Oaklands student carves a career out of mud kitchen success

A carpentry student from Oaklands College has combined study skills with some business nouse to create his own start up woodwork enterprise over the summer break.

A carpentry student

from Oaklands College has combined study skills with some business nouse to

create his own start up woodwork enterprise over the summer break.

17-year-old Level Two

Carpentry student Harry Henderson is the bright spark behind Cottonmill Carpentry,

a woodwork business producing outdoor child-friendly woodcraft such as work

benches and mud kitchens.

In just six weeks, he’s

racked up over 35 items made, a loyal social media following, glittering

testimonials and an order sheet which sees him in high demand until Christmas.

All that, and also he’s back at college to committed to continue his level two

studies this September.

His niche is ‘mud kitchens’

– a wooden garden play kitchen where kids can play and get messily creative

outdoors. Harry saw the on trend garden additions as a great opportunity to capture

the imagination of local schools, parents and children alike.

The basic mud kitchen design

is a two tier low structure with sink bowls and optional bamboo utensils, sleek

smooth edges with a  glossy varnished

weatherproof finish. There is the opportunity to add extra design additions such

as stencils and names.

Retailing at an initial

price of £100 upwards, Harry uses his passion and craft in carpentry to produce

high quality pieces which are built for fun and built to last. Each kitchen takes

about an hour to assemble, with a series of days required to varnish in the

necessary stages.

Based from his parents’

home in Cottonmill, St Albans Harry has commandeered the shed and garage to a house

workshop and storage, and kick started his business through word of mouth and

effective use of social media. He said: “Interest grew really fast – once I

made my first few, I gave them to family friends and to my local school. After

a few enquiries and orders through the Facebook page I just ran with it to see

where it could lead. I’m amazed I’ve got this busy so quickly!”

In order to meet

demand, Harry now is looking to produce on average four kitchens a week in the

run up to Christmas, continuing to fit his booming business around his studies

at Oaklands St Albans campus. Working free time during the day and weekends, he

is able to keep up with weekly turnaround with the support of his family, with

mum Sharon, dad Alan and sister Shelli all doing their bit to keep him on


He adds: “My mum has been

great in sharing it via her friends and contacts, my sister helps with social

media and my dad helps with getting supplies every week and delivery. Over

time, the mud kitchen design has evolved – and that’s mainly from customer

feedback. In adding their own twists, they’ve given me plenty of ideas to

develop next year.”

Despite his business

success in such a short space of time, Harry remains realistic about growing

the business in tandem with his growing skillset. Plans for 2017 involve a website,

a further development in design and even some extra hands to keep orders moving

with demand.

“I do have friends from

my course last year who could help out. Although it could mean more orders and

more money, I have to be sure we keep the quality. As everything goes out under

my business and my name, I need to make sure it’s right.”

Early indications are

the work will be there when Harry completes his qualifications. In addition to

booming orders in his niche children’s outdoor play, he’s been asked to quote

on jobs to fit doors, fit offices and even work on domestic kitchens in the

local area and looks forward to what the future may hold.


the moment, I need to get all my skills from my studies so I can take all those

sort of jobs on, I haven’t got the experience yet. I started this venture

looking at ways to pay for my car insurance, it’s a huge amount of money when

you’re 17 and just passed. I never dreamed I could build a business so quickly

and it be doing so well. I can’t wait to see what the next step is next year,

but for now Its’ head down working to fulfill those festive orders!”

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