Make Money from Upcycling Case Studies discussed by Eco Solutions
Upcycling has really gone up a notch in the last few years as we are becoming more and more aware of the impact of disposing of material things to go into landfill. Lots of people do it as a hobby but more and more people are finding innovative ways to make money from it. Our article includes some really useful Make Money from Upcycling Case Studies as well as some really important hints and tips for amazing techniques and products which will help you on this journey to make your upcycling projects easier and less time-consuming. Using Eco Solutions cleaning, coating removing and stripping water-based, non-toxic products will make your upcycling project easier, quicker and safer.
The Case Studies Source Links are included in this article.
How to Make Money from Upcycling Furniture [Side Hustle Case Study]
17/09/2019 by Boost My Budget
Here’s the next instalment in our side hustle case study series, where real people share how they make extra money in their spare time!
In this post, Steph from Debt Free Family is sharing her cool and creative side hustle – upcycling and selling second-hand furniture.
Here’s how she does it:
How to make money from upcycling & flipping furniture
Please tell us a little about yourself and your side hustle
I’m Steph, a mum of 3 and owner of Debt Free Family, a blog where I write about my family’s journey with money. One of the ways I’ve made some extra money over the last few years is by upcycling old furniture and then reselling it.
Sometimes I go and look for furniture and other times I just come across something that someone’s throwing out, but I always look for solid wood, well-made pieces, no matter what state they’re in!
How long have you been doing your side hustle? How did you get into it?
I first started upcycling furniture about 6 years ago. I didn’t plan on selling the pieces I upcycled to start with. I was furnishing our own home and couldn’t find the pieces I wanted at reasonable prices we could afford and I try not to add to the ‘throw-away’ culture of modern furniture.
When I found a beautiful old pine chest of drawers someone had badly covered in white paint, I knew I could sand it back and it’d be exactly what I was looking for!
Sanding that chest of drawers took me forever, but I’ve since learned some techniques to speed it all up a bit!
I actually sold that chest of drawers about 6 months after it was finished as I’d found another one that fits better in our house, and made £108 profit! I then realised this could be quite a lucrative side hustle that fits in beautifully around the kids’ busy schedules!
What does the work actually involve? What does a typical day/work session look like for you?
My upcycling ‘speciality’ is bringing old pieces of furniture back to their original glory. My favourite pieces of furniture are ones that were painted during the ‘shabby chic’ furniture phase of the early 2000s.
This was where people painted wooden furniture and then distressed it to make it look old. Done well, it can look beautiful. Done badly, it’s the perfect piece for me to upcycle!
Once I’ve found a piece I like, the first thing I do is make sure it’s solid wood. I do this by checking the joins and looking for chips and scratches. These often reveal what’s underneath the surface. I want it to be solid wood!
I then start to take off the old paint. I use a paint stripper these days, as sanding alone is time-consuming and really messy! You always need to be in a ventilated area when using a paint stripper, I wait for a dry day and do it in the garden, making sure no children or animals can get to it!
After the old paints off, I then use a rough sander to get all the last bits and pieces of paint off, followed by a fine sand until the wood is silky smooth.
Lastly, I use wax to seal the wood. Sometimes I replace drawer handles but I prefer to keep the pieces as close to its original state as possible.
How much can you make doing this side hustle?
That’s a hard question to answer as there are so many variables! If I can get a piece of furniture for a rock bottom price, or even better, free, then, of course, my profit is higher. The best places to get very cheap pieces are home clearance shops or charity shops. Occasionally they’ll be small pieces at car boot sales or friends will ask if I want something they’re about to chuck out!
As a rough guide, I make an average of £70/80 per item, and that’s after I’ve bought paint stripper and sanding pads.
Are there any start-up costs and/or ongoing expenses with this side hustle?
Although it’s not essential, having a sanding ‘mouse’ makes life a lot easier when you’re sanding your item. I’d suggest finding a small item to start with, something like a bedside table so you don’t need much paint stripper if that’s the way you decide to go. Wax to seal the wood is important and so make sure you get a decent one. It’s about £10 for a tin and they’ll last for about 3-4 small pieces of furniture.
That’s about it.
What advice would you give to somebody who wants to get started?
Start small and with a simply made item. I love old furniture that’s simple and functional, but there are so many different styles. Once you know what you’re doing on the basic pieces, find a style you love and you’ll enjoy working on every item.
HOW TO START A FURNITURE UPCYCLING BUSINESS
Part of upcycling can be simple refurbishment, and part of it is re-styling it. New covers, new coats of paint, and other new changes can make something old and worn down into something chic and modern. The business also scales nicely, letting you grow from a solo operation to a team, if necessary.
