Gregory Brooker is the founder of Glasstone Furniture, a brand that was almost inevitable to come to fruition given his family backstory. We spent some time with him to find out more…
Tell us about the journey that lead you to launch Glasstone Furniture…
I have always been interested in craftsmanship since I was very young. My grandfather, who sadly I never got to meet, was a cabinet maker and I inherited all his woodwork tools. I loved doing woodwork projects at every opportunity when I was a child and started wood turning from the age of fourteen when my Mum’s boss at the time, Mike Farthing, taught me.
I would go to steam shows and craft fairs and do wooden sign writing which was a lovely thing to be involved in.
When I saw the French Reproduction furniture and the Llewelyn Bowen range I was impressed with it as I have always believed furniture should be well made as well as beautiful – combining functionality with artistic beauty is satisfying on every level! I knew then I wanted to be part of bringing these lovely pieces to people with similar values.
What has been the biggest learning curve since launching the business?
Dealing with customers can be a fine art in itself – I believe that when a customer puts in an order, it goes back a lot further than that and means so much more. I feel I can see the hopes they have placed onto the pieces as soon as they spotted the item they loved. My biggest aim is to complete that journey from hope to actualizing that dream, making sure they get exactly what they want, fulfilling their expectations so they can fully enjoy having beautiful pieces to complete their homes. Dealing with various forms of selling can hamper that flow but I see it as my job to make that part of the buying process as smooth and hassle free as possible for them.
How often do you launch new products?
As often as they become available!
How would you describe your interior design style in your own home?
I would say eclectic, rustic and shabby chic! I have a thing about older pieces of furniture as you can feel the history in pieces like that, but I also like the clean beauty of a new piece. I love how the two styles look together (not everyone’s cup of tea!) There are memories stored in some old pieces that have been knocking around forever that I wouldn’t want to part with but sometimes you also want something purely practical for storage or something that is like art in itself to enjoy looking at.
Looking back since launching the brand, is there anything you would do different?
Before I launched my business I was working with different website developers, however I quickly realised that I needed to be conducting the whole business myself in order to do it justice so I learned how to do that part myself so I could work better with the developer I now have. Looking back I could have saved time and money if I’d done this from the beginning.
Talk us through an average day in your life…
My day always begins with a strong lavazza coffee which is close to a religion for me! After that it’s all down to business – tasks on the menu are varied and interesting and include checking and updating stock quantities, answering customer queries and ringing them back to discuss the brands, social media posts, talking to the suppliers, working on marketing and promotions and answering media requests, keeping an eye on new products and following up to make sure customers are happy.
Winding down in the evening means hanging out with my beautiful cat Biscuit watching a bit of TV and reading – anything to help switch my brain off at the end of the day.
How much has social media played a role in the success of your brand?
Social media is important certainly, but it’s only one part of the process. It can definitely be an important tool to get the brand out there and let it strut its stuff. it’s almost like an art installation to see images of the beautiful products filling the screen and is a great way, for instance, for interior designers to see and like the products I’m selling.
Other types of media have been very important too, such as traditional media. I’ve had pieces in national press magazines ‘House Beautiful’, ‘Kitchens, Bedrooms and Bathrooms’, ‘English home’, as well as local area magazines ‘Cheshire life’, ‘Essex living’ and newspapers including Star on Sunday TV Life Magazine feature on John Torode and Lisa Faulkner “Get the look” which is a great endorsement of the brand.
Bloggers too are vital – it’s great to have interest from them as they share my passion for the product and have a following of people already interested in the sort of thing I’m doing to pass information on to.
What is your go-to quote when lacking motivation?
I’ve always found Richard Branson to be an inspirational entrepreneur so I often get his quote from his book in my head – ‘screw it, let’s do it’!
What’s next for the business?
Soon I’m launching a new range of stylish contemporary furniture which will be named after Surrey villages which is a link to where I grew up and I’m really excited about these pieces! There will be everything from bedside tables, mirrors, ottomans to dining room tables, coffee tables, desks, you name it!
I’ve also teamed up with a UK company who manufacture ergonomic office chairs which can go along with the office desks already on offer which will look great as well as being good for peoples’ back health.
What advice would you offer to someone launching an interiors brand?
I would say pick something that is personal to you and that you’re excited about!
What does self care mean to you?
Self care means being able to relax after you’ve been working hard, taking some time for yourself and of course making sure you’ve got beautiful furniture around you!
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