Mike Whittall, who graduated in 2016, owns and runs Ochre & Wood in Aberdeenshire.
He was fortunate to ‘hit the ground running’ with a good commission from an ex-colleague, and advises new woodworkers not to underestimate their existing network of friends, relations or former colleagues.
That summer, he chose to stay on in the school’s incubation space to have access to workshop facilities and support. This enabled him to deliver the piece quickly, while being a valuable part of transitioning into the world of work.
In the autumn, he set up his own workshop at home and made a plan to design and make new furniture, take on restoration work and run woodworking courses.
“The idea was to create three complementary income streams which could fit round each other and show customers a variety of activity. For a creative, this might all sound a bit too much like business speak but, ultimately, a business was what I needed as well as being an outlet for my creative ideas,” says Mike.
“Just under three years on, the plan is starting to show growth. The commissions are beginning to come, restoration projects are now fairly regular and I have developed a series of weekend courses.
“I won’t pretend it’s been a walk in the park, but that’s the reality for any business start-up.
“To extend an oft-used phrase, this whole thing has been a real journey, both frustrating and rewarding and I wouldn’t change a single thing!” says Mike.