quarta-feira, 23 de abril de 2008
Back to Ireland and Strangford Lough
My workshop in New Street, Edinburgh was a meagre 5 mts x 6 mts and with all the bits and pieces needed to run a furniture making & restoring business it had very little room for an assistant. I often got phone calls from young people wanting to learn a trade but it was always too worrying for me to have an inexperienced youngster near machines that can remove fingers and arms in the blink of an eye, eyes too. however I have helped several more mature students refine their skils and then move on to better things. John came to me wanting to get tuition so that he could work as a self employed furniture designer and maker, he was skilled and above all patient and tidy but extremely slow at his work. He worked with me on new furniture since the art of restoration is something that really requires time and experience. One day I decided that we needed to have a rethink about the work I was giving him and my feeling that in actual fact it was better for me to work alone, however I gave him a possible alternative which was for him to finish a blanket box that he had been working on for 6 months and take it around all the large stores in Edinburgh, he was to try and get orders for the box and any other designs that he could come up with. several days later he arrived back with an order for the shop called 'The Great American Indoors and Pine Country' the owner being the son of the late Brian Faulkner, late prime minister of Northern Ireland. Mike Faulkner is a very articulate and quietly spoken man which may well have come from his profession as a solicitor. I have no idea why he gave up the day job and decided on the risky venture of furniture making and even more risky, that of designing and making your furniture to sell direct to the public.
Still he made the move and when I first met him he was being very successful, new ranges and the added chic of hand made, kept the turn over rising and he was able to fax orders to me almost every day. The shop that he had was rented, large but with no off street parking and this I felt was a major problem if you wish to sell more you need to have a lot of people just entering and viewing without buying anything, promotion is in the person viewing the quality and not solely in the price, Mike as commented on the fact that he thought he had over priced his market but I feel that he needed to relocate, a more costly idea than the one of printing brochures.
Sadly the business of Pine Country sank and even his attempts at internet sales could not refloat the vessel. He sold his house and what ever he had tied up in the business and returned to his native Ireland, a land that is truely green and beautiful and with people that have a happy disposition.
I have written recently to Mike and his wife, since finding that he has written a book about his move back to Ireland and Strangford Lough in particular, but have not as yet received a reply. Please click on to his site because it is one gentle trip on the waters of the Lough and viewing the richness of its habitat.