Learn how to start your own Furniture Upcycling Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
How to Make Money from Upcycling as a Business
Why should you make a business out of upcycling? If you’re a crafty person and love to make unique one of ‘a kind’ things, why not save the environment and make money while doing it. Upcycling involves taking waste materials and giving them a new life, think about all the money you will save by using items you were going to get rid of rather than buying materials. Using waste materials and selling the results reduces landfill and saves you money. If you’re thinking of starting a business using upcycled materials, here are a few tips to think about and help you on your way.
Things to Think About:
As a seller, you are not limited to only online or in person. Selling online may look easier, but can be just as difficult as selling at fairs.
Online Selling Pros:
Work from home
Cheap and easy to setup
No face to face customer interaction
Impersonal/people more likely to be rude or harsh
Managing shipping out products, and handling returns
If the website crashes you crash
Work from home half the time
Meet people, make connections, interact with the local community
More upfront selling and less worry about shipping
Travelling to events can be difficult if not prepared
Paying for show space
Will take longer for a consistent workflow
The best way to make your business grow is to sell both online and in person. Selling online will help you get a steady rate of customers, and sell to a larger audience. Whereas In person will help you make connections, and help you grow from a seller perspective.
Marketing is extremely important either way, and there are a variety of ways to get your business name out there. There are several ways to market your business, some of which are listed below.
Social Media like Facebook and Twitter.
Make YouTube videos possibly showing off a new product.
Make flyers and post at local community centres, schools, and other craft events.
Find small clubs or connection groups to help your business grow.
If you can try and make a logo for yourself, or find someone who can help you make one. Even a small business can use an icon that’s simple and recognizable for future reference.
Budgeting is often pushed aside by online sellers, but should always be factored in no matter where you sell. One thing you may want to consider are fees, transportation, and production cost. For example, events almost always have an entree fee or a space fee. Costs to consider include; how much will it cost to get your things there? (Gas) Are you paying someone to assist you at your booth, or is it a friend? And cost it took to make all the product you’re hoping to sell that day. Online websites always have a small fee for working with them, and often take a portion of the price of goods. For example, you price your upcycled lights at $10, and $1 of that goes toward the website you use. This is similar to a rent fee per piece. Don’t forget about shipping costs to send out and receive packages around the world; will you include shipping in the price of the product, or will you make customer pay to return the piece? Are you willing to pay for goods that were damaged due to shipping?
Now that we have covered the pros and cons of online vs. in person, how to market, and what needs to be budgeted for. Let’s talk about some additional things to consider, for example, partnership. Are you doing this alone or with a friend/partner/etc.? Are you splitting the payout with them, or have a business plan laid out in case of future growth? Are you both sharing a space to work at, or work separately at home? If sharing a space, be prepared to change spaces to work if someone decides to dip out. And most importantly, make sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to selling, and keep each other informed on everything.
- Remember not to bite off more than you can chew. Craft shows can be intimidating try to start off small before going off into the big leagues. It’s important to know your audience/product and understand seasonal changes. For example, maybe you will do better at the Christmas craft show coming up then Valentine’s Day one later on. On the other hand, can you put a spin on your product to make it worth it to go to a holiday-themed show? These shows tend to be more popular because people wait all year long for them.
- Practice what you’d like to say to customers before going out there. Know what you’d like to highlight in your product, and get comfortable with talking to strangers. We suggest making a practice set up of what your stand or booth will look like at home before going to the space.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help when setting up your website. It’s better to make sure everything is running right before loading it up with a product.
- Try not to spam out coupons and deals right off the bat because you aren’t selling immediately. Maybe you need to advertise more, or possibly rethink who you are trying to sell to.
- Posting updates on your social media or website is a great way to interact with customers and make them feel more welcome. Post about new ideas you have, ask what they like or what they want to see. People love interacting with artists. Possibly post a bit about your creative process, or how you make some of the items you sell.
How to Make Money from Upcycling – Making the Business Case
What started out as a side project taking landfill-bound materials and turning them into furniture quickly became a business for Jesi Carson and Theunis Snyman.
The duo runs Basic Design, a social enterprise housed in a studio at MakerLabs, a 26,000-square-foot Railtown workspace complete with laser cutters, 3D printers and other maker tools.
While the company produces unique pieces of furniture and products such as wallets and mobile phone cases out of second-hand materials, the business is really centred on redefining the value of waste.
“We just kind of began exploring with materials,” says Carson, who studied sustainability through Emily Carr University’s interaction design program. In discarded textiles and used pieces of wood, Carson and Snyman saw the potential for products that were beautiful, sellable and in line with their environmental ethics.
“We just started playing with them and kind of designed a product line together using these waste streams,” she says. “It led eventually to growing into a larger business.”
Turning waste into opportunity – According to the Vancouver Economic Commission, two-thirds of the 1.8 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste discarded in Metro Vancouver each year is recycled. The rest heads to the landfill.
