Friday interview | Kerrie Patterson on being brave enough to follow her dreams
A probation officer for 15 years, Kerrie never thought she would end up as an entrepreneur with her own bespoke furniture business. She spoke to HLN about facing her fears and going for it...
By Laura Kingston
Probation officer to furniture refurbisher is quite a change! Tell us about your journey?
The idea for the business came when I was still working. I love interior design and couldn’t find the pieces of furniture that I wanted for my own home. I was looking online and found a Facebook group on upcycling vintage pieces and that was it, I was sucked in! That was four years ago and at the time I was working as a probation officer. I’d had my two boys and had gone back to work part-time but as is often the case these days, I was doing a full-time job in fewer hours. One day I just broke down and went through a long period of burnout. Working on my furniture really helped me through that period and I started to sell my first couple of pieces which felt amazing. I got the opportunity to take redundancy and just went for it – I haven’t looked back.
So your business is Vintage Vamped – what exactly do you do?
Essentially I refurbish amazing pieces of vintage furniture into my signature style which is fun, colourful and unique. it can be anything from wingback armchairs to dining chairs, stools and chests. My customers either source the pieces themselves, have pieces of their own that they want updating or I can source the furniture for them. I strip it all down to the frame, re-foam it and then cover it in the chosen material. I do a lot of patchwork and mixing prints which creates a point of interest – it’s also great because I can work with customers on specific colour palettes to create something that really fits into their space as a statement piece.
Was it an instant relief starting up on your own or has there been challenges?
No, it wasn’t instant relief. I’m really happy now working for myself and the flexibility that brings with it to be able to spend time with my boys – but it took some time to get to this place. As I said, I was at a very low ebb when I left work. I’m really close to my mum and she was very supportive. She introduced me to networking and the power of building contacts and meeting new people. At first, I couldn’t face going so my mum actually went for me and started promoting my business! I started to go along with her and now my confidence has built-up I really love it. Now my mum comes over most Wednesday’s and gives me really practical help which is a huge support. She could be doing anything from stripping chairs to picking up the boys – I don’t know what I’d do without her!
As a creative, do you find it hard to stick to your signature style and not sell-out?
Well, first of all, I’m still getting my head around being called a creative as I identified as a prison officer for so long! But yes, I did go through a phase of creating some pieces that were plain to try and hit a wider market, but it just didn’t feel right. I’ve learned that I’m aiming at people who like my colourful and unique style and like me, couldn’t find the pieces that they wanted anywhere else. Now, my confidence is building more and more and my plan is to take the business national as we now offer a courier service to deliver pieces anywhere in the country.
Have you seen increased demand with people trying to be more sustainable and buy less new?
Absolutely and it is one of the things I’m really passionate about promoting. You can find such high-quality vintage furniture and by just showing it some love you can transform it into a bespoke statement piece at just a fraction of the cost of buying new. I love the personality and character than my furniture brings in to homes.
Even in terms of fabrics, you can find absolute gems on other pieces of furniture or clothing. I create tooth fairy cushions for children and I just save up all of my son’s old jeans and use the pockets from those.
What about people who want to start small with introducing colour into their homes – what do you advise?
Cushions are the best way to start! They are so easy to play around with and you can change them with every season. Don’t be scared of colour. Start small and introduce a bit at a time. Have fun and go with your gut. If you don’t like it – change it!