Gavin and his daughter, LillieThe birth of a daughter inspired carpenter and cabinetmaker Gavin Kirkbride to take stock of his life and start his own business.

Gavin knows his trade - he spent 15 years with the world-renowned 'Mouseman of Kilburn', Robert Thompson's Craftsmen Ltd, in Kilburn, North Yorks, making bespoke furniture featuring a hand-carved mouse on each piece.

After daughter Lillie was born, Gavin used his savings to start Lily Handmade Furniture . Taking a tip from his former employer, he finishes each piece of bespoke furniture with a hand-carved lily.


Gavin, a member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen, sought advice from Business Link but found a friend's tips for success more useful.

He said: "received far better practical help and advice from Bill Simpson, a carpenter and specialist joiner who had given me some work experience when I was at school. He was the man who put me in touch with Robert Thompson's and has remained close throughout my career, offering me advice when I require it."

Bill told Gavin to stay in work while establishing his own enterprise.

"It meant I was always busy, working full-time, and carrying on my own work when I returned home of an evening. When I had built up my own work to 20 hours a week, I realised that the time was right to go it alone."

"It is a struggle at first, but it gets better with time. I've been going for a year, and expect it to take another two years to become really well-established."

Gavin rents a workshop and displays his furniture in other shop premises in Northallerton. Interested customers receive a business card from the owners, which they can use to contact Gavin.

However, Gavin says people think they can barter because he doesn't own his own premises.

"Around 30-40 hours of work can go into a chair. I sell it for around £300-£400. However, customers who do not appreciate that amount of work try to get the price down."

"Mass produced furniture is easily available on the High Street. What I produce is bespoke and particular to specific customers' requirements."

Gavin's future plans include exhibiting at the Harrogate Flower Show, the South of England Show and the Badminton Horse Trials next year. In the longer term, he's keen to pass his skills to apprentices of his own.

Contact Gavin Kirkbride


01609 773827


07851 671893



Gavin Kirkbride
28 De Bruce Road,
North Yorkshire,
DL6 2QE.

Follow Gavin:

Like me on Facebook
Follow me on twitter
Call Now

01609 773827