Founder of Jolly Rockers Debbie Hinton was a finalist in the Simply Business 200,000 customers competition, with her story of a self-taught craft and a personal passion that blossomed into a business. We went to visit Debbie in her Surrey home to hear her story told in her own words, and we took a closer look at some of the wooden horses in her stable.
Sun streamed through the cottage windows, dappling the large wooden horse on the kitchen table. Rocking horse carver and small business owner Debbie Hinton was explaining how she’d learnt to create the beautiful creatures that she’d spread across her Surrey lawn for us to look at. The skill and craftsmanship evident in each lovingly-made piece suggested training over many years, but Debbie had only started carving the year before, and had entirely taught herself, using self-teach tools like a DVD.
We were visiting Debbie, founder of Jolly Rockers, to interview her about this remarkable business and her inspiring start-up story. As one of the largest providers of business insurance in the country, Simply Business gets a fascinating insight into UK businesses every day. When we celebrated reaching 200,000 customers in the summer and invited businesses to tell us their stories, Debbie’s immediately stood out.
We wandered round the horses in the garden to ‘The Stable’ where much of the woodcutting and other work takes place. Blocks beginning to take the shape of graceful horse heads were piled on the workbenches, amongst downy piles of wood shavings, tools and pots of paintbrushes. Debbie introduced us to her son, who helps her out with the initial work, cutting the large pieces of wood into the early shapes before the hand carving work begins. During the interview, Debbie talked about the magic of the creative process: the satisfaction of beginning with a humble block of wood and forming it into something beautiful and recognisable. The turning point, Debbie explained, is the moment the eyes are put in.
‘I began carving rocking horses because I thought I would never be able
to afford to buy my own’ Debbie told us. This year, Debbie’s range of
toddlers' rockers has gone on sale in Harrods. As a small business
journey, this is one of the most inspiring we've heard, and at Simply
Business we’re pleased to be a very small part of it.
For more information about Debbie's work, including how you can purchase a rocking horse, visit the Jolly Rockers website.