Meet the maker – The Little Oak Latch Company
The Little Latch Company is a small family business situated in the West Pennine Moors. They design and manufacture oak latches, catches, hooks and homeware. We caught up with owners Wayne and Jill to find out more…
How did it all start?
Wayne has always loved the tactile nature of wood and, being a former maths teacher, has always been very methodical and analytical, enjoying understanding how things work. Having made some door latches for our home several years ago, the company from where he purchased his timber wanted to buy the latches to accompany the doors that they make. Wayne left teaching to pursue his passion of creating products out of oak. His wife Jill was a head teacher and last year left education to help Wayne develop the range and manage the growing demand for the products. We are now probably the world leaders of hand crafted traditional oak door latches!
The story behind the name…
When we moved to our house from where we now work, there was a sapling oak tree in the garden. Over the last 22 years this has grown to a height of 15 meters and is always referred to as the Little Oak. We though that the name “The Little Oak Company” fitted in well with our ethos of providing a personal service where each order is designed, made, tested and carefully packed by us.
What inspires you?
Working with a natural product in a traditional way to produce items that will last for future generations to enjoy. We use anything and everything to inspire us to create new products, from a visit to an art gallery or a walk in the woods. A recent visit to Barcelona, and in particular the Gaudi museum, was an inspiration. The organic and ergonomic methods that he used has made us think about further developing our products.
What is your creation process?
We look to combine traditional methods and modern living using the inherent strength and beauty of oak to produce functional and stylish solutions. We sit down together and bounce off ideas. We then make a prototype, looking at ways of improving the design and manufacturing process as we go along. We finally get to what we think is the finished product and test. We then produce a small batch for sale. This is the most time consuming but exciting part of what we do and of course there are no guarantees that the final product will sell!
What makes you, your brand or products unique?
Each item is hand crafted by us. We have complete control over the design and manufacturing process enabling us to produce truly unique items. We are able to select our timber for each product which ensures that each piece is of the very highest standard. We also are aware of our environmental responsibility and ensure that all packaging is recyclable.
What is your next project?
We think that it is important to keep our range of products fresh. We continually strive to extend our range, responding to the needs of our customers. We have lots of new products that we plan to bring to the next Country Living Fair – watch this space!
What is your biggest achievement?
Creating our business out of vision and determination. Being able to work together as a team is such a privilege. We both love every aspect of our work and together design, make and plan our products and next steps.
What is your best-selling product/line?
The door latches are loved by everyone and we have extended the range. We started with the traditional Suffolk Latch and then made a more angular version which we named the Harrier Latch after our house name. We also have the ergonomic Grab latch and funky Toggle Latch.
What do you love about Country Living Fairs?
They are a fantastic opportunity to meet our customers and share our love of our products with them. We are able to gain valuable feedback which enables us to think about improving our products. We also really enjoy meeting the other crafts people. The shows are a real celebration of crafts and arts and we are in constant awe of the ability and creativity of other exhibitors.
Your three top tips for crafters and makers…
1. Make what you enjoy.
2. Make sure that your products are of a high standard.
3. Don’t be afraid of taking your time to get the perfect result.
Any advice for fledgling businesses…
Have a plan and a vision and expect to work hard. You will need to put your heart and soul into what you do so above all enjoy!
Read more about The Little Oak Company and shop their products at: www.littleoakcompany.co.uk