Benjamin Edmonds set up his business, Blok Knives, in 2012 after stumbling across a YouTube video. Now, his products are attracting worldwide attention.
The reluctant entrepreneur, winner of a FedEx Small Business Grant UK in 2017, told Business Advice all about his unique journey.
(1) Who are you and what’s your business?
My name is Benjamin Edmonds and I’m a knife maker. I own a company called Blok Knives. We hand-make kitchen knives in our workshop, situated at the World Heritage site of Darley Abbey Mills in Derbyshire.
(2) How long have you been around for?
I have been making knives for around five years. It all came from a want to learn a new skill and take on a new challenge.
(3) How do you make money?
At Blok Knives we hand make between four and six kitchen knives per day, before sending these knives all over the world. Our current waiting list for a knife is 13 months. Our core business is hand-making kitchen knives. We have also recently started our own range of clothing – ethically sourced garments hand-printed ten miles down the road.
(4) What makes you different and why should people take notice?
Each knife we make is hand made – from the grinding of the blade, the application of the handle and the final finish and packing. We work with our customers, allowing them to pick handle material, mosaic pins and even custom etching on the blades.
(5) What was key in terms of getting started?
It actually all started with a YouTube video. I’ve always been fascinated with making, building and dismantling things. Every now and again I find myself watching random videos of people doing the same. Five years ago I watched one that really caught my eye. It was a young chap in his dad’s garage making a knife from an old file. It just so happened that I’d come to the end of a project and wanted something new to sink my teeth into. Making a knife seemed like a good option.
(6) What’s your biggest achievement to date?
We’ve had some amazing opportunities since being involved in making knives. We’ve had TV appearances, made knives for some of the world’s best chefs and appeared in most of the top publications. But for me, it was seeing one of our knives being used as a prop in a food magazine. I know that sounds odd but, for me, having our knives as a go-to tool in the industry is a massive achievement.
(7) What setbacks have you had along the way?
Knife making isn’t your obvious career path, not that it was ever intentional. But the early days were consumed with breaking, burning and cutting. A lot of trial and error took place in the first year. Learning how to make a knife is one thing, but trying to understand your materials is another. It took a lot of patience and many late nights.
(8) In five years’ time, I will be…
Continuing to develop new skills, pushing the Blok Knives brand out globally and most of all, having fun.
(9) What one tip would you give to others starting out?
Ask as many questions as you can. Don’t take everything to heart. Keep pushing and don’t stop. Hard work always pays off (regardless of how cheesy that phrase may be).
(10) Who are your business heroes and why?
This is an odd question for me, as I see myself as a knife maker, not a business man. However, I met a chap when I first started out called Jimmy Cregan. He makes iced coffee. He has taken his concept of making coffee on his hob at home to selling it across the globe. His approach to business has seen him speaking alongside Richard Branson. His model is fun, inspiring and most of all, effective. Check out Jimmy’s Ice Coffee (it’s blooming tasty as well, which always helps).
If you’ve found the Blok Knives story inspiring, check out the former Innocent Drinks duo making waves with their own drinks brand.
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