My brother, Dom, and I have been talking about going into business since our early twenties. Our paths went different ways, mine along the not for profit / charity and his down the antique restoration and furniture finishing route.
Music was very important to both of us – we had and still have a shared love for bands such as the Fall, Daniel Johnston Captain Beefheart and Will Oldham. We played a bit too – making rough music in the guise of Throwaway Folk, listened by noone but we enjoyed every minute. We dreamt about having a café with a vinyl record and book shop – chaotic, edgy, a bit like the shop in Black Books.
Dom has gone on to be a first class furniture finisher. About 15 years ago I took a year out and worked with him. I was staggered by his skill and intensely artistic eye. He was working for some of the most prestigious antique dealers and interior designers in the world. He would take an expensive piece of furniture, 300 – 400 years old which had a new restored leg or large patches of new veneer and he would apply colour, waxes and treatments to the new piece and blend it to look exactly with the original. It was staggering to see the complex processes and techniques he used.
Fast forward 15 years and I went over to his place and after a couple of bottles of wine we got to chatting about our lives. I had made some changes to my working life and was exploring options and possibilities. I wanted to develop a working life that had different elements rather than have one job. We talked about going into business together – we jotted down a list of the most important things we were looking for and compared – they were the same, principally have fun, use our skills creatively and make a living that in some way expressed our personalities and passions. We decided to base the business on Dom’s skills – look for a place that could accommodate a workshop and a shop to sell Dom’s work. He would keep his existing clients and so would have to work on site and I would use the workshop as an office and conduct my not for profit and coaching work from there.
The next day I wandered down to Standard Quay, a beautiful setting by Faversham Creek with antique shops, cafes and a lovely pub. Over the years it has become a destination for people to come and wander around. I enquired about space and looked at one shared area that did not appeal and was about to go when I was told there was another space that had just become vacant. As soon as I climbed the stairs I knew this was the place – it was perfect.
I rang Dom and told him to come down and have a look – he agreed. The next day we signed the lease, set up a limited company and before we had time to fully comprehend what was happening Pierre & Dom had become a reality.
Sometimes things fall into place, actually that is not strictly true; you need to know what pieces you require, have them ready and when the right time / circumstances comes allow them to fall into place. We have both made some significant sacrifices in order to enable this to become reality. Will it work out? We don’t know, but it feels good working together and it is exciting to explore an idea and realise a long held dream.