A welcome addition to our family of gift makers on oodlique. Meet the people behind the fabulous brand Avie and Oak. Creators of beautiful bespoke personalised oak furniture and gifts.
Avie & Oak is a bespoke furniture and gift company run by husband and wife Natalie and Joe, along with a little help from their 3 year old daughter, 9 month old son, and their mischievous border terrier Pippin.
Natalie and Joe first met when they were at Art College and both have a love for design and crafts. Joe has worked as a furniture maker for a number of years and has produced work for people all over the UK. And at present makes and carves all of their beautiful gifts and furniture himself. Natalie is the driving force behind the business and makes sure everything runs smoothly, that people get to hear about their lovely gifts, and cracks the whip when Joe’s lunch break seems to be going on too long!
In 2014 Natalie and Joe decided they wanted to start up a business together selling beautifully handcrafted gifts and furniture that would be unique to each customer and give that real personal touch to people’s homes. So after months of planning, hard work, and a lot of tea and coffee Avie & Oak was born in 2015. Natalie and Joe pride themselves on the highest quality of workmanship along with great functional and beautiful design. All of their products are made from the finest European oak, and each and every one of their products that leave their workshop has the same care, time, and love put in to them.
Why and when did you decide to start your business?
We decided to start up Avie & Oak in 2014 and later launched the business in 2015. I had already set up a business making bespoke furniture a couple of years previous to this after having been made redundant. I initially started off by turning our tiny conservatory in to a little workshop (which I quickly out grew!), but both Natalie and I wanted to create a business where we could make beautiful wooden furniture and gifts that had that special unique quality that has been lost in mass production on the high street. That’s where the personalised factor came in and after a year of practising and honing the skill of hand carving lettering I felt we were ready to launch our personalised range of wooden furniture and gifts. Everything we make is made by my own two hands which gives every item that extra special and truly unique quality.
Where do you seek inspiration from for your product range?
Hmm that’s a good question, it’s hard to say as I draw inspiration from all over really, but without sounding to corny I think nature, and the natural beauty of wood plays a big role. We’re lucky enough to live next door to a small woodland area so I’m constantly surrounded by trees and all the nature that comes with it. It’s taught me a huge respect for both trees and the environments they create so I think it’s important to celebrate the beauty of the wood. I like to keep the pieces I create as simple as possible, I’m not a particularly fussy woodworker, I don’t use elaborate or over complicated joinery, I just like to let the wood play the starring role whilst turning it in to something practical and attractive for the home. The other big inspiration is having become a father, we now have two children under the age of four, and they are forever inspiring me and teaching me how to reconnect with my imagination, it’s very inspiring when you’re struggling to come up with new ideas and you see a three year old disappear into a complete fantasy world that they’ve created in their own minds, it helps me to stop over thinking things and just let the ideas come as and when they do. I suppose the Danish word ‘Hygge’ would be a very good word to describe it all.
What are your greatest achievements to date?
I think it would have to be the business as a whole. We started the business with practically nothing, I remember Natalie had had a small tax rebate which she kindly let me use to buy some more tools and some pieces of oak, and from there it all started. We now have a fully equipped workshop which has on the whole come from re investing the money that we’ve made back into the business. And even though we are still a very small business, every year we look back and see how it’s grown and become stronger. It’s been a real tough ride and at times it might have been easier to throw in the towel, but both Natalie and I are very good at supporting each other and believe in the business, so little by little we’ve managed to grow something from nothing. It’s a really great feeling when we look back and see what we’ve achieved.
Who inspires you?
I think my children inspire me more than anyone inspires me, they constantly keep you on your toes and we’re always having to come up with new ideas of making furniture that suit the environment of a toddler or crawling baby whilst still holding on to a home that has attractive furniture.
Something that’s always stuck with me though is I remember going on work experience whilst I was at school. I was lucky enough to have a couple of weeks working with two brothers who run a contemporary exterior furniture company (they make beautiful benches!). I still remember the feeling I had when I walked into their workshop and thinking that ‘This is what I want to do!’ it’s always stuck with me and even though I haven’t seen them for about 20 or so years I still draw inspiration from them. Their mantra was and still is ‘simplicity of form and honesty of material’ which still very much resonates with me now.
What is important to you in business?
The most important thing is creating something for someone and it exceeding their expectations. I often make larger pieces of furniture for more local customers and will often deliver it them in person. I remember not long ago I had a customer order a couple of children’s chairs and she wanted a small table to go with it. I happened to deliver it in person and she told me that her grandmother had recently passed away and left a little bit of money for her to spend on her small children. She decided she wanted to have something made that would become a kind of family heirloom so decided to buy the children’s furniture from me. She was over joyed and a little emotional about the pieces when I brought them to her, and it’s that kind of end result and customer satisfaction that’s very important to us.
What do you enjoy most about your business?
It has to be the sense of achievement when I’ve finished making a piece of furniture. There’s something immensely satisfying about making something with your own two hands and then standing back and looking at something you’ve created from just a few bits of oak.
What has been your biggest endorsement to date you have received for your product/s
I don’t think there’s really one stand out endorsement as such, but one of our regular customers who keeps coming back to us for more furniture (which in its self is a great endorsement), recently asked us to produce an oak easel for her daughter. It was a really fun project and when we delivered it to her she was amazed by it and I think her words were ‘this must literally be THE best easel in the world!’, now I’m not sure about the world! But it was pretty big praise.
Why did you choose to list your products on oodlique?
We felt when approached by oodlique that it seemed like a really good opportunity, the website looked great and oodlique seems to be going from strength to strength. We also felt there was a good personal touch to their initial communications and emails which is important and gave us the feeling that they cared about the crafts people they have listed on their site, so we felt they’d be a good partner.
What has your experience been like working with oodlique?
Even though the working relationship is still very new, we’ve found oodlique and its team to be very helpful and prompt at replying and helping us get set up on their site. So far I’d definitely recommend them.
What does the future hold for your business?
We have big plans for growing our range of hand crafted furniture and gifts. We also aim to have a larger workshop and possibly have a couple of other crafts people working for us in the next couple of years to grow the business but always holding on to the hand crafted nature of our work.