In 2014, 370,000 tonnes of solid waste from Vancouver was sent to those landfills, and the city is taking steps to lower that figure.
They include the Green Demolition Bylaw, which requires certain homes built before 1940 to have 70 to 90 per cent of the waste produced during demolition diverted from landfills. It provides a lot of opportunity for those in the business of upcycling.
“More companies and more people who are doing construction are now actively looking for people to take this material off their hands. So in a way it is shifting and it is becoming easier. It’s definitely not as easy as going to Home Depot,” says Carson, before detailing the work involved in acquiring the right materials, from sourcing to travelling to de-nailing and prep work.
With an initial focus on wallets and bags, Basic Design has shifted to producing furniture out of reclaimed wood, either for individual clients or for larger organizations. The company’s first contract was with Vancouver’s Lupii Community Café, where everything from the food to the furniture embodies the owner’s zero-waste ambitions. Carson and Snyman also provided multiple tables to Simon Fraser University’s RADIUS (Radical Ideas, Useful to Society) social innovation lab.
Over the past year, Carson says Basic Design has tackled five or six projects, and with that has come on-the-job business education.
“I’m not a business person, I didn’t go to business school, but now I know how to do all my own accounting, and I know how to do my taxes properly, and I know how to do estimates,” says Carson, who also co-founded the Vancouver Trash Lab, which connects makers and designers with waste streams ripe for upcycling. “I feel really connected to that movement, but I think it’s a lot more diverse than people think it is.”
The artistry of upcycling, being a maker isn’t necessarily synonymous with being sustainability-minded, but there is some overlap between the values of the maker movement and those inherent to upcycling.
Just over a decade ago, California-based Dale Dougherty founded Make: magazine to cater to a growing community of traditional artisans and those with a passion for making and doing it yourself. He created the first Maker Faire in 2006, and in 2014, more than 135 Mini Maker, flagship and featured fairs around the world attracted about three-quarters of a million visitors.
In Vancouver – which will host its seventh annual Mini Maker Faire in 2017 – some local makers and designers have been able to couple their hands-on skill sets with sustainability-focused values. They’ve also been able to find a market for their wares.
“Twelve years ago, the term ‘upcycled’ wasn’t even a term,” says Melissa Ferreira, the designer behind Adhesif Clothing Co., which offers garments that are handmade from vintage fabrics and discarded clothing.
“Every single time I go on Instagram, it’s crazy how much I see happening globally. It’s so exciting for me to see it become this movement,” she adds.
Ferreira doesn’t consider herself a maker, but rather an artist first and a designer second. Through Adhesif, she presents two collections per year, each with a dozen pieces. The accessories sold from her Mount Pleasant storefront begin at around $49, whereas a coat can go for between $800 and $900.
She regularly sells out, and often to “diehard” repeat clients.
“That’s a testament … to our concept of quality over quantity. Really, we’re trying to promote conscious consumerism. We want our pieces to stand the test of time, unlike a lot of big-box chains that don’t, because they want you to keep coming back and buying more, more, more,” says Ferreira.
“It’s great because it’s given me the opportunity to really progress my brand and my label, and use it as a platform to talk about sustainability.”
Ferreira founded Adhesif a dozen years ago. She sources her materials from second-hand shops, thrift stores and through the vintage clothing network, she established as a buyer prior to entering into business for herself.
The sewing skills she learned from her mother, a seamstress; the emphasis on upcycling came from the exposure to the world of fashion afforded her by her previous position.
“If most people actually knew what was happening to their discarded clothing, they’d probably, like, flip their lids. It’s a massive industry,” says Ferreira, lamenting the wastefulness of the global fashion industry.
It’s that waste, however, that allows her to bring new meaning to the adage that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
“Using discarded textiles is just another medium; it’s like a collage artist using discarded paper or magazines,” she says. “The creative concepts are endless, really when you’re using found materials.”
‘Maker’ is becoming a household word – For Jacquie Rolston, combining sustainability with making is an endeavour she’s trying to pursue “semi-professionally.” Together with her collaborator, Lin Ho-You, the duo has been making lanterns for the Vancouver Folk Music Festival for more than a decade.
“Technically we were in the first Maker Faire, which was 2011,” adds Ho-You. With bamboo, paper, glue and a significant amount of time, the team behind Illuminiferous create candlelit lanterns on a volunteer or commission basis for clients that include the City of Surrey and Metro Vancouver.
“We just started moving into lamps, and those would go to individual purchasers,” says Rolston, who also works as an illustrator, artist and teacher. “We’re just seeing how we can take the lantern technique and make them meant for electronic, indoor lamp use. And I think there’s business potential here.”
