Made in Britain: Furniture manufacturer, Herringbone Kitchens

William Durrant reveals the inspiration behind his bespoke furniture brand Herringbone Kitchens and explains why it’s important to find your own style.

Tell us about your business?

My Name is William Durrant and I’m the founder and director of Herringbone Kitchens, a family run, progressive and exciting bespoke kitchen and furniture design and manufacturer based in Canterbury, Kent.

I started the company in 2014 at the age of 28 with my wife Elly and we have grown it incredibly quickly in just seven years. We opened our workshop in Canterbury, Kent a few years ago, which has enabled us to make everything in Britain and work with skilled local workmen.

What was the inspiration behind your company?

I was a designer for large kitchen companies in the past and although I enjoyed it, I knew I wanted to offer something different, so Herringbone Kitchens was started. In an industry where the average company is passed down through generations or owned by those 40+, we would like to think that we have broken the mould and offer our clients and staff a fresh and different kind of experience.

What does your role in the company consist of?

On a day-to-day basis I manage the workshop to ensure our kitchens are perfect and go out on time. As it is my business, I of course have a hand involved in every aspect, so I also run our social channels, do pay roll, do some design work and ensure our company strategy and growth is on track.

What sets you apart from your competition?

We actually think that quite a few things set us apart from our peers. Not only is every single design bespoke and unique to our clients in terms of kitchen design, but we also have a strong belief that the key to a successful business, is a happy team. I know it sounds old-fashioned, but such is our industry unfortunately, however we offer our employees unique benefits such as a great parental policy and a flexible working policy, a first in the kitchen manufacturing industry.

I also started Herringbone with a strong ethos of employing local craftspeople, using sustainable materials and giving a portion back to charity. It’s so important to give back, so we plant a tree for every kitchen made, we sponsor Canterbury Pride and we raise money for local charity Catching Lives.

How do you spread the word about your business?

We are a visual business so our social channels are incredibly important to us. The same goes for showing up in the right publications so our customers can find us and know what we’re all about. We therefore value PR as much as our marketing and invest in both. However, word of mouth is excellent, a lot of our clients are friends or family members of former clients.

How has business been during the Covid-19 pandemic?

We are busier than we have ever been. We are completely booked up for this year and for the start of next year. It’s been a hectic year to say the least however, we do not take it for granted and have made sure to do what we could do. During the first lockdown the team headed into the Canterbury workshop to make face shields for those essential workers lacking basic protective equipment in the local area. In just one day, the small team of volunteers went on to make 175 face shields that were distributed and shared between the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, Canterbury Hospital and teams of NHS physios across Kent.

How do you see your market evolving over the next few years?

I believe that the market is evolving to be more full home joinery projects, including wardrobes, side tables, boot rooms, dining tables etc. Clients like to be able to work with one company that offers it all, mainly because it’s easier than working with multiple suppliers on home projects but also because it makes the look of the interiors flow and match better.

What’s the hardest thing about running a business?

Time – we have three young children, one of them being a newborn. It’s hard dealing with a growing business, a large young family, Elly doing her PHD and just the general madness that all this brings.

What’s the best decision you’ve made so far?

Craft out your niche and don’t try to appeal to everyone – it’s not fun and it doesn’t bring you much satisfaction or focus.

If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?

I would change that we didn’t trust our style when we first started Herringbone and tried to appeal to everyone (gloss and country style kitchens). We now have a unique style that’s our own and we are proud of that.

What has been your proudest achievement so far?

The best thing is when we are able to give back. Sponsoring Canterbury Pride, making visors for the NHS, planting trees and volunteering at Catching Lives. Another proud moment is when employees are able to meet some of their life goals such as buying their first homes or finishing degrees. Our motto is like Henry Ford, a business that makes nothing but money is not a very good business and it’s a real privilege to be able to give back and be a part of people’s lives.

What are your hopes for your business in the next five years?

In the next five years we hope to continue to perfect our craft, there is no need to be a large multinational company in order to do so, it’s not what we strive to be. We strive to continue to be good at what we do and to be able to enjoy designing and making kitchens with our clients and team members.