Inspiring Enterprise | Startup
Artist uses his skills to brighten people’s homes
Chris Raquet, owner of Upcycled and Arty is a very creative entrepreneur. Making all kinds of Art throughout his life he graduated from university with a first-class honours degree in Fine Art (sculpture). Lacking the space to make large work, he concentrated on his passion for drawing and painting, and his business initially comprised painting portraits and figurative pieces.
The idea for Upcycled and Arty came from moving into a new home, as Chris says,
“Finding nice furniture that isn’t terribly expensive and/or plastic covered mdf is really hard, and so for me it seemed logical to buy old damaged and unwanted furniture which, given some work, could be transformed into something unique and beautiful.”
Finding restoring and upcycling enjoyable and being pleased with the results he decided to turn his new hobby into a business venture.
“With upcycling I can use my artistry skills as well as my woodworking skills and create unique pieces of furniture for a discerning market. It’s important to me that I can make beautiful things to brighten up any home.”
Chris was concerned about starting a business, not knowing where to turn for advice. A Google search led him to the Local Enterprise Partnership who were very helpful in referring him onto Inspiring Enterprise where he was put in contact with Enterprise Specialist, Julie Stevenson. He is full of praise for Julie,
“Julie cut through all the waffle and gave me precise information so that I was confident I was aware of all the rules and considerations with regards to the legalities of setting up a business, tax implications and much more. She provided me with a clear process and all the necessary tools so that when I start selling, everything will be in place. She has taken away the fear of uncertainty that comes with not knowing what to do.”
Testing the market
At first, Chris set up a small stall to sell his furniture in Robin’s Nest Emporium, Fareham, close to his home. Finding an empty stall by chance and diving straight in ended up being a useful exercise as it suddenly created a deadline to get many items of furniture ready for sale and injected a vast amount of energy into the business’s beginning.
However, he felt that the shop was somewhere customers would go for smaller impulse buys and less frequently for his furniture products. He has now decided to build his business by using online shopfronts such as Etsy and Facebook Marketplace and forgo the cost of the high-street.
“Placing my goods online makes sense. I think people are getting more used to purchasing online than visiting a shop. I am able to deliver within a short distance if needs be and it means I don’t have to pay a shop commission.”
His business tip for people wanting to start a business is simple,
“Just go for it! Rather than thinking can I do it? Start doing and then add on all the rest one bit at a time!”
WSX Enterprise Ltd is a business support organisation delivering a range of start-up, business growth and digital skills projects across the UK.
Their Inspiring Enterprise project ran from 2016 until 2023 in Hampshire and Surrey. Our team of experts advised, mentored and supported over 1000 people to find a better future by moving them into self-employment, employment or training.
The project is currently not taking any new enquiries and will finish in April 2023.
It was funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and the European Union European Social Fund.