“Most people don’t want a three-foot-by-four-foot light sculpture hanging from their ceiling,” adds Ho-You, who says some of the more complicated lanterns take upwards of 40 hours to complete and are meant for outdoor use. “There’s not really a market for that.”
Currently, in the exploration phase of commercializing a lantern-like household product, Illuminiferous is also pursuing ways to make such a product more sustainable – swapping out glue for beeswax, as an example.
“I love the fact that ‘maker’ is a word that’s getting a lot more use in common parlance,” says Ho-You. “It’s a great movement that encompasses so many great ideas, like working with your hands, making things instead of necessarily buying them, and a lot of the other people in the maker’s movement are also interested in sustainability issues.”
Such issues include life-cycle design and the cradle-to-cradle concept, which include thinking through what happens to a product at the end of its use, and building sustainable disposal or reuse into the product’s initial design.
Both concepts are deeply embedded into British Columbia Institute of Technology’s School of Construction and the Environment programs, according to instructor Dixie Hudson.
“I’ve been a designer for over 30 years, and I definitely caused a lot of damage to the planet and the buildings that I was designing for people,” says Hudson, who runs her own interior design business under D.Hudson Design Inc.
By encouraging students to reuse the materials they have, and by introducing almost exclusively sustainable materials into the classroom, Hudson hopes the next generation of builders will look at their work from a different perspective – one where, for example, the materials of a project at the end of its life are intended for repurpose by companies like Basic Design.
“What that does for the students is they recognize the value of reusing things, and not putting it in the landfill. All of a sudden they begin to see value in all of the discarded items,” says Hudson.
How to Make Money from Upcycling bottles, Jars and Much More
Upcycling is both fashionable and environmentally friendly. Today we have an interview with someone who’s built a business around uniquely crafted upcycled bottles and jars. It’s a great example of how craft skills and imagination can combine to create an income from an enjoyable hobby.
Joanna Toll is originally from Ranworth in the heart of the Norfolk Broads (UK). A few years ago, while exploring ways of making a little extra cash, she came up with the idea of turning upcycled bottles and jars into decorative items.
What gave you the idea for your business?
I always enjoyed art and studied it at A-level. As a teenager, I designed the sign for the village of Ranworth (in the UK).
I initially started making girls’ hair slides and took part in a craft event. I instantly fell in love with the “crafting circle” – that was three years ago now.
Tell us a bit about what you sell
The girls’ hair slides were limited in scope, so I researched and came up with an idea that I thought I’d not seen before – one that made use of objects that would normally be thrown away. That’s when I started decorating upcycled bottles and jars. I use a variety of materials and add fairy lights to enhance them.
I had never done anything like this before so it was all a learning curve – Working out what items sell well, what prices to sell items at – and even how to set up my display stall.
Did it cost you much to get started?
Very little – only a few pounds. The jars and bottles are things that other people discard so people are happy to pass on things they would otherwise have thrown away. I had to buy a few basic craft bits but this wasn’t expensive.
How has your business developed?
I wasn’t really sure how it would be received. I started a Facebook page and started selling on online auction sites like eBay.
I can still remember the feeling when I sold my first item. I still feel it now when somebody wants to buy something I made.
How has your business progressed?
Three and a half years on, there’s not a week that goes by when I don’t either receive an order or some inquiries about my products. It doesn’t seem real that my products are so popular.
It’s definitely exceeded my expectations. I have recently started selling my products in a couple of local shops too.
Selling upcycled bottles
Do you wish you had done anything differently?
I don’t regret any decisions that I made. I love what I do and how I’ve learned what works best. I certainly wouldn’t do anything differently.
How have your upcycled bottles and jars been received?
I have had a really positive response. I’ve had some lovely reviews – and, in turn, the word of mouth recommendations from satisfied customers have helped the business to grow. As well as upcycled bottles and jars, I have been commissioned to make individual pieces for customers. For example, I made a set of items for teachers’ end of term gifts. Many of my items are unique and one of a kind.
I don’t always get it right but that’s what makes it enjoyable – talking to other stallholders, getting tips from each other. It’s like a community, and we all look out for each other.
How does your work fit in with your family life?
The best thing about what I do is that I can work it all around my family and work life. I make everything myself and from home so it fits perfectly.
It’s not a full-time job. I also work nights in a care home so I have days available while the children are at school. It keeps me busy.
Has the business improved your standard of living?
I wouldn’t say it’s improved our standard of living as a family but it’s certainly given us the opportunity to top up to our income – and that allows us to have days out and treats.
What advice would you give to other people wanting to do something similar?
If anyone else is thinking of starting a business for themselves I’d probably say just go for it, otherwise, you’ll be forever wondering whether you should have done it.
I didn’t set out to make a business; I just saw something I thought I could make (and for a cheaper price), and I haven’t looked back.
