When I first started UNIQ, I registered with a Worcestershire scheme called ‘Enterprising Worcestershire’. The scheme supports start-ups and post start-up businesses in the form of grants, business mentors and free support through a variety of courses ranging from bookkeeping to social media, marketing, business planning and many more. I was fortunate to receive a grant which helped me purchase a computer and ancillaries for my office for which I was extremely grateful!
Each year, Enterprising Worcestershire organise a business awards and ceremony, celebrating the best of new business in Worcestershire. I put UNIQ forward for two categories and was honoured to be nominated in both the New Business and Creative Business
Follow the link below for more information……….
On Friday 13th November 2015 I attended the Worcestershire LEP Annual Conference along with 400+ other delegates.
The annual conference aims to inform and engage business delegates including public and third sectors to hear first-hand about recent progress and priorities for the future of Worcestershire’s long term prosperity and the support available for local businesses to enable everyone to be a part of future growth.
The proceedings were hosted by BBC Midlands Today presenter, Mary Rhodes, and featured respected guests from many specialist fields including keynote speaker, Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Although I felt a little ‘out of my league’ at the conference it again proved to be a great networking opportunity. The day, although not directly beneficial to my business; was fascinating, informative and even entertaining!
As a ‘mind and body wake-up’ delegates were taught and took part in a New Zealand Hakka as you can see in the photos below.
On Sunday 6th September I excitedly took part in my first Worcestershire Festival of Business, organised by Twitter’s #Worcestershirehour founder Stuart Allen, attended by local MP Harriett Baldwin and supported by a range of high profile and small businesses. Leading up to the festival I was honoured to be nominated for an award for the ‘Best use of Twitter’ by a small business. Although I didn’t win the award, I made a number of great contacts and as a networking opportunity, the day was invaluable! I also had the opportunity to showcase my furniture for which I received much positive feedback!
As a piece of advice to any new business/start-up, I’d say if an opportunity arises like this, jump at it! Even if you think it will not directly benefit your business; it is really important to get your face known, your products seen and you never know who you might bump in to! For me it was a beauty queen! More importantly, the hotel manager, who had six ‘bedrooms worth’ of furniture, destined for landfill to give to me!
On Wednesday 24th June, the UK’s first National Upcycling took place, promoted by Gumtree; as part of National Recycling Week (22nd – 29th June) , aiming to inspire the British public to tap into their creative juices, do away with standard flat pack furniture and find unique treasures in need of a new lease of life.
I started the day in my garden, watering my plants, and spotted an initially uninspiring old plastic watering can with a large hole in the base. As soon as I saw it, I decided there and then that although a real challenge, it was a prime candidate for an upcycle and took it to my workshop to consider my options! I started by cutting it into parts, leaving only the ‘remains’ below! I then went about building a ‘shed tidy’ from the parts plus a range of bits and pieces found lurking in my workshop! The result was a wall mounted one off product which could be used to hang/store a whole range of items in ‘dad’s’ shed! I did this one was just for fun and to enter into the spirit of the day, with the results tweeted to my followers, Gumtree and fellow upcyclers!
Grand Designs Live – May 2015
May 2015 saw me at the Grand Designs Live show at London’s Excel, as part of ‘Remade in Britain’s, Salvage Workshop.
The show, hosted by TV’s Kevin McCloud, features a wide range of retailers and organisations offering everything you need to start your own Grand Design/home build, from products to inspiration, expert advice and demonstrations.
As well as giving an upcycling demonstration, I lead two, one-hour workshops where members of the public each made an iPad stand using reclaimed timber from an old school lab bench top. The workshops were very successful with 24 iPad/phone stands being made in just two hours!
UNIQ at The Great Home Hack at Fulham Palace
Having only started the business in August 2014, I’d like to think that in a short time, I have established a reputation for quality and individuality in the growing area of Upcycling across the UK. In March 2015 i was asked to take part in the first ‘Great Home Hack’ at Fulham Palace, London.
The show sponsored by Brancott Esate Wines and hosted by celebrity upcycler, Max McMurdo (Dragons Den/Kirstie Allsops – Fill Your House for Free/Shed of the Year) showcased the top upcycling craftspeople and designers from across the UK. I exhibited and sold a range of my products at the show and made a number of great contacts with many of the countries up and coming creatives.
UNIQ, The Story So Far …………
Written by Andrew Smith, UNIQ Furniture
UNIQ Furniture was founded in August 2014, when I was made redundant from my 28 year teaching career. I had taught Design and Technology in a variety of secondary schools across the UK, including Bexleyheath, Chipping Campden, Gloucester, Evesham and Malvern.
I took my redundancy as a positive opportunity to start my new business, utilising my design and practical skills. Throughout my career I’ve worked on a wide variety of projects both with students and personally, including hovercraft, kit cars, guitars, garden design, a summerhouse, wood turning and many, many more, using a wide range of materials, tools and equipment.
I’ve never been short of ideas;
time and money, yes;
Along with the engineering apprenticeship/education which I completed on leaving school and my many years of teaching up to A Level, I’ve had a go at most things!
Throughout my teaching career, I became aware of the large amounts of good quality, usable furniture which was disposed of by both schools and business. Furniture which often ended up in landfill via skips!
UNIQ was established with the aim of saving as much of this quality furniture as possible. Refurbishing it, restyling it, upcycling it for a new domestic life, producing high quality items for domestic use and offerering schools and business a greener alternative when refitting, rebuilding and renewing their premises.