Rothbury business wins start-up of the year regional award

A Rothbury business has been named best start-up in the northern region in the Rural Business Awards 2021-2022.

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 11:47 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 11:55 am
John Holt of Otter Handmade.

Otter Handmade, makers of bespoke wooden furniture, is the brainchild of John Holt and was set up early in 2020.

John, who had worked as a chartered accountant for the previous 25 years, has loved handcrafting wooden furniture for over 40 years and decided to act on his dream of turning his love of design, craft and construction into a business just as we were all about to spend a great deal more time at home.

In its first 20 months Otter Handmade has created kitchens, a library, desks, shelving units, blanket boxes, jewellery boxes, settles, welsh dressers, display cabinets, pantries, boot rooms, breakfast bar stools, drying racks, hat and coat stands, children’s Christmas Eve boxes, and much much more.

The breadth and diversity of John’s designs were commented on by Rural Business Awards judges.

He will now represent the region at the national finals in January.

John said: “We are delighted to have been named best start-up in the north by the Rural Business Awards.

"Handmaking wooden furniture in Northumberland has been our dream for years now and this is a tremendous boost to our plans.

"So, thank you to all our customers who supported us, the organisers - the Rural Business Awards - and their sponsor Amazon. ”

John walks, photographs and sketches every day and says he is inspired by the peace and nature that surrounds him.

His materials are natural, his techniques traditional and his pieces designed to become clients’ family heirlooms.

John only works with timber from sustainable sources or uses rare woods recycled from old furniture bought at auction.

Otter Handmade’s sustainability has also been recognised by National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise at Newcastle University who are using the business as a case study for their Net Zero Campaign.

Much of Otter Handmade’s bespoke work has so far been designed for traditional houses reflecting their rural heritage.

During the Covid lockdowns, John undertook a series of outdoor commissions that deliberately reflect the traditional shapes of local farm buildings for modern purposes.

John said: “I am now working on a furniture collection specifically designed with modern properties in mind using beautiful wood and shapes to fit into contemporary living spaces and modern lifestyles. Some of this collection will be on display at Christmas fairs in the region in December.”

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