I love every minute of it. I sometimes think it has to come to an end at some point but then I receive another like on my page, another nice message or another order.
Has there been a standout moment for you?
I think every order I make is a success – even if it’s just a small one.
However, I am especially proud of the large wedding orders I’ve completed. There’s nothing more special than having the privilege of making items for someone’s big day.
Shabby Chic Shack: How I started my upcycling business
Stacey Meile was on maternity leave after having her little boy. During this time she entered the ‘make it yours’ competition and realised her love for upcycling. She went on to launch her own business – Stacey’s Shabby Chic Shack shop. Here on Made it Yours she tells us about her journey and shares her top tips for upcycling success…
Tell us how you got started in the world of upcycling?
SM: I got started in the fantastic world of upcycling when my husband and I found two pieces of furniture at a nearby car boot sale some years ago and decided they looked good together. It was a piece of sideboard and the top of an old dresser – they stayed in their poor, ugly state in our kitchen for years until I decided one day to have a go at painting them. The end result was amazing and so many people told me I should go into business so I painted a few more pieces and found out that there is a real market for upcycled furniture.
What is it about making things unique that you love the most?
SM: I love that they are not something you can just buy off a production line. Each of my pieces are unique to me, I put so much love and effort into making something striking and different.
Where is your business based?
SM: Like many small businesses mine is currently based at home in Coventry, West Midlands — but I am hoping that will change soon!
What was the first piece you upcycled?
SM: The first piece I ever upcycled was two scrap pieces of furniture which I put together to create a dresser. I painted it using Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish Furniture Paint in Duck Egg and Antique White then sanded it for a shabby chic look. I entered this into the Rust-Oleum Make It Yours competition and won it was then I knew I had a talent for this and should continue.
What’s your all-time favourite piece?
SM: It has to be a set of farmhouse chairs I painted in Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish Furniture Paint in Pumpkin and Antique White. I used a decoupage technique to create a blue rose pattern to the seat and backrest — I now use these as bedside tables they’re very unique, which of course, I love!
What are your top 5 tips for people thinking about upcycling their furniture?
1. Don’t throw anything away! You’ll always find a use for it somewhere.
2. If you want to paint your furniture get a good set of paintbrushes designed for chalk paint.
3. Always turn the furniture upside and paint from top to bottom.
4. Always paint in a well-ventilated and light-filled area so you can see what you are doing.
5. Let your imagination run away with you! Nothing is out the question, you can always find a way to do something if you try hard enough!
Why do you use rust oleum paints for your projects?
SM: I have used many different brands now and always find Rust-Oleum is the best for me. I can mix the paints together to create the colours I need. I find Rust-Oleum has the best finish for me out of all the other brands I have tried.
What are your ambitions for the future?
SM: I would love to open up my own shop one day, somewhere to display my pieces to the public. I would eventually like to be able to hold workshops to show other people how they can create beautiful pieces for their home.
Upcycle Old Furniture for a Profit
There’s no doubt that most of us would like an extra way to earn more income. Stop binge-watching Netflix and use a couple of hours in the evenings to knuckle down and earn some dosh. Read the full article from Pardon My Blog here.
There seems to be an endless number of ways to earn some extra cash online, with the internet bursting at the seams with opportunities for web developers, proofreaders and bloggers. What if you are not technical or don’t want to spend yet more time in front of a screen? If you’re good with your hands then upcycling old furniture can be a fun and profitable hobby. Think about it – every charity shop, house clearance and skip have your raw materials in for a few pounds or even for free! The only drawback is that once you’ve worked your magic on an item, you might have difficulty selling them.
Furniture upcycling can actually become a full-time job once you’ve worked out how to sell your finished pieces. You might think you need a shop. Well, you don’t! You don’t need premises, you don’t even need much advertising; all you need is a spare room or garage and a Facebook Business page and maybe a Pinterest presence.
You don’t need mad artistic or creative skills… Of course, you need a certain amount of competence and vision, but if you’re upcycling, most of the design work has been done for you! If you are very creative or artistic, then that’s even better, but it’s not essential.
You must have heard the old adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” It couldn’t be truer in furniture upcycling. Start with family and friends and gather all their unwanted wares – for free. Find discarded furniture at places like thrift shops, Gumtree, house clearances, auctions, flea markets, freecycle, at the side of the road and at garage sales.
Something that is very important is learning to identify the quality of old furniture. You don’t want a dilapidated piece of wood that could be rotten, for example. You will not be able to sand and re-stain fake wood (veneers), as you’ll just end up with plywood.
When you start to upcycle, you need to start small. Look for unique pieces like small dressers, nightstands or sofa tables. Try to avoid a previously painted piece though, as you will slice some of your profits with the additional work that will be required to scrape, burn or dissolve off the paint.
