Q & A with Emmanuelle Bastide-Wilson, Managing Director at Dovetailors

Emmanuelle co-founded Dovetailors with her husband David and leads the operational side of the business. Her leadership role increasingly involves her enabling and inspiring others, particularly the senior leadership team, as they work together to develop the business. We caught up with her to find out more about her role.

Describe your job in one sentence

I enable the business and its people so that they can direct the growth of the company in the best direction.

What does that involve on a day-to-day basis?

Most of my role is people mentoring and management and I also focus heavily on developing the best company structure and processes. While everyone else is busy designing and making in the workshop, I am looking at the big picture and making sure we are ready for the next step by being as agile as possible.

How did you get started at Dovetailors?

David started making things in our shed and had success making things for people. The business took off and I stepped in to handle the business side of things. I had always wanted to start my own business so it was a great opportunity for me. I had worked for an international wool trader and that have me experience in how business works.

It turned out to be a perfect combination. My mind for organising and management matched with David’s passion for furniture design and manufacturing meant we had all the elements of a successful enterprise. I studied to Masters level in International Law and that has definitely helped me when it comes to understanding information, analysing it and researching whatever is needed to help the business, whether that’s marketing, sales, management, finance, health and safety or compliance and governance. If it isn’t directly design and manufacturing them it’s probably my job! 

What makes Dovetailors unique?

Like a dovetail joint we slot in with customers to work out what is best, paying attention to their needs.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the business over the years?

The technology we use. We started without any CNC, just standard machinery, and the furniture we made was all hand-crafted.  The arrival of CNC technology has really stepped up the production.

Customers didn’t really use emails whe we started out and a lot more of the conversations we had with them was in person. Now with email, social media, even online ordering, everything is very different.

Another thing that has changed is the type of work we do. We started out doing mostly bespoke furniture whereas now we are much more design and B2B focused. We are involved in a lot of R & D that gets transformed into products. We also have more people. We started off as 2 and are now 15. We began in a shed and now operate from two industrial units.

Where do you see the company in 5 years time?

I envisage us having a team of people that can research and discuss projects and direction independently. We have many skilled employees and we want them to become more skilled and more independent. I’m very proud of the diverse ad complementary skills we have in the business and I am keen to nurture those talents.

From a customer perspective, I would like to be providing top of the range services to other businesses and furniture designers, in order to allow them to develop their products and continue to produce batches. I’m really excited to see further work happening on our bespoke designs and product lines.

What’s your favourite thing in the workshop and why?

The team. I’m a people person and our workshop is full of different people from  diverse backgrounds each with their own unique ideas and perspectives. It’s a fantastic melting pot of creativity and innovation with everyone showing willingness to try new things and learn. I really enjoying supporting them and enabling them to develop and grow. 

When you’re not at work what do you enjoy doing?

I am usually busy looking after the children. David and I have four children, although only two live at home now. When I can find time I enjoy growing herbs in the front garden and I volunteer at the United Reformed Church doing youth group and family work. It’s a great way to meet new people.

I like listening to podcasts on cooking and philosophy and love cooking and baking. I’m very popular when I bring a cake to work. One day I’d like to learn the piano.

What’s the best thing about Yorkshire? 

I love the people and the Yorkshire dales, particularly the colours of nature in the countryside from blue to rust and green.

Describe Dovetailors in 3 words

Exciting. Contemporary. Attentive.