Discarded toy dinosaur limbs, brass instruments and scrap fabric might sound like the forgotten contents of a typical loft, but for concept charity shop, Re-styled by St Oswald’s Hospice, one man’s rubbish really is another man’s treasure as it celebrates its first year of literally ‘making’ a difference to local people’s lives.
Since opening last September, the Newcastle-based boutique – one of St Oswald’s 28 shops across the region, has used various items donated to the charity to create and sell one-off upcycled furniture, gifts and homewares. All profits from the shop contribute towards the £7.5m the charity needs to raise each year, to continue delivering specialist care to thousands of North East families.
During the past 12 months, 50 toy dinosaurs and farm animals have been sliced and diced to form parts of children’s furniture, around 100m2 of fabric has been used for reupholstering projects and an unwanted trumpet has even been repurposed into a stylish lamp.
Over 150 litres of paint – equivalent to 1,500m2, has been used by the shop’s team of expert upcyclers and volunteers to give a new lease of life to hundreds of projects in all shapes and sizes.
Everything from dining tables, chairs and wardrobes to coat hangers, cushions and frames have been transformed into stylish, shabby chic homewares, and snapped up by local shoppers looking for one-of-a-kind interiors.
The team’s upcycling talents have even reached international audiences, after shop manager Sophie Adamson was invited to make her TV debut on shopping channel, HOCHANDA in June this year, followed by regular appearances.
Sophie said: “Re-styled has enjoyed a fantastic first year of taking inspiration from donations and turning pre-loved into re-loved. We’ve had an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from the public – most customers don’t even realise it’s a charity shop but when we tell them, they’re delighted that their purchases are supporting a local cause.”
As well as its unique product collections, Re-styled offers interactive workshops at the Eldon Garden Shopping Centre store as another way of creatively fundraising for St Oswald’s.
Devised and delivered by Sophie and assistant manager Sarah Finnemore, the workshops invite upcycling enthusiasts to discover new crafts such as rag wreath making, embellishment and decoupage, and find out how easy it is to transform furniture at upholstery and painting sessions.
Sophie added: “Our workshops are designed to bring people together in a relaxed and fun environment, aimed at all ages and abilities. One lady who is about to turn 90 came to a class to reignite her passion for painting and has since turned her hand to all kinds of projects at home, which is exactly what we hoped to achieve. Anyone can try it.
“We have several more workshops running until the end of the year, including festive-themed sessions where people can learn to make their own Christmas decorations – an area that is becoming increasingly popular as people look to add a personal touch to their homes. We’re also preparing launch our workshop programme for the year ahead and can’t wait to share our skills with even more #northeastupcyclers as we grow our community.”
And the store’s effect on local communities doesn’t stop there. Over 30 people have given their time to volunteer to help run the shop and go behind-the-scenes to complete upcycling projects.
Sophie said: “We simply couldn’t have achieved what we have over the past year without the support of our fantastic volunteers. Our volunteers come to us for many reasons, from looking to give something back to a local cause to learning new skills, meeting new people and establishing new friendships – there’s something for everyone.
“As well as helping in the shop, some of our volunteers have shared their expertise to create more unusual products for our customer to enjoy. Thanks to our regular volunteer, Suki who has been with since last year, and her amazing origami skills, we’ve produced 128 origami birds and butterflies to make quirky hanging decorations. The possibilities are endless and our customer love it!”
Following its first successful year, St Oswald’s has ambitious plans for Re-styled, including supporting its ongoing commitment to the recycling and reuse of donated goods. In 2016-17, the charity saved 188,874 kg of furniture from landfill with help from Re-styled through upcycling items.
Head of retail at St Oswald’s Hospice, Andrew Moir said: “St Oswald’s takes a fresh approach to charity retailing with several concept stores already established across the North East, from our Whitley Bay bridal shop to our big brand boutique in Jesmond, £1 clearance store in North Shields, and more.
“While Re-styled was a completely new model in our portfolio, the values remain the same; underpinning our commitment to reuse and recycling, bringing people together to enjoy quality time and ultimately supporting the Hospice. We’re now looking forward to the future for Re-styled, which will include extending our reach via online selling channels such as Etsy and working more closely with our communities.”
Visit Re-styled by St Oswald’s Hospice this week (25 – 30 September 2017) at Unit 19 Eldon Garden Shopping Centre, Newcastle, NE1 7RA to share in its celebrations including a raffle to win a paint hamper, a flash sale on upcycled furniture (Saturday 30 September) and sign up for its creative workshops.
The shop can also be found on Facebook and Instagram by searching ‘Restyled St Oswald’s’ – join the conversation using #northeastupcyclers or contact the team on 0191 230 3184 / email@example.com.
For more information about St Oswald’s Hospice, visit www.stoswaldsuk.org.