornishware profile. “Instagram has been a fantastic platform in order for us to spread our ‘made in UK’ message. Our behind the pottery scenes are very popular as there is a real need out there of seeing how things are made. I regularly show how we decorate, glaze, back stamp our Cornishware. Customers would rather buy something with a lovely story connected to it and instagram has enabled us to deliver this. I have met lovely like minded insta businesses and we all help each other. There’s a great ‘can do’ vibe out there at the moment, a lot of it has been thanks to instagram.’
Karina’s own profile has an impressive following. She told me, “I remember being so excited having just 100 followers, I have now nearly 5000 and climbing fast. I just try to be myself and share my day to day job and life in Somerset and Cornwall. My husband and I work together (with the help of a few colleagues). We have managed to rescue an iconic brand from disappearing, our enthusiasm on instagram is palpable and I think that’s one of the reasons why my insta is popular. We all love a happy story.”
For me personally, being able to ‘surround’ myself with these positive, talented, can-do people is like working in an office with the cream of the crop, it’s hard to believe anything is impossible when you are surrounded by people who are living proof it’s very possible.
@richard_findley talked to me about his experience and the feeling of community online is certainly something that we share. “I realised about 2 1/2 years ago that my only online presence was my website and that I probably ought to be on some kind of social media. Looking at my options I chose Instagram as it seemed the best fit for me. Turns out I was right! I’m a bit of a wood nerd so I basically follow amazing woodworkers from around the world and love the community that exists amongst woodworkers. Instagram has made me some great contacts both from a sales point of view (I’ve had work go to Australia, America, Canada and Singapore, all because of Instagram) but also the things I’ve learned from watching amazingly talented woodworkers.”
So there you go, Instagram feels like my online office. A space to share what we’ve been up to, a window into our own workshop but also a peak into the lives of others and their work too. It feels positive, it can be motivational and it’s certainly an educational tool. Wonderfully, it also allows our customers the chance to do the same, just as we peak into the windows of others, it gives an open door for our own clients and followers to get to know our family and our work. So, welcome, come on in and we’ll have a cuppa (in a Cornishware mug, what else?).
A Carpenter’s Wife Blog
Nick and I share a passion for creativity and design. We have renovated several houses together and as I was regularly drafted in to help with his carpentry work. It was a natural step to go into business together. For many years this was an informal arrangement with me learning on my feet, including CAD, web design, tax and admin. I was itching to get involved practically so it wasn’t long before I joined Nick on-site.
We’re very lucky to enjoy our time working together. My blog is a reflection on what we are doing, what we have learnt and where we are going. It’s nice to keep a written record of our journey together and life in Dorset with two young daughters.