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South Yorkshire craftsman carves out new business focus

A Barnsley-based craftsman is carving out a new focus for his business by building bespoke furniture for local homes and companies.

Designer and cabinetmaker Reece Van Sanden, who runs Van Sanden from a workshop in the town centre, has spent the last five years completing home improvement projects for people across South Yorkshire.

He originally built his business around services including kitchen and bathroom installations, but is now focusing on his love of creating individual items of furniture designed and made to personal requirements.

As well as crafting beds, cabinets, tables, seating and even Wendy houses out of materials including wood, steel, concrete and glass, Reece is often asked to create corporate products such as reception desks, trade show stands and production jigs.

He has also designed a line of children’s beds designed to look like show jumps, and counts the pony-mad daughter of a well-known TV personality amongst his clients.

A Barnsley-based craftsman is carving out a new focus for his business by building bespoke furniture for local homes and companies.
The ‘Pony Bed’ created by Reece Van Sanden

Reece, who relocated his business from London in 2011, has been supported by Enterprising Barnsley, the business development and support arm of Barnsley Council.

He has benefitted from free guidance from their Launchpad service to help develop the furniture side of the business, attending a marketing workshop at the Digital Media Centre and receiving one-to-one coaching in how to reach more customers.

Reece is now being supported to expand his online presence through social media and his website, as well as building and maintaining an email database, and developing a new brochure.

He said:

I’ve always relied on word of mouth for my home improvement work, but I needed help to spread the word about the bespoke furniture side. I want people to know that factory-made furniture taken straight from a production line is not their only option.

I’ve worked hard to be outstanding in my trade, but I’m not always so good with the business side of things, so the support I’ve had from Enterprising Barnsley has been crucial.

After leaving London to be nearer family, Reece rented workshops in Sheffield and Denby Dale before taking on premises on Doncaster Road in Barnsley.

A Barnsley-based craftsman is carving out a new focus for his business by building bespoke furniture for local homes and companies.
Reece Van Sanden

He said:

There’s a real buzz in Barnsley and I love being based on Doncaster Road as there is such an eclectic mix of independent businesses. I feel like the area is a bit of a hidden gem. Being based opposite Barnsley Antique’s Centre is fantastic as I often pop in to find bits of old furniture that I can turn into new and exciting pieces.

Reece also works with Barnsley business Folio Albums creating bamboo boxes for their luxury products which are sent all over the world.

He currently works on his own, but is looking to hire someone as an apprentice- to work with him to learn the craft and help grow with the business.

Angela Pedley, business development manager at Enterprising Barnsley, said:

Reece is a very skilled craftsman who originally trained in furniture design and cabinet making. Although he built a successful business in a related field installing kitchens and so on, it’s great to see him now put his passion into his first love of creating home furnishings, and we’re delighted to be supporting his business growth.

Enterprising Barnsley, the economic development arm of Barnsley Council, provides specialist support to businesses with growth potential. The Digital Media Centre, Barnsley’s flagship creative and digital hub, is part of their portfolio of business support and accommodation.

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