Newtownabbey Man establishes Rustic Abbey Furnishings during pandemic

Ross (pictured above right) received business advice and mentoring through The Go For It Programme from Business Adviser Peter Weir (pictured above left)

Q & A with Newtownabbey man Ross Duncan of Rustic Abbey Furnishings, a bespoke furniture company.

Q. Did you always aspire to be self-employed

A. No, not really. I was content being employed. It was relatively stress-free and I was receiving a regular wage. When I started to make and sell small pieces of furniture during lockdown, I realised that I could make a better living by starting my own business, provided I put the work in.

Q. How long did you have your business idea before meeting with a Business Adviser to discuss?

A. About a week!!! My partner and I had always said we’d love to be self-employed but never really gave it much more thought than that! During lockdown I was pottering about, making things. I began researching ways to fund this new business idea, found that there were options open to me so decided to “go for it!

Q. What does your business do?

A. We make bespoke furniture from reclaimed timber and live edge timber slabs. We now enjoy making epoxy resin river tables. We will make anything you want as long as it is physically possible!


A few of Ross’s bespoke creations above.  Items range from chopping boards to kitchen tables and everything in between!

 Q. Are you happy that you went into self-employment?

A. Yes, I am in charge of my own future. The harder I work, the more I will get out of the business. I find the work extremely rewarding!  I am making furniture such as dining tables and beds from wood, which would otherwise have been thrown into the skip! I love the flexibility of self-employment.  I have nobody to answer to, only my customers!  If I need to start work late or finish early to work around the kids, I can do so.

Q. If you were to give one piece of advice to someone starting up what would it be?

A. Do it! Take the plunge. It’s better than having a big “What if” hanging over your head!

Q. Was the Go For It programme beneficial to you? If so, how?

A. The Go for It programme was great! My business adviser, Peter, was superb. He completed so much of the groundwork for me. The ideas he gave me were top drawer!  The business support programme gives you the opportunity to think about things in a very practical manner.  We covered things which I’d otherwise never have thought of.

Q. What was the best part of the programme?

A.  I would say;

  • Getting into the nitty gritty!

  • Having the opportunity to bounce ideas off somebody else.

  • Receiving a professionally structured business and marketing plan. 

Q. How did you finance your business?

A  Initially I was going to run the business as a part-time venture.  I planned to fund it by taking out a business loan through Start-Up Loans.  By chance or, perhaps by luck I was then offered a voluntary redundancy.  This meant that I no longer had to take out a loan; I was able to fund the business myself.

Q. Where do you see your business in 5 years time?

A. Hopefully trading online or simply on a larger scale.

Get in touch!! If you are interested in exploring the idea of self-employment, like Ross did, then simply contact us and a member of our team will be in touch within one working day.

Rustic Abbey Furnishings can also be found on Instagram @rusticabbey