Way back when I started I made everything, my tools were recycled files and carpentry chisels and the lathe was a converted industrial grinding machine casting, I still use it but its on its third set of bearings now, these should last however they are car wheel bearings! Previously I had made stationary steam engines as a hobby and had accumulated a selection of metal working machinery. Most of this machinery had been salvaged as scrap and rebuilt with hand tools but was as good as if it had been bought new.
I still have all these metalwork facilities because they now make the metal parts for some of my range of goods and the specialised accessories I can’t buy. Some of these accessories have become so successful I now make them to sell.
After a while the quality of my turning reached a point where I found I could sell it so I did and the money was ploughed back by buying “proper” tools. In some instances the replacement of those old home-made tools resulted in improved efficiency but not always so I was left always keen to experiment with new ideas. I now have some tools which the big manufacturers don’t have. I don’t make a lot of them but I do supply all my course clients. One day I may move into this area of business, the problem being capital.
Eventually the “proper” job was lost to redundancy and being over 50 and a senior manager at the time I found I was virtually unemployable and so started out on my own. The first requisit was speed but not at the expense of quality but then I hit a snag. My main outlet for turned goods was craft fairs and they turned out to be seriously seasonal so I cast around for supplimentary income. I discovered I could teach and soon had quite a few beginners on courses. To do this I had to dip into the redundancy compensation to buy more tools and machinery but in the process of going after trade deals I found I could sell on, way below the high street craft outlets. I was soon financing the expansion of the business from the sales of the stuff I needed to buy for myself.
As time has gone on I have opened up trade arrangements on everything I now use and in a lot of instances have managed to get myself plugged in well up the supply chain so my discounts are impressive.