"An Oakleaf franchise is so flexible"

Operations Director Amanda Feather at Oakleaf enjoys the freedom that operating the period mouldings franchise has given her.

n the decade that she has worked for Oakleaf, Amanda Feather has seen her job at the company progress alongside that of the barn she has been converting over the same period.

"Before joining Oakleaf I had taken great interest in my husband's DIY projects and we have been spending the past few years renovating a derelict barn, making it into a home," explains Amanda.

"I have picked up a lot of experience and knowledge and I understand the Oakleaf system from start to finish. As a result, I am able to deal with tradesmen with complete confidence.

Amanda started working for Oakleaf in June 2000, as head office manager, but she soon realised the potential of getting out on the road and taking product samples directly to customers who she had met at local shows, recognising the importance of allowing close inspection of the products from day one.

Amanda frequently visits customers with her husband, who is now one of Oakleaf's most experienced fitters, to assess the situation and explain any technical issues to the customer. While there is no obligation, Amanda finds that most customers are so impressed by the photos of completed jobs and the product samples they invariably order a fully-fitted job.

"The great thing about the Oakleaf franchise is that it's very flexible and offers plenty of freedom to do other things you want to do," she says. "Anyone can do it and fit it in around their lives - it doesn't have to be a full-time commitment. For instance, I operate the franchise during the evenings and at weekends, and this fits in well with work on my barn conversion and looking after two horses, 70 sheep and 17 chickens!"

Oakleaf products are manufactured at the company's factory in West Yorkshire and can be matched to meet all budgets, ranging from beams to bespoke cabinetry, whose doors can conceal everything from a wine cellar to a home cinema.

"It is a very universal product and because it is so much lighter it is easier to fit than wood, meaning a makeover can be done in a day," says Amanda. "My husband and I have Oakleaf products in our almost-finished barn conversion and they appear to have literally put a roof over our heads! Many of our friends cannot believe that the beams in the roof are not real until I point out that the barn had no roof when we bought it!"

What's more, a number of Amanda's friendships have come from working at Oakleaf.

"The best thing about running my Oakleaf franchise is that I've found there's a real social element to it as well. I've met some wonderful people and I've often been invited back once a job is over for dinner and they have become my friends," laughs Amanda.

Reported by Fraser McKay