But I’m No Carpenter!
You might think you are not a cabinet maker, joiner or wood specialist, so you can’t do it. The joinery has already been done! You don’t need any special skills or be a qualified carpenter to upscale. You just need a keen eye for quality and some elbow grease. You will obviously need to clean the piece. If the wood is very shiny, you should sand it down with
sandpaper as it gives the paint a grip. You might not have to sand down to the bare wood, but at least sand down the shiny paint or varnish it could have. Even if it’s not shiny, good advice is to sand it, nonetheless to smooth out any scratches or dents.
You might need to use some wood filler to fix holes and damage. You can buy it as putty in a range of colours which you can then mix to get a good colour match.
Then you need to paint, which is easy! Watch some YouTube videos and check out a few furniture painting tutorials.
Don’t Go Cheap!
It takes money to make money, as the saying goes and it applies to furniture upcycling too! You want to make as much profit as possible, but don’t skimp on the sealer and paint quality. Keep in mind that quality supplies will result in quality products. When
you have to buy knobs and drawer pulls, don’t buy the absolute best, but skip the really obviously cheap end parts.
Finishing touches like handles can transform a piece of furniture so always keep on the lookout for good suppliers and keep up to date with what they have in stock. You can also use wallpaper, magazines and newspaper to surface some or all of your furniture. Cut it to size carefully, use wallpaper paste to glue it on and then, when it’s dry, use a clear topcoat of paint to seal and protect.
Spray paint is expensive but it is easy to use and comes in some great finishes including sparkles! You can find spray paint for plastic, wood, metal and tile. The best bit is that it is great for getting into those hard to reach places and it won’t leave brush marks.
We are all trying to use less waste and no thrown things away that can be reused. Why not make some money from this? There are loads of ideas of ways to be creative with plastic and other waste – just do some Googling and browse through Pinterest. You can turn rubbish into products that people will buy!
Learn to take great pictures
They will be your selling point after all. You need to take high- quality pictures with the finer details clearly visible. People also like to envision the space allocation and uses for the piece, so try to create scenes that demonstrate how the pieces can be used.
Create a Facebook Business Page
It’s free and simple and when you have enough followers, you’ll find it an amazing platform to sell. Everybody’s on Facebook and it’s certainly one of the first places that anyone goes when looking at buying or selling stuff. Other platforms with great selling potential are Gumtree, Amazon, eBay and Etsy.
Pricing your upcycled furniture
Do a cost-benefit analysis. Consider the cost of the furniture and your supplies and be realistic in considering your selling price. Check out the prices of similar furniture pieces and keep in mind that if you overprice several pieces that you advertise, nobody will look at the pieces you apply next time. Don’t be greedy; if people are regularly coming to you with offers of £10 below your listing price, then maybe that’s the sweet spot.
From restoring furniture to making clocks out of cogs
How to join the ‘upcyling’ craze and turn your old junk into treasure
You can read the full article by Toby Walne Financial Mail On Sunday here.
A new craze called ‘upcycling’ – where worthless junk is given a fresh lease of life by being turned into something of value – is sweeping the nation. The Mail on Sunday joins the growing army of enthusiasts and learns how to turn discarded items into treasure.
Learn to Upcycle
Upcycling is grabbing the imagination of thousands of households looking to transform old rubbish into something new and valuable.
It is not just about saving money by making practical use of previously unloved items. It is also part of a consumer backlash against wasting money on poor quality but cheap items that do not last.
Furniture is one of the main focuses of upcycling – old wardrobes, chests of drawers, tables and chairs. But you can turn your hand to upcycling almost anything if you have the imagination and skills – from transforming old hats into lampshades to turning traditional television sets into aquariums.
The phenomenon has resulted in websites such as handmade crafts trader Etsy enjoying a surge in sales of upcycled labelled goods – from less than 8,000 in 2010 to more than 200,000 last year. Free classified adverts website Gumtree says the number of upcyclers selling through its website was up 89 per cent last year.
Donna Fenn, the founder of upcycle trading website Remade in Britain, believes imagination is the driving force behind this money-saving revolution – and is the next step on from recycling.
Material girl: Donna Fenn, founder of upcycle trading website Remade in Britain, with items brought to life by upcycling
The married mother-of-three, from Harrogate in North Yorkshire, says: ‘Recycling is about breaking something down – such as cardboard packaging being mashed and pulped. It involves destruction.
‘In contrast, upcycling is about using old pieces to make something new – either bringing together different items to make one brand new object or simply breathing fresh life into a single piece. It is a more imaginative challenge.’
Donna points out that upcycling can prove addictive, becoming a fascinating new – and creative – hobby that will save you money. You can also profit if you later decide to sell your upcycled goods.
After losing my job, I turned a passion into a business.
