#UHLB17

Last weekend I took part in the two-day Upcycled Hour Live event (#UHLB17) at the Unitarian Church in Brighton and where better to stage such an event than a city that boasts the country’s only Green Party MP.

The Upcycled Hour, created by the inspirational Chris Billinghurst, started life as a weekly Twitter forum for professional upcyclers around the UK giving us a platform to exchange ideas, advice and information.

Since its inception, the group has steadily grown, going from strength to strength and this year’s Upcycled Hour Live on the 16 & 17th June aimed to build on the success of the 2016 maiden event.

Footfall was a little disappointing, particularly on the Friday evening. Although there were an estimated 600+ visitors on the Saturday, a venue just off Brighton’s famous Lanes has the potential to attract an even bigger crowd. It was the hottest Saturday of the year and I suspect this did not particularly work in our favour. Days like that are rare and I don’t blame people for heading to the pub, beach and green spaces rather than browsing the shops.

In addition, despite the organiser’s best efforts to direct shoppers through to the back room, those of us with stands there noticed a marked difference in visitor numbers with only one major sale in the back room all weekend. However, Upcycled Hour Live was not just about sales; it was an opportunity to raise the profession’s profile, network with our peers, encourage increased upcycling and discuss potential commissions.

It was great to finally put a face to the furniture – pieces that were so familiar through social media – and to share our experiences.

UHLB1710Siren Designs (in the backroom) produce amazing decoupage statement pieces that attracted a lot of interest and a group of us discussed the pros and cons of playing it safe with neutral colours versus letting our imagination go wild. Most of my work is commissioned pieces but I do sell at a monthly market and at my own quarterly artisan’s event, so my on-spec furniture usually falls into the neutral category. However, looking at the other stands at UHLB17 I realised that whilst my work is well executed and tasteful, it is not particularly vibrant. Watching visitor browsing habits as they entered the room, I could see that the majority made a beeline to the more colourful items and I have decided that I need to create a wow-factor piece that possibly won’t sell but will attract attention, hopefully causing punters to stop and check out the rest of my stock.

UHLB1733
Chalky Chic’s Upcycled Crates and Bottle Lamps

All things considered, I’m glad I took part in the Upcycled Hour Live and believe the experience has encouraged me to raise my game. Click on the following links for further information about both the Upcycled Hour and the Upcycled Hour Live.

 

Pitching Up for Not On The High Street

noths-logoLast week I drove the 80 miles to Leicester to pitch to Not On The High Street. It was an interesting although sadly unsuccessful experience. The event was held at St Martin’s House, a converted grammar school in the heart of the city.

Attendees were each given a 10-minute slot to pitch their product or idea to a team of experienced Not On The High Street staff and the crowded waiting area was mainly full of bright young things each hoping that their creation was going to wow the buyers and secure them a space in this highly successful marketplace.

Although I love what I do and believe in my product 100%, I wasn’t overly confident that it is right for Not On The High Street and so went along with few expectations under the premise that it would be good experience and useful to get some professional feedback on my upcycling business. The experts liked my product too but advised that I needed to be able to offer the same item in a range of colours and perhaps with an option for customers to provide their own fabric for upholstery.

benchbrochureOccasionally I will have a limited edition of the same item such as my upholstered benches or lime-washed crates, but on the whole each item is unique and upcycled to make the most of its features.

That is the beauty of a piece from Chalky Chic – it is a world away from mass produced, catalogue or flat-packed furniture.

Going To Market

My first flea market was a cautious success – I sold one item of painted furniture, a vintage board game, some fabric off-cuts and a bunch of old 78 rpm records – but then I have nothing to gauge this against.

I guess I should be pleased that I even broke even on my first trip to market, let alone made a healthy profit!

I shared the stall with fellow furniture painter Indigo Flip who was a first-timer too. There was a steady footfall throughout the day although regular traders commented on how quiet it was. Another furniture painter there said that she normally cleans up at these monthly markets so it would seem that perseverance is the key here. Next time I will be better prepared and now that I know the stall’s limitations of can plan my staging in advance.

The most promising encounter of the day happened before I’d even finished setting out my stall when a fellow trader asked me the price for my entire stock…

As it happens he felt my price was too high for him to make a profit selling on, but I’m glad I stuck to my guns as it proved that there is a market for my work.