FINALLY I have some time! As part of my new year's (business) resolutions, I have decided to start a small blog providing regular updates on the going on and work at the Glasgow furniture collective but also introduce to you interesting ways in which furniture can shape and influence the world we live in through art, activism and ethics for example.
However, as this is my first blog post I’ll use the time to tell you a little more about myself and what exactly is Glasgow furniture Collective. So here goes….
Who am I ?
My name is Nicola Williams, a 32-year-old messy, whippet owning, east end living upholsterer.
The one thing that I love most is to learn about new places, people, topics and crafts. The latter, ultimately, brought me to the path I am leading now. It started in 2008 and I was working as an analyst in the National Health Service. I loved this job but the sedentary nature of the role left me frustrated and so I thought I would dabble in a bit of upholstery and enroll in the City of Glasgow College’s upholstery night course.
Immediately, my love for all things changed from shoes and fashion to upholstery, furniture and tools. Then it started to snowball, I ended up working part time and completing the HND furniture restoration course at the college over the following 2 years. Fast forward several years of juggling work, more work, friend and family and I decided to go for it and in 2015 I quit my job, went on holiday for 3 weeks and returned to face the scary prospect of self employment,
I can honestly say that this has been the best decision of my life. It has no way been easy though. It can be hard, stressful, time consuming, lonely, body aching work but slowly it is paying off and the pros always outweigh the cons. However, it sometimes doesn’t feel that way at 3am crying over a zip. And another thing, it's never too late to change your direction.
What actually is the Glasgow furniture collective?
So here’s the thing, currently the collective isn’t actually a collective. Two college friends and myself originally started the Glasgow Furniture Collective in 2013 and it was initially founded to provide an umbrella of moral and technical support between us all, as new furniture graduates. However, due to the family commitments of my co-founders, I have been running this ship for the past 2 years on my tod.
Do I plan to change the name? No, one of the rules of advertising your business, is tell your business like it is. Through this name, you know where I am based and what I do. Who knows? It could be a collective sometime again in the future.
And what happens here?
I specialise in upholstery and wood finishing offering custom upholstery for modern and antique furniture as well as creating one off, original pieces available to buy or commission. I also have exerience in working with local businesses in fitting upholstery within commercial premises. Past clients include Glasgow restaurants The Bungo, The Left bank, The 13th note, A'Challtain and cafe seating for the Three Sisters Bake cafe in Killearn. For more information on these and other past projects, head to the portfolio page on the GFC website.
I strongly believe my business should focus on more than one area. This means that where season trends, styles and demands affect one area of my business, I have another to fall back on. Plus I don’t want to be stuck doing the same thing day in day out. And as a result, where GFC focuses primarily on bespoke upholstery commissions, I also teach or take part in community projects. This includes hosting my own private classes, One to one tuition, teaching in community groups, charities and private businesses. Over the years, I have worked with a variety of different organisations including:
Tutoring with the Rags to riches at Govanhill baths, The Re:store in Lanark.
Hosting workshops as part of North Glasgow Art and regeneration network's (NGART) winter coat festival, Zero waste Scotland's 'Pass it on week', South Lanarkshire & East Dumbartonshire council, the 'Waste Not Want' Climate Challenge at Kinning park complex, St. Joseph’s primary in Cowcaddens.
Taken part in the Glasgow School of Art's reSource project where local artists and students have carbon costed the processes, tools and materials used in producing their work.
Presented an upcycling session at the Ideal home show in Glasgow's SECC.
The common thread in the majority of my work looks at the issue of repair, reuse, recycle, and upcycle. Over the next few years, I aim to reduce the waste output from my small business and continue to develop workshops focusing waste reduction and sustainability.
Where is GFC?
With most creative industries, you require a good space to work and no way would my neighbours (or husband) put up with more mess and noise than usual. For furniture you require a good bright, large and especially dry space. As a result, the GFC has been based in the heart of the east end in the Barras Art and Design centre for the past 4 years. The centre has always been a hive of creative and industrious small businesses including the Braw wee emporium, Made by Madara, 23rd precinct records to name a few. It provides a great vibe and the perfect support network for all of us who work long days (and nights) to follow our dream.
More recently, the centre has gone through a complete transformation with the opening of the A’Challtain seafood restaurant by Brian Traynor, Ricky Scoular and their fantastic team. The restaurant has brought not only a refreshed look and atmosphere to the area but more people are discovering this little gem of a building in the heart of the east end. And from what I hear there is a lot more to come! Keep an eye on their social media for more events, markets, parties and more here.
The End…for now.
So there you are, the who, what, when, where of all things GFC. If you have anymore questions about myself and the work I do then don’t hesitate to get in touch or arrange a visit to the workshop. You can also keep up to date with all my musings via the social media links below.