Keen cyclist Bev Martin, 41, from Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, turned her hobby into an upcycling business last year after being made redundant.
The former coffee bar manager uses bits of old bicycle – everything from punctured inner tubes to broken chains and wheel cogs – and turns them into wallets, jewellery and clocks. She then sells them on website VeloCulture.
Bev says: ‘It seems such a waste that thousands of inner tubes simply get thrown away every week along with discarded bikes.
‘I decided to give upcycling a try because I had lost my job and it is proving a success.’
Although she has turned her interest in cycling into a business – collecting old bikes from friends and other bike enthusiasts – Bev says she was also inspired by the bracelet jewellery she used to make for friends.
Household furniture once only deemed fit for throwing on the rubbish tip – such as tables, chairs and wardrobes – can be given a modern makeover to make it better than new and worth a lot more.
All that is required is a touch of imagination and a willingness to roll up the sleeves – perhaps with a handful of paintbrushes, pots of different colours and some stencils to create a shabby chic finish.
You might also try rummaging either around the back of the garage or in the attic in search of material that is suitable for upcycling.
Old bottles, vinyl records, tin cans, wooden pallets and outworn clothes that seem only fit for a jumble sale or charity shop can be reinvented as original art deco objects or used to create a designer wardrobe.
For example, records can be melted to make bowls while bottles can be turned into trendy lamp holders and tin cans into decorated plant pots.
Sally FitzGerald, editor of upcycling magazine Reloved, believes a trip to a charity shop, a car boot sale or a flea market are great places to start.
The 30-year-old, from Bath in Somerset, says: ‘I have done some upcycling myself – buying pieces of old furniture for just a few pounds and then doing them up.
‘I use chalk paints to give furniture a fresh French farmhouse look and a new lease of life.’
She adds: ‘It is not about old rubbish – but taking something that has seen better days and then breathing life into it. Remember, older is often better made than modern flat-pack furniture.
‘It could have been around for a hundred years or more. By upcycling you can personalise it exactly how you would like – and create something new and unique.’
Sally has recently used her paintbrushes to revitalise an £80 drinks cabinet she purchased from a local charity shop and a chest of drawers purchased for less than £100.
Chalk painting – provided by makers such as Annie Sloan – does not require the traditional preparation of sanding or priming and allows users to give a colour textured and aged look. Sally has also added stencilled decorations.
Once you have mastered the basic art of upcycling for your home – and created gifts for family and friends – you should then consider selling your skills on the internet.
Internet-based markets also offer a great place to find both raw materials and inspiration for further projects.
EBAY: The biggest online auction website attracts 18 million regular users in Britain. You can list up to 20 items each month for free through either an auction or a fixed-price sale. After this, it costs 35p for each listing. eBay takes a 10 per cent cut of the total transaction amount – the cost of the item plus postage charges – once a sale goes through. You can include up to 12 photos for free but if you want to include larger pictures this will cost £2.50.
ETSY: This online marketplace specialises in handmade crafts, arts and vintage items – and is a rich hunting ground for upcyclers.
There is a 14p charge for each listing. In addition, there is a ‘transaction fee’ of 3.5 per cent of the sale price. Other trading websites to consider include craftwork specialist Folksy, antiques and art dealer rubylane and the more general trader eBid.
REMADE IN BRITAIN: A website that specialises in upcycling – with more than 250 private and commercial traders listing sales. Sellers are charged 12 per cent commission for any item sold.
FREECYCLE: This non-for-profit organisation has more than eight million members worldwide. It is used for trading items people want to give away or find for free. It provides details of items available in your area through local groups. The website’s aim is to keep using items that otherwise may end up at a rubbish tip.
Other recycling trading websites to consider include My Skip, Freegle, LetsAllShare and Recycle Now.
GUMTREE: This popular free classified ads website attracts eight million visitors a month. Items can be listed with up to nine photos for free.
The website makes a profit from so-called ‘featured ads’ costing from £4.99. These are put at the top of listings.
AMAZON: The website has a complex charging system that varies depending on the trading option chosen.
There can be a 75p ‘per-item fee for each private sale plus a so-called ‘referral fee’ of between 7 and 25 per cent of the value of the sale price depending on the category in which you are trading. For example, with computers, the fee is 7 per cent of the final price, for clothing 15 per cent and jewellery 25 per cent. The minimum referral fee is 40p.
Make Money from Upcycling by Making your Upcycling Projects Easier Using Eco Solutions Products
It’s not all about new in our homes and businesses and upcycling is about buying old furniture or products that someone doesn’t want and being creative and changing it for your home or if you want to Make Money from Upcycling yourself. Using Eco Solutions cleaning, coating removing and stripping water-based, non-toxic products will make your upcycling project easier and quicker.
What are the benefits of Upcycling?
