Mid Devon’s bespoke kitchen business
PUBLISHED: 15:12 19 January 2016 | UPDATED: 15:12 19 January 2016
Matt Austin _
Lee Andrews has turned a childhood passion for making things into a bespoke kitchen business in the heart of Devon
When Lee Andrews was a young boy he spent happy hours during school holidays tinkering in his grandfather’s shed.
Granddad had died when Lee was six - but inside his garden shed the DIY enthusiast’s woodworking equipment was sitting, just waiting to be used.
It was the perfect place for Lee to disappear and develop his passion for making things. It’s a passion that still burns bright today as Lee – now married with children of his own – builds up his kitchen business Lowe and Bespoke.
Walking around the former tripe factory in Crediton from where the business operates, Lee looks back fondly on those early holiday experiments. It was a far happier time than at school, where his dyslexia saw him struggle in class.
He says: “Ever since I was in grandad’s shed I have always loved making. We all have our strengths and mine is visualising and building stuff. That’s why I’ve always done it, I think.”
School in South Devon wasn’t great for a boy with dyslexia, Lee admits. But when he left and took up a job with a cabinet maker he realised he had found his vocation. It was a job he loved and he says: “I would probably still be there if it wasn’t for the fact that he had to make everyone redundant. We were making a lot of hay-cart style stalls that you’d see people selling crepes and jewellery from on Paddington station.”
The redundancy gave Lee the impetus to try setting up in business, and he won support from the Prince’s Trust in the form of a grant.
“When I was first starting up I had nothing but hand tools for years. I’d still make what I could, so I was making things out of plywood. Anything I could get my hands on I made things out of.”
Proving that plywood could be made beautiful Lee created hand-carved mirrors that won a competition. The prize was a chance to exhibit at the Ideal Home Exhibition at Earl’s Court where he sold a piece before the event had even opened.
He’s now concentrating on getting the Lowe and Bespoke name better known locally. He has customers in Brighton and London but would like more Devon people to see the firm’s work - displayed in a showroom he built himself at the front of the old factory.
He says: “If we can get the people here we can sell the kitchens. People love to see that the carcass inside the units is all birch, that we use tulip wood, that we feature dovetail and mortise and tenon joints, that we can finish it to any size. We are geared up and ready - now it’s just getting the work in and getting the brand known.”
Meanwhile Lee is making sure that he makes the most of living and working in Devon – by taking his wife and children in their camper van to the moors or a surf beach. w