A Hollywood movie is the inspiration behind a designer and furniture maker who has just set-up his own business with backing from the ethical lender DSL Business Finance. One of Edinburgh-based Robin J Horn’s first contracts was to design and build a bookcase inspired by one which appeared in the Hollywood film “Broken Embraces” starring Penelope Cruz. The wall of book cases is unique consisting of vertical shelves which appear to mimic a city skyline.
Although Robin (29) hadn’t seen the film he was able to produce a design based on the client’s description of the bookcases due to his design background.
Robin set-up his business, called Robin J Horn Designs and Construction, earlier this year after working for many years as a woodworker, designing and making beautifully crafted and original furniture. This included a spell making furniture out of deer antlers such as chandeliers and benches, many of which were exported to châteauxs in France.
He also worked for 56 North at the Albion Road Studios, in Edinburgh where there is a strong community of artists including glass blowers, textile designers and wood workers.
Robin, who has a Diploma in Spacial Design Interior Architecture, also does garden design, landscaping and property restoration and renovation. He is also about to begin constructing a completely unique garden bench made out of cob, a building material consisting of mixture of clay and straw which was used in prehistoric times.
However, when Robin tried to raise funds to set-up his business he could not find a bank to help him as many have reduced lending to small firms due to the economic downturn. He turned to the not-for-profit business lender DSL who gave him £3,000 to buy tools and a car, which he uses as his mobile office!
Glasgow-based DSL runs a £1.5 million loan fund to help small and start-up businesses create jobs and investment, especially in disadvantaged areas.
Under the Government scheme, the Enterprise Finance Guarantee, DSL can provide micro-finance of up to £30,000 to small firms even if they have been turned down by the banks.
Robin said: “People are becoming far more aware of good design. With the re-emergence of crafts and increasingly personalised products there has definitely been a move away from mass production. The clients I work for are happy to pay a bit more to have something unique, well made and designed specifically with their tastes in mind.
“I like to think of myself as an artist, primarily, and love to take on interesting projects such as the skyline shelves inspired by the Penelope Cruz movie.
“I needed to raise some working capital along with buying a car and essential tools. I work from home and on site, renting space and machines used at my old workshop, as and when necessary, to keep overheads to a minimum. When I approached DSL they were fantastic. They helped me with my business plan and made sure everything was in place before I applied for my loan.
“When I went up in front of the panel for assessment I was expecting the usual two or three people but it turned out to be five smiling faces around the table. They were very quick to put me at ease though and it felt more like an audience than an interview. They were very encouraging and receptive to my business proposal. The whole experience with the people working at DSL was very refreshing.
Eunice Lancaster, General Manager of Glasgow-Based DSL Business Finance said: “Robin has show that small, high-end niche businesses who know what their customers want can do well despite the economic down turn.
“Artists and designers can often find it hard to raise business finance as some banks don’t understand their market or their business is considered high risk.
“DSL was set-up to help small business to start-up and grow and create jobs and investment in disadvantaged areas. Many of businesses who have approached us for help have been turned down for business finance by their banks. 82 per cent of clients perceive DSL to be the only source of funding available to them.
“Unlike the banks we are not driven by profit”, added Eunice, “So we can be completely focused on supporting the small businesses who come to us for assistance.
“We have no shareholders or big bonuses to pay to staff. Any profit we do make is pumped into providing more loans for small firms. I like to think that we have a more ethical and prudent approach to lending. We still operate to high financial standards and have a rigorous loan application process, but we also try to get to know the person and their business needs. Clients appear before a “dragons den” style panel of experts to get their loan application approved but they also get guidance on business planning and accounts.”
Since setting up in 1983 DSL has helped more than 600 businesses create 2,000 jobs by providing more than £7 million in loans.
If you think DSL could help your business please contact them on Tel: 0141 425 2930 or go to www.dsl-businessfinance.co.uk.
For further information on Robin J Horn Designs and Construction, contact email@example.com or Tel: 07735 418866
Note to editors: DSL Business Finance (formerly known as Developing Strathclyde Ltd) based in Govan, Glasgow, is a Community Development Finance Initiative and a subsidiary of Community Enterprise in Scotland (CEiS), the largest development agency working in the social economy in Scotland. DSL now runs a £1.5 million loan fund for small and start-up businesses, social enterprise and charities. A 2008 evaluation found that 82% of DSL clients believed DSL to be their only available source of business finance.