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11 Feb 2019
Workshop life

West Oxfordshire Business Awards (WOBA) - Shortlisted

We were delighted to be shortlisted for a West Oxfordshire Business Award 2019, in the category of Best Micro Business. We were visited by two members of the WOBA team and we were asked to share our business ethos and vision for the Workshop.

In January this year, we applied for a West Oxfordshire Business Award (WOBA) in the Micro Business Category.

We were delighted to be shortlisted by the judges who then visited our workshop. Although we were a little nervous in anticipation of being judged and questioned, the visit proved to be very helpful and uplifting. We loved sharing our passion and enthusiasm with the judges and we hope we were able to convey to them just how much we love our work. We wanted to share our story and celebrate the success of our business. Applying for the award has been a really worthwhile experience, as it has challenged us to evaluate our strengths and also to clarify our vision for the future.

We were asked to describe what makes Stoneletters successful, describe challenges we have faced on the way and also expand on our vision for the future. Here is an extract from our application:

We are successful because:

1. Our work is outstanding and unique and

2. We have a 100% clients’ satisfaction rate. We believe that is something to be proud of.

Fergus trained at one of the most prestigious stone carving studios, the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop, where he graduated with a distinction. His skill in designing and making fine pieces of stonework is evident in the work. However, it is not only the end product that is important- the way we treat our clients and involve our clients is also paramount. It’s also about the attention to detail.

We always put our clients first. We never let them down, and we always meet our deadlines for delivery. We do not outsource any of the processes, and we install our work ourselves.

Our position in West Oxfordshire is attractive, as people from all over the UK are happy to travel to such a central location.

Our plans for the future:

We are in the process of writing a book called Choosing a Headstone. We hope this will be one the best resources available in the world for advising and inspiring people to choose a headstone. We will be selling the book to raise money for a Cancer support charity called Maggie’s. We hope that through our new book we will be able to reach a wider audience and help promote the art of commemoration and raise awareness about the importance of choosing a headstone in the bereavement process.

We take on new apprentices every four years and hope to continue training and promoting the art of fine lettering in stone. As well as our memorial work, we have recently won a prestigious contract to carve a Canopy of Stars at the Royal Albert Hall, to commemorate people past and present, who have performed at the Hall. This involves in situ carving of names every year into the paving around the Hall.

What sets us apart from our competitors:

Our work speaks for itself- it has a quality which is very rare. All of our work is hand carved and unique. There is no comparison between our work and that of more commercial monumental masons. There are other letter cutters in the country making fine stone products, but we believe our business is most successful because we work as a team.

Hannah is able to dedicate her time to promoting the website which builds client trust, and we all share the same ethos: “we always strive for perfection both in our work and in our relationships with our clients”. We do not believe there is a more helpful website than ours in the world, for helping people to choose a headstone. Our blog is full of inspiration and helpful advice.

Why we believe we should win the WOBA:

It’s all about our attention to detail, and the passion we have for our work. This is reflected in the quality of our work and the experience we give our clients. Nothing is hurried. If our clients are happy, then we feel fulfilled and we judge our business to be a success. Anything less would be a failure, no matter how profitable we were.

We believe our business is a wonderful example of the potential for a very niche, bespoke product to compete with large-scale mass-produced alternatives, by building client trust with a focus on quality rather than quantity and speed. Hand carved lettering in stone is a traditional skill- winning this award would highlight this craft and help the revival of the art of commemoration, keeping our churchyards interesting for the next generation.

Fergus W
Written by

Fergus Wessel

Designer and letter-carver

Fergus created Stoneletters Studio in 2003, after training at the Kindersley Workshop. He is a member of the prestigious Master Carver's Association.