A furniture renovation and upcycling business is the talk of the village after a record-breaking first day in Shenstone, with highest ever sales and an eight-week waiting list for workshop spaces.
Emily Clark welcomed more than 150 people through the door on Saturday, March 11 – her first day of trading at the new Emily Charlotte Furniture Renovations and Ceramics store in Main Street.
It was a record sales day for the three-year-old business, which was previously based in Tamworth, and there is already a two-month waiting list for the workshop programme, which teaches a variety of upcycling skills including beginners’ furniture painting, upholstery, fused glass, leaded glass and ceramic painting.
Although it’s only her first week of trading in the new location, Emily is already looking to extend the workshop programme and take on more members of staff to cope with the demand.
Based in the former Tiaras and Flowers store, Emily Charlotte sells renovated furniture, homewares and gifts, as well as offering restoration, repair and upholstery services. There’s also a ceramics studio for pottery painting and a large teaching space where the workshops are held.
Anyone interested in getting creative is invited to a free demonstration evening from 6pm on Saturday, April 15, when industry experts will be showcasing their work and sharing top tips on the art of furniture painting, upholstery, fused glass and ceramic painting.
Emily said: “We were hoping for a busy launch, but it has exceeded all of our expectations, with more sales in one day than we have ever had before. We have also been inundated with requests for our workshop sessions, so we will be looking to add more classes as soon as possible.
“We needed a bigger store than the one we had at Florascape Garden Centre in Tamworth to cope with increasing demand and to enable us to extend our services. Shenstone seemed like the perfect location, but I think we underestimated just how creative the people of Shenstone are! We’re looking forward to helping people brush up on their upcycling and renovation skills.”
In addition to selling her own upcycled furniture, Emily has handpicked a number of local artists whose handmade creations are on sale in the Shenstone store. These include fused glass, jewellery, ceramics, bunting and reclaimed furniture.
Now aged 26, Emily already has several years of experience in running a business, having started her first venture at the age of 22 while studying an art and design degree at the University of Birmingham.
She’s already made a name for herself in the industry, having worked with TV furniture designer Nessa Doran O Reilly, from Gok Wan’s Fill Your House for Free, on a 12-week project with young people in supported accommodation. Emily was also invited to exhibit her work at Birmingham Library during the launch of the new building and has recently been asked to mentor students at the University of Birmingham following her own business success.
Although she’s always had the upcycling bug, having painted her first piece of furniture at the age of 10, the business was born when Emily was required to start an enterprise as part of her degree work.
Emily had just kitted out her first house with second-hand furniture that she had restored or transformed and, after receiving lots of positive comments about her designs, decided to turn this into a business venture.
The idea took off and Emily started working from a university-owned unit in Digbeth, where she was holding corporate workshops, teaching the skills she had learned as part of her degree. Funding from the university’s Eco by BCU fund meant Emily was able to turn the project into a viable business venture.
The next step came in 2014 when Emily had the opportunity to rent a unit at the Florascape Garden Centre and the young entrepreneur was soon running her furniture renovation business full-time, while studying for her degree at the university.
Now with her art and design qualification and several years of business experience under her belt, Emily decided the time was right to further expand by moving to the larger shop in Shenstone.
“Looking back, I guess it was hard work studying while running a business full-time, but I never really thought about it at the time,” Emily said. “I think doing something you love is half the battle. Art and design was the only subject I was ever interested in at school and I was always crafting at home. I painted my first piece of furniture at the age of 10 and my grandparents have a whole dining set of ceramics that myself and my sister painted as children.”
The shop in Shenstone has been completely refurbished throughout and is now full of lovingly restored treasures, with all work done by Emily and her three members of staff.