A bit about Grain
What do we do?
We make space-conscious furniture. It's customised by you, from our own range of designs, to be exactly what you want. Made by hand, from solid wood, here in the UK.
We’re on a mission to change how you buy furniture. We believe customised furniture doesn’t need to be expensive, and are passionate about our business that makes real products, built to last, that people love. Choose an exact size to work in your space, and a type of wood to match your budget, all made simple using our online platform.
So... how do you start a furniture business?
You’ll need more time, money, and boundless self-belief than you ever imagined. But it’ll be worth it… promise!
You like making furniture, maybe you’re even quite good at it – and you have an eye for design. People love what you’ve made, you feel you know what people want, and most of all, you want to do what you truly enjoy every day for a living, master of your own life.
So go for it.
You’ve got a friend, someone who you have huge respect for, who knows how to do things you don’t. Whilst talking over a drink, you spot a niche in the market. You know it’ll be fun working together, and you know that between you there’s everything you need to get something this crazy off the ground. A problem shared is a problem halved, and now there’s really no excuse not to go for it.
Well, this is how we started. Then come the decisions.
The making is the fun part right? Everyone enjoys something hands-on, seeing something real come to life. So you decide you’ll make everything yourself. No outsourcing, or made in China, and besides- having local craftsmen making the product should have huge appeal.
The most frequent question we’ve been asked is actually ‘how are you getting your stuff made?’ To which we reply, often to some surprise (it seems most people assume their products are made in large factories on the other side of the world) ‘we make it ourselves, here in London’.
It’s easy enough to start something small. But then you want a website. A good website. That costs. So you put together a plan to raise some capital, and go out and get it. Now you need to sell more products, which means you need a marketing strategy that doesn’t just rely on word of mouth, and then you realise you will need a dedicated workshop and staff to handle the larger output, designs that are easy to repeat flawlessly and efficiently, and before you know it you have the blueprint from a major business, rather than just being a couple of guys making nice tables in their local open-access workshop.
You spend the early weeks and months staring up at what looks like a huge mountain, but by focusing on each small step, you slowly start to make you way up. Finding suppliers, staying on top of cashflow, delays, mistakes, moments of crippling doubt- headaches all. But the look on a happy customers’ face is all you need after the blood, sweat and tears- job satisfaction like no other.
We see this as life in technicolour, and it is just the beginning.
We’re Robin Tyler and Tom Allen, friends who have given up our careers to start anew, solve a problem, and make products that people will love.
Robin’s the serious one. The realist. The old adage about measuring twice and cutting once? That’s Robin. Except he’ll measure 12 times. Robin’s 4 p's of pragmatism, patience, perseverance, and perfection are the reasons why we’re so confident in the construction, strength and finish of Grain products: he has relentlessly tested and retested every process, material and piece of software in our world.
And there are some really funny videos of him jumping on tables.
Robin has an analytical background, he’s got a Masters in Geophysics from University College London and, prior to taking Grain full time, spent years working in natural hazard modelling. Robin’s one of those people who instantly knows how to use software packages and big fancy machines.
There’s only one place Robin would rather be than a workshop - and that’s in the saddle.
Robin’s a cycling nut. People wonder if the lycra ever comes off. He hasn’t been on public transport since circa 2008, and likes to take his bike to Europe’s cycling hotspots and mountainous vistas.
He’s the detail guy. The reason Grain products will last a lifetime? Robin made it so.
Tom’s one of life’s true ideas men. An extrovert. Tom doesn’t see obstacles; he doesn’t hear no. Tom’s a guy who jumps into projects and makes them happen. His vision and fearlessness have kept the momentum and the ideas flowing under Grain since we decided to make a go of it. Tom’s the creative force, steering our designs, brand and the shape of our business.
Photography, production, graphics - it’s all Tom. He’s the guy who’s never off your Instagram.
Tom started his first company at just 19 - a graphic design business which successfully grew to a staff of six, and took on major brand and marketing contracts in the building and construction world. He’s a fan of leading from the front with big ideas and doesn’t, simply doesn’t, have an off-switch.
Tom’s passionate about rock climbing and surfing - anything adrenaline related really. Any other time he can be found furioulsy taking notes, stashing ideas and inspiration away for later in one of his 17 different notebooks.
He’s the let’s-do-it guy. The engine room. The reason for Grain’s striking brand, big ideas and colossal ambition? That’s our Tom.