Craft Focus - June/July 2020 (Issue 79)

64 Craft at its peak Director of Peak Dale Products, Graham Aldous, talks to Craft Focus about his life in the craft world from the age of eight Tell us a little bit about Peak Dale Products. When did the company start and how has it evolved? Peak Dale Products Ltd started in 1997. Myself, my wife Julie, my sister-in-law Bernie and two other members of staff started the business to manufacture craft products and sell wholesale to craft shops. As time has passed, our customers are more and more internet-based sellers although we still support the craft shops. Our son, Daniel, now works in the business and we hope that he will continue when (and if) we retire. How has the industry changed since you began? The internet has become more accessible to the general public. When we started, craft products were purchased in craft shops and there were thousands of shops up and down the country. Now most shops have an online presence and this has become more profitable than the shop. We still believe that the shop has a place in the craft world as crafters are very touchy-feely people and like to see a product before buying. Shops also provide an opportunity to bring customers together by offering classes and teaching people new crafts. What’s your background? Have you always had an interest in crafting? My great grandfather started a business in Manchester selling cane to make hampers for the cotton industry. My grandfather joined him and they introduced handicrafts. My father wasn’t interested in the business and wanted to farm and he bought a cattle farm in Derbyshire. I was born there and spent my early years playing in the fields. When I was eight years old, my uncle, who also worked in the craft business, died and my father was asked to sell up and come and work in the business. That was the start of my life in the craft world. So, at the age of eight, I helped my father serve customers, pick and pack orders and visit suppliers. You could say that I learned the trade at my father’s knee. Talk us through your current collections. We manufacture a lot of our own products. We have a large woodworking department where we cut, sand and drill to produce products such as flower presses, batik frames and bead looms. We also sell various metals like pewter, copper, aluminium and brass. Our recent metal embossing kits designed by our Caroline Buchwald have been a real best seller. We also make hundreds of different shaped copper blanks. We like to design kits which contain everything you need to get started on a craft. Later, people can top up with products to continue the craft. We try to follow trends and have recently produced a