- It saves the environment
- It saves you money
- It is now very much on trend
- You can create your own unique furniture to fit with interior style and colour themes
- It is a skill and hugely rewarding
- There are many ways to upcycle to create different styles and looks that people are craving for and who don’t want to do it themselves
How does upcycling help the environment?
The environmental benefits of upcycling are huge.
- It reduces the amount of discarded materials being taken to landfill each year
- It reduces the need for using new or raw materials to produce new furniture
- This results in a reduction in air pollution, water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and often conservation of global resources
Hints & Tips when you are First Starting Out to Make Money from Upcycling Furniture
- There are so many places to find good and solid second-hand furniture; local charity shops, car boot sales, recycling centres and auctions. Local; Facebook pages, eBay and Preloved are also great for looking out for potential upcycling furniture projects for your business. Also, look out for house clearances as you can often pick up some bargains that will be really profitable for you to upcycle
- Use the internet and magazines to decide on the style you are looking to achieve for some inspiration. Curves, carved or raised moulding on tables, chairs, sideboards are great features if you are looking for a traditional on-trend, boutique look
- Don’t just think about upcycling older furniture as anything is a potential project. If you are looking for modern pieces then look for items with clean straight lines.
- Before you buy, always ask yourself if the piece of furniture is worth the cost and the time you will spend upcycling it. To help you with this a good way to find out what upcycled furniture is being sold for is by looking on eBay or finding other local upcycling businesses. This will also help you understand the items that sell well and different styles of furniture that are being upcycled
- Good lighting is so important when you’re painting furniture and outside natural light is always great if the weather is good. If you are going to paint inside then try and use a room that has a lot of natural light and if you don’t have this then always try out on an area of the furniture you can see and take it into natural light to see the finish before you transform the whole piece
- Make sure you prepare your work area and organise it so when you start your project you can do it without needing to stop halfway through. You will need a clean and tidy work surface and buy some plastic storage boxes which are brilliant for storing your tools in after you have cleaned them.
- Prepare and prime surfaces before you work on them. Before you do anything else you should use a good surface preparation product that will remove all types of grease, oil, dirt, stains, adhesive residues, paint splashes, stains, grime, mould, dirt and prepare surfaces for re-painting. Eco Solutions Go Grime is perfect for this and is a water-based, non-toxic, powerful solution to use when stripping back furniture
- Use an effective paint stripper rather than sanding a piece of furniture as it is much quicker and not as messy. Eco Solutions Paint & Varnish Remover is a quick and easy product to use to effectively remove; lead-based paints, oil-based paints, solvent-based paints, water-based paints & emulsions, polyurethane’s, stains, varnishes, waxes, fire-resistant paints and rust-preventative surface coatings. It can be used to strip back hard and softwood, marble, stone, brick, concrete, plaster, ceramic tiles, GRP, aluminium, brass, cast iron and other soft metals and it doesn’t damage the surface. It is a water-based, non-toxic, powerful solution that you paint on, leave for 20 minutes plus and then wipes away to leave you with your original surface.
- Paint might hide a multitude of sins but if your furniture has holes, dents, scratches or peeling paint these will be visible when painted over so always giving it a light sand before you add your finished product
- Always use good quality brushes which won’t lose the bristles and dry into your newly painted furniture. Clean them well after you have finished using them and you will be able to use them time and time again. A great tip is to wrap brushes in tinfoil whilst you are waiting for paint coats to dry which will keep the brush moist and then clean them as soon as you have finished so they are ready to use on your next project
- There are a variety of paints and techniques used for upcycling furniture; Milk, Chalk and Egg Shell paints can all be used. Practice and experiment with a few small pieces of wood to help you decide on your colour and style
- Watch YouTube videos and read blog articles to learn how best to paint an item as these will give you the hints and tips that will save you time and money in the long run
- If you’re using Chalk or Milk paint you should always add a layer of protection with a coat of wax or varnish when your paint has dried. Wax gives a lovely soft sheen and 2-3 coats should always be applied to protect it. Polyurethane varnish comes in matt or gloss and provides a more robust level of protection
About Eco Solutions Products
They have been researched, developed and manufactured in the UK and are unique products with a myriad of different applications to tackle the toughest jobs around the workshop, office, garage, home and upcycling projects quickly and efficiently.
Their water-based formulas have been developed from our original world-leading innovative technology and can be used indoors and out, with no need to ventilate the area you are working in, and it can be used without gloves or a mask. These water-based products are free of VOCs, acids, alkalis, and any hazardous solvents.
If you want to Make Money from Upcycling then GrimeGo and Home Strip Paint & Varnish Remover are the two products that you should always have in your toolkit. They will save you a huge amount of preparation time and mess and will give you a head start with your upcycling furniture business.
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