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
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
“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!”