Jarek Wawryk has lived and worked in Blackpool for 14 years. Many of the jobs he has undertaken have revolved around his woodworking and carpentry skills.
Originally from Poland, Jarek stays in regular contact with his friends and family. Several years ago one of his close friends in Poland started making and supplying ashes caskets. His friend asked Jarek to help find customers in the UK. Jarek had never dabbled in “sales” work previously but to help his friend out he decided he’d give it a go. Gradually he helped build a successful business selling to local independent funeral homes.
A few years later, Jarek’s friend was suddenly taken ill and passed away. Devastated, Jarek began the process of contacting the businesses he had helped supply, explaining the situation and advising them to find new suppliers. The local businesses were sad to hear the news and many asked whether Jarek would be able to take over and make the items locally.
After much thought about whether continuing the business would seem a little disrespectful, Jarek decided that he would like to honour his friend’s memory and continue the relationships he’d worked so hard to build. At first he searched for another supplier of caskets in the UK and in Europe but struggled to find the same high quality.
So Jarek decided he would have to make the caskets himself. To make it happen he had to change his job and find some funding to buy equipment and machines. As a time-served carpenter he had lots of hand tools but no large machines that would allow him to make quality items at scale.
Jarek said, “I was struggling to find how I could fund my new business. A friend mentioned the Get Started team at Blackpool Council and explained that they could help. I met with one of the team’s Small Business Advisers and she helped me through the process of putting a written business plan and financial forecast together in order to apply for a government start-up loan”.
The application was successful and Jarek used the money to invest in the machines he needed and secure a workshop. From his small industrial unit in Blackpool, Jarek is working hard to build the business to the point where he can give up his part-time job and concentrate fully on producing his lovingly-made caskets, keepsakes, candleholders and grave markers for the funeral market. He’s also applying his woodworking skills to new markets, crafting beautiful items in wood for boutique shops and private hotels.
Jarek has customers up and down the UK including Preston Council and Northwich Council crematoriums – both of which order Jarek’s ashes caskets for their customers.
Jarek said “I’ve been up and running now for over a year and my business is slowly building. For now I continue to work part-time shifts at the hospital to ensure a steady, regular income for my family. I will celebrate my 50th birthday this year and I would love to find more regular buyers and turn my part-time passion into a full-time business. I know it will happen. I’m absolutely determined to build the business to honour my friend. Ideally in the future I would like to take on an apprentice and a member of staff. Providing work for local people would be a great achievement that I would be very proud of.”
Cllr Mark Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Enterprise and Job Creation, said:
“I am delighted that once again the Get Started team has been able to provide advice and support to a local start-up business. Jarek is just one of many entrepreneurs choosing to launch their business in and around Blackpool and it’s exciting to feel the energy and dynamism in the area.
“I wish Jarek every success with his business and would encourage anyone thinking about starting a new venture to give our business team a call.”