Restoration & Creation on Paisley’s Browns Lane is supporting shoppers, backing business and saving furniture from landfill.
“We got carried away with chairs; it was never meant to be chairs,” jokes Caroline Sweeney, a former globetrotting IKEA manager now running her own home interiors and upcycling business in Paisley.
She adds: “IKEA was probably one of the best companies in the world ever to work for. I spent 20 years living and working abroad in the Middle East and across Europe.
“I always missed Scotland and I wanted to come home and run my own business.
“Customers at IKEA were looking for more sustainable furniture and for something custom-made, something they couldn’t get anywhere else so that’s what I have focused my business on.”
A creative hub
Caroline established Restoration & Creation on Browns Lane, a creative hub in the grounds of a former stables.
Alongside Caroline’s chairs, there’s exhibition, retail and making space as well as room to run a range of workshops.
Recent funding from the Council has enabled Caroline to welcome five more makers to base themselves at the hub, making and selling their handmade products.
This includes Sandra and Gary Nesbitt, aka BlackCat Upcyclers.
“Gary is the maker; I’m the artist,” explains Sandra, their combined talents put to upcycling furniture and making custom-made pieces for indoors and outdoors.
Sandra works for Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership supporting young adults with autism and complex learning disabilities.
Sandra says: “I would love to run workshops for people with learning disabilities and autism. I show them how to upcycle things and each year there’s an event selling what they’ve made. It’s so lovely seeing their faces light up at people buying their products.
Sandra met her husband Gary 11 years ago after he’d changed careers from joinery into healthcare.
Gary adds: “We love upcycling, and we feel it’s so important to show people what can be done with unwanted furniture or items heading for landfill. Moving to the hub gives us the opportunity for people to come in and see what we do and how we do it.”
Alongside Sandra and Gary’s workspace is Gryffe Casting Studio.
It’s run by Emma Lewis, a former hotel revenue manager, whose business sees her make casts of hands, baby bumps and capture family bonds.
Emma says: “I’m focusing myself as a family casting specialist, there’s so many variations and ways to capture special moments in life.
“I was working from the shed in my garden which meant my business was hidden away, and I missed the banter with colleagues from working in hotels.
“The camaraderie between us all at the hub is fantastic, we’re all aiming for the same goals and all supporting each other, sharing each other’s social pages, learning from each other, encouraging each other.”
Keeping tradition alive
For Kinda Zackry, being part of the hub is helping her to keep the tradition of porcelain painting alive.
Kinda learned about porcelain painting while living in Dubai, the process involving four firings in a kiln, each with 24 hours to cool down then up to four more days painting depending on the intricacy of the artwork.
“We didn’t have YouTube or other media, so after learning from a Japanese lady, I went on and bought lots of books and taught myself more and more,” says Kinda, who lives in Bridge of Weir.
“Moving into the hub I was scared as it’s my first time running my own business and being responsible for everything, but I feel ready to take that step.
“I want to grow, for everyone to know my name, to come here and to ask for a painting and I want to share my skills as nowadays there are fewer porcelain painters in the world so I’d like to help to keep it alive.”