Upcycling specialist proves a class act

Upcycling specialist proves a class act

A former teacher whose passion for upcycling led her to launch her own business two years ago is set to go full circle, with ambitions to launch dedicated workshops later this year to teach her skills and ideas to fellow creatives.

Ali Williams co-founded Reinvented with Love in 2019 while teaching at Farringdon Community School, and began helping her clients by transforming their old, unloved furniture into reinvented masterpieces while highlighting the important role upcycling plays in the circular economy.

The project initially started out as a shared hobby with a friend, with Ali working on reinvention projects in her spare time, but turned into a full-time business two years later as demand for their services gradually grew.

Ali said: “I absolutely love what I do and take enormous pride and satisfaction from working with customers to help create beautiful and inspiring projects, be it refurbishing passed-down family heirlooms such as period furniture to bespoke cushions and homewares, it’s something I feel really passionate about.”

Ali Williams, Reinvented with Love

Ali Williams, Reinvented with Love

Having worked from home since launching the business, Ali relied heavily on word of mouth but decided to invest in ramping up Reinvented with Love’s web and social media presence during the recent pandemic and has since seen demand take a huge upturn.

“Strangely enough, lockdown really boosted the business,” Ali added. “Previously, we were working just on word of mouth and small commissions but when lockdown hit, more and more people turned to home improvement while they were stuck at home and all of a sudden, we were receiving order upon order through our digital channels.”

The rising popularity of home improvement and upcycling during the pandemic not only helped drive business for Reinvented with Love, but it also helped spur on Ali’s desire to teach skills and ideas to others and has led her to exploring the possibility of setting up her own workshops in the city.

After attending an online workshop held by the NEN member, North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC), Ali began looking at sites and was introduced to the team behind the regeneration of Mackie’s Corner.

Situated in the heart of Sunderland city centre, Mackie’s Corner is a stunning Victorian building at the junction of Bridge Street and High Street West that is being lovingly transformed into a hub of creative businesses, from delicatessens to art galleries and cafes and is set to open its doors fully once lockdown measures have eased.

Ali said: “The workshops were a real eye opener. Victoria, who handles the sessions, really got me thinking more strategically and channelling where I wanted to go and what I needed to do to get there.

“I knew I wanted to host my own workshops and begin producing my own line of products and having my own, dedicated workspace was the natural move to realise my ambitions. As soon as I met the team at Mackie’s Corner, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for.”

As well as teaching people how to upcycle, Ali is also keen to educate people about the environmental benefits as well as the economic benefits that upcycling yields.

She added: “Many people think of upcycling as being a cost-effective way of restoring old and unloved furniture, which it is, but it also has huge environmental benefits and by helping give people the confidence to upcycle themselves, we can hopefully all play a part in reducing our carbon footprint in a super-fun way.”

Victoria Moodie, business adviser at the North East BIC, said: “We’ve absolutely loved working with Ali and helping her explore new avenues to grow her business once lockdown measures are eased and we’d urge anyone thinking of starting or growing a creative business to get in touch and find out how they could benefit from the support on offer.”