The Forge impact – RichCraft Furniture

As the second edition of Forge is about to start, we sat down with RichCraft Furniture to hear his thoughts about the programme and whether it has helped him shape a better vision for the future of his business. 

I participated in the first edition of Forge by Creative United in May and found the whole programme extremely valuable.

Creating my business at the beginning of 2018 after a career within the Arts, I felt I had a reasonable grounding in how to get going however I felt I lacked insight into start-ups. My first year in business, I was focusing on developing my product range and improving my skills, as having not made furniture for a while my skills were a little rusty. Blackhorse Workshop, where I am based, was promoting FORGE to its members and it caught my eye. I felt the criteria was not as niche as other similar programmes and the commitment was about what I was looking for given the time I had. I applied, as I thought it was a good opportunity to learn some new skills and understand start-up businesses more.

After meeting with the Creative United team, I signed up to the programme’s 6 workshops, along with the networking events. I found the workshops very interesting. It was great meeting other people in a similar position or with more established businesses. I always wondered, whilst running a furniture-making business, what made me unique. Being a designer/maker isn’t always enough! Paul, the tutor for the sessions, was great help in challenging this idea and helping me define where I add value. This was the focus of the first few workshops which form the pillars for the rest, so it was really helpful in giving me clarity.

Subsequent workshops touched on finance, and knowing the basic language to help work with accountants in the future. Plus there were others on sales and marketing plans. Six workshops can’t provide you with a lifetime of knowledge but within all the sessions there were golden nuggets of information which sound obvious, but when you’re working on your business aren’t always easy to see. 

I believe one of the key messages I will take away from the programme was ‘focus’ and ‘difference’. Mainly because you have to focus on what you do and be different in how you do it!

Since completing the workshops I have understood where I can position myself within the market and where I add value. Networking and speaking with others who are at a similar stage shouldn’t be undervalued either as everyone faces similar challenges setting up their business so it’s useful to hear how others are getting on. Overall, I was grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Forge Business Support programme and would encourage you to apply if you are thinking about it. You’ll get more out of it than you think!

Find out more about RichCraft Furniture

If you think Forge is the right business support programme for you and you are interested in applying for one of the next editions, please get in touch with Forge Project Manager Carla Pianese – or sign up for our Forge newsletter here