Professional Builder visits Harry Henderson, a young carpentry apprentice already plying his trade to make some extra cash.
The hardest part about going to college to study a trade is undoubtedly finding an apprenticeship to gain some vital on-site experience. Your tutors will do all they can to help you but unfortunately many last the duration of their course without ever gaining useful site experience.
We spoke to one level 2 carpentry student, Harry Henderson from Oaklands College, St. Albans, about how he’s making his own work experience building ‘mud kitchens’ for children. We caught up with Harry in his back garden shed-cum-workshop where he was busy at work.
Do you ever follow your customers up after and see how they’re getting on with their new kitchen?
Yeah, I’ve sent a few to local schools and they have all sent me pictures of the kitchens being used. It’s great to see the children so happy with them to be honest. It’s also great to see the kitchens are still intact, even the very first one I made is still intact, which is good. I get worried that when I go and see them again there’ll be discoloration or warping, but they’ve all been in good condition so far.
How many have you sold so far?
Sales are probably hitting about 100 now. I started a year ago, in April. I just relied on word of mouth at first. In fact it wasn’t until August that I got Facebook and started promoting the kitchens through that. It really took off after that.
Have you made a lot of money?
I started doing this simply to pay for car insurance. I charge about £100 for the kitchen, which I think is quite reasonable, and the costs for wood etc. are around £30-40, so I make a fair amount of profit on each one. I divvy up the profit and put aside an amount for next year’s car insurance, some for the materials pot, some I spend on myself and if I manage to save up enough I go and buy some more tools. It’s great having the money but it’s also the happiness it brings to people that makes this such a worthwhile job.
How far away have you received orders from?
I’ve had people from India and the USA ask for kitchens. It’s not convenient obviously but I would like to be able to send them one, they can take a picture and post it on my Facebook page. I am trying to come up with a flat-pack design to be able to send them and not have to charge them too much in delivery.
Do you have any help?
My dad’s been there with me from the start. He’s not a builder but he is handy on the tools. In fact, on the weekends when he’s around he actually takes over sometimes because he’s quicker than me. We’re quite pressed for time usually because I get so many orders!
Sounds like your family are all behind you.
My mum is a bit like my sales rep – she tells everyone she meets about my kitchens. She even hands out cards and things like that. My sister designs websites and has guided me with the Facebook page and the marketing.
Sometimes we have to keep the kitchens and benches in the front room because it’s too cold outside for the oil to dry. Mum hates that, because it stinks out the whole house. I had loads in there over Christmas because it was so cold and the orders shot up practically overnight.
For more information on Harry and his kitchens visit www.facebook.com/CottonmillCarpentry