When we think of the furniture industry, our first thoughts go to those working in design studios or on the workshop floor, however the range of jobs and opportunities within the field of furniture is far broader than just that. This week I caught up with Managing Director, Mandi Cleyndert to discuss her position as head of a fine furniture company, as it is important to acknowledge that there are women at all levels within this industry…
How do you come to be part of the furniture industry?
My father has been making furniture for as long as I can remember. He started out as a one-man band, making in a barn in the garden. I started working there whilst still at school, in the workshop and in the office, entering time sheets, putting brochures together, and learning how to gild furniture. I left to go to University and then established a career in London in a totally different field, before returning 9 years ago to work in the business.
What is the thing about furniture that is so appealing to you?
There is never just one way to do something, which keeps things interesting. I like things, which please the eye and love the different materials and finishes we can work with.
How would you describe your job?
Slave, conductor, back patter, debt collector….
What is the most satisfying thing about your work?
When we are firing on all cylinders. The workshop is buzzing and the office feels like they are making headway.
How do you manage being the head of a company and finding a good work-life balance?
I don’t is the answer to that. I mostly feel like I do everything badly because I am torn and compromised on all fronts. You have to juggle as best you can and hope that those close to you recognize that you can only do your best.
Which would you say describes you best: artist, craftsperson, designer?
None of the above. Imposter mostly. Passionate team builder perhaps.
As an employer, what do you look for in an employee? Particularly, if you are looking to hire graduates/young people?
First and foremost, a positive attitude. Someone who has an eye for detail and is conscientious and likes to work. We can teach the rest.
Do you think some responsibility falls on employers to promote a gender balance amongst their work force, without compromising talent and efficiency?
I think it starts earlier than that. We are limited by supply of talent and there are few females I come across in furniture or construction other than in the design side. I think schools need to do more to promote manufacturing, construction and craft. We are having to go directly to schools now to attract talent, as there are no furniture or cabinet making courses in Norfolk.
What advice would you give to someone, especially females, who are looking to enter the furniture/craft industry?
Get some experience, the more diverse the better. Try working in different aspects of the business for a fuller picture of what career possibilities exist.
To find out more about Bill Cleyndert Bespoke Furniture, visit: http://www.bill-cleyndert.com
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