Furniture-maker WILLIAM THOMSON on how his love of the Kent coast gave him an idea for a new business. Interview: Alex Fisher
I have lived by the sea for most of my life. My family moved to Deal, in Kent, 18 years ago and I only left the coast to study architecture in Newcastle. However, after I qualified in 2010, I found there were few jobs to be had. I didn’t want to be an unpaid intern, but had no money to start my own business.
I returned home to my parents in Deal and as I walked along the coast I’d come to know so well, an idea came to me. Over the last few hundred years there have been many shipwrecks around the area where I grew up and, as a result, the more inaccessible parts of the coastline have an abundance of driftwood. After a couple of hours on Google, I discovered there was a market for driftwood furniture and suddenly I had a business that I could start without tools or money.
Initially, I worked outside in my parents’ garden, which has direct access to the sea. Luckily, the weather stayed fine and before long I made enough money to put a roof over my head and move into a workshop of my own. After a year, my girlfriend, Naomi, joined me and we now make bespoke furniture and garden buildings for clients around the world.
Although I no longer make furniture from driftwood, I still comb the local beaches for washed-up ‘treasures’ to inspire my designs. As a volunteer for the RNLI, I spend many hours around boats, another source of inspiration for my furniture collection.
To find out more, visit williamsworkshop.co.uk.