There are many approaches to launching a creative business. Some would choose to take time studying and researching their chosen field before starting with the basics and slowly progressing.

Some would do that, but not Gareth Brookes.

He opted to throw himself in at deep end when he started his furniture making business – and it worked well for him.

The Prestwich-based window cleaner has a passion for wood and when his work dried up in lockdown, he branched out.

A selection of his hand tools. A selection of his hand tools. (Image: Kirsty Thompson)

‘I was mainly cleaning the windows of shops and businesses but during lockdown they couldn’t open, so I wasn’t working,’ he said. ‘I like being busy and I was sitting at home twiddling my thumbs so my partner suggested I get a gazebo in the garden and start making something.

‘From day one I had the confidence to try complex things. I watched some videos on You Tube and had a go. The first things I tried were dovetail joints which aren’t easy. The early results weren’t exactly professional and I took a few hits to my confidence along the way, but I did improve.’

He has made almost all the furniture in his own home and has created pieces for family and friends for years and this month he’ll display his work at the Future Icons exhibition in London.

The Stockport-born 38-year-old knew from a young age that he wanted to be self-employed, but had no clear idea of a career plan.

This button stool was the first piece Gareth sold This button stool was the first piece Gareth sold (Image: Courtesy of Goldfinch Brookes)

‘I was a part of that generation that was obsessed with going to university – the idea of doing a trade was seen as a punishment, so I did my A-levels and went off to do a history degree at uni in Nottingham,’ he added. ‘I didn’t enjoy it at all, but I felt it was something I should do.

‘While I was there, I started cleaning windows part-time and when I came back I bought a round in Stockport – I still do a few days. I’ll keep doing that until I have a good steady income from my furniture.’

He moved to Prestwich after he met social worker Katie and the couple now have a young daughter and a fledgling business, Goldfinch Brookes – the name is emblematic of his new life taking flight.

‘Between furniture making, window cleaning and having a baby, life is pretty hectic. There have been a million steps since that first day in the garden,’ said Gareth who now has his own space in a workshop in Droylsden.

Gareth at work. Gareth at work. (Image: Kirsty Thompson)

‘There is so much to consider when you launch something – it's one thing to learn the skills and design and make furniture you’re happy with, but it’s another to build a website and promote yourself on social media.

‘I tried to do a few courses but it seems to be a very exclusive club – they cost so much that it’s really quite prohibitive for most people. I did save up to do one and it was full of retired well-off men spending time indulging in a fantastic course. I was the only person these of working age who planned to make a business of it.

‘The first piece I sold was a stool for one of Katie’s friends. She sent me a picture of something similar and I had no idea how to make it but I did some research and eventually ended up with a piece we were both happy with.

‘It’s a real see-saw feeling, being a maker. When a piece is finished I’m happy with what I’ve created but can’t stop thinking how I could have done it better.’

This cabinet inspired by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser is the biggest piece Gareth has made so farThis cabinet inspired by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser is the biggest piece Gareth has made so far (Image: Courtesy of Goldfinch Brookes)

If he’s not always entirely satisfied with the end results, other people are. He has a growing number of clients – mainly across Lancashire, but also further afield – and he was named a 'Rising Star of Today's Design Scene' by Homes and Gardens magazine.

‘I have too many ideas. I lie awake at night picturing angles and shapes. I never stop thinking about what I want to make next.

‘I make these cabinets in a range of sizes and they are places to store treasured objects. The world is becoming more digital and less tangible, but these pieces are all hand made using traditional tools.

Gareth uses hand tools and leaves signature nicks and marks in the wood. Gareth uses hand tools and leaves signature nicks and marks in the wood. (Image: Kirsty Thompson)

‘As time goes by, fewer and fewer people use their hands and make things. My dream is to teach people and to run classes to show other people how to make pieces, and to develop their love of real timber and the joy it can bring to your home. I want to show that it’s not essential to go on expensive courses in order to be able to design and create.

‘I built our kitchen and the house is full of furniture I have made – it's all stuff that will last for hundreds of years and that is a great feeling but Katie does tell me that not everything in the house has to be made from wood.

‘I mainly use English oak and a lot of it comes from country estates. An oak tree spends about 200 years growing, 200 years dying and then I turn it into something that will last at least another 200 years.’

Gareth will be exhibiting at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, Victoria Baths Manchester from October 17-20. To see more of his work, go to