Who is Hugo?

Rebecca De Jager, Huog's Workshop
Rebecca De Jager, Owner of Hugo's Workshop

Probably the first question I get asked is ‘Who is Hugo?’!

Perhaps it’s because most people assume that anything to do with woodwork and carpentry takes place in a dusty old workshop by a man in scruffy overalls with a pencil tucked behind his ear.

The reality couldn’t be further than the truth!

Hugo is actually the name of my eldest little boy. The whole business idea started when I was at home with him on maternity leave. Like lots of mums, I found myself wondering if I wanted to go back to my nine to five job in the office and was starting to think about how I could make it happen. I was a bit sceptical, I mean, a lot of people want to make a living working from home but you need to have a really fantastic idea, and you need to make something that’s a little bit different, something that people will really love.

An Unusual Gift

As I sat pondering this in between the night feeds and the dirty nappies, my husband came home from work with a big grin and a pretty unusual surprise for me.   

A romantic city break for the pair of us?

A spa day to give me back some ‘me time’?

His credit card so I could go and buy some new post baby clothes that actually fitted?

Nope, he came back from a trade show he had visited that day with the news that he had bought me a wood carving machine that was a perfect fit for our home office under the stairs!

(I should explain that my husband is in the construction industry where he started out as a carpenter, and has always had a passion for beautiful pieces of wood, specifically oak. We have several oak pieces of oak furniture at home and I absolutely love the beauty of the grain, strength and quality of the wood and the gorgeous natural colours)

Hugo's Workshop Is Born

So I had a workshop under the stairs, a new carving machine… suddenly I was a step nearer to realising my dream of working from home. I just needed to find an idea for a product that people would find useful.

Looking around my home I realised that the answer was staring me in the face! Photo frames!

Like all first time mums, I had taken hundreds, if not thousands of photographs since my baby was born. I’d also increased my social circle and was getting invited to yet more christenings and weddings which I wanted to buy thoughtful gifts for. Putting the two things together I hit upon a brainwave. Personalised photo frames!

So I set out to find a UK based manufacturer of solid oak frames for me to practice my carving techniques on. I found a supplier based in Yorkshire where they create them onsite. I made a few prototypes and gave them as gifts to friends. They were a massive hit! Friends then began to order them, then I started to get repeat orders. Then people who had received one as a gift started to order them too, either to give as gifts or to complement the ones they had received. It just spiralled.

But just as things were really taking off, I had to take a break.

My husband and I were keen to add to our family but I was having lots of problems with recurrent miscarriages and needed to concentrate on my health. We were fortunate enough to get some wonderful treatment from our amazing NHS and our second son Louis was born in November 2015. I decided to reopen Hugo's Workshop when Louis turned one and was blown away by the response from my old customers.

They were delighted I was back.

This has given me the boost to relaunch Hugo's Workshop with some awesome new products and ideas. 

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