London “Creatives” are everywhere you look, in the smallest shop in the biggest building. Everywhere you turn are amazing people following their passion and dreams! Our new “Creative London” features will be celebrating some amazing Londoners and their businesses.
Our first stop is Petit Miracles. The Petit Miracles Hub, is an incubator for business owners from Hammersmith and Fulham, opened at West 12 shopping centre on 4 December (Thursday), providing a communal space for 20 emerging businesses. Totalling 6,000 sq ft, The Hub is the brain-child of the West 12 management team and Elisicia Moore, a passionate social entrepreneur and a self-confessed upcycling enthusiast who already owns the Hub’s sister store located at West 12, Petit Miracles Interiors.
It will house innovative meeting areas including a garden shed and presentation areas, as well as a DJ booth and café.
We caught up with Elisicia Moore to find out more about her and the hub in an exciting interview… Get your up-cycling hats on!
Well thank you very much! We have an experienced furniture restorer and a creative team so we are pretty fortunate to do the work together and do the work we do. However, we didn’t always restore furniture. Petit Miracles has morphed and changed over the years to suit the economic climate and feedback from previous trainees. The idea began as an idea when I worked at a great charity, called Thames Reach and had one of the best jobs in the world. I managed a program that offered decorating training to homeless people. However, as with many programs in the homeless sector, women were not engaging with the service. My background was interior design and I felt pretty sure that if we offered something that was of interest to women than they would attend, a no brainer really. So, I started offering taster days in interior design and low and behold, the women started attending in droves! We were over the moon and I secretly was ecstatic as I much preferred interior design to decorating. At any rate, my time there ended as my work visa expired. I was very sad to say the least. But I had I, unwittingly, created the perfect job for myself. The charity, after I left, did not continue with the training as I was the only person who could deliver the training. A year later, Petit Miracle Interiors was born.
Our aim is to work with people who have been long-term unemployed. Our team is made up of a combinations of paid staff, volunteers, and, where appropriate, take referrals from the job centre for people to do work experience positions. In everything we do, we are trying to create community by using vacant property to teach traditional skills all whilst embedding employability skills and enhancing people’s job prospects.
Seeing the change in people once they work with us for a week or two. The change in people’s perceptions of themselves is hugely rewarding. I have worked with people from all walks of life and I am never underwhelmed by people’s stories and hardships. It is true, everyone is dealing with some struggle or another. The community we provide at PMI is transformative for a lot of people.
I am fuelled by innovative ideas, collaborative processes and all things creative. I think we are living in an exciting time in history. Never before has business models been challenged so thoroughly, and concepts like the sharing economy has opened so many doors. Whilst I don’t believe there is anything new under the sun, I do believe, though, the way we do things can have a dramatic effect and create value where once there was none.
Many people don’t believe me when I say it, but I am an introvert. So I love alone time where I can refuel and get inspired by looking through Pinterest, Design Blogs and of course, hanging out with my family.
More often than not, wastefulness is needless. I think we need to bring environmental issues and recycling into mainstream curriculum. Teaching children how to live by the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, and recycle) will raise adults who care about their environment and make daily living choices that respect our planet.
There is so many to choose from, it’s hard to say but the first big upcycle we did was a pallet sofa and pallet coffee table. Which now lives in Sydenham library. As we knew it was going to reside in a library we built a bookshelf into the back and arm rests, so its suits its surroundings rather well.
I truly believe that our lives can be made better by investing and enjoying our surroundings. There is much research to support this too, particularly with cancer clinics and dementia wards. To that end, I think many people do not realise the impact their living environment has on their well-being. So I wanted to share everything we have learnt. But, as our charity relies on the sale of furniture to keep the project going (we have no gov’t funding) we decided to offer our workshops at a fee so that we could help sustain the charity. We also offer a 60% reduced fee for people on benefits.
We are also working with a housing association, hosting workshops on site and creating a new design for a communal living area in their accommodation. It’s a really exciting project called Changing Spaces and we are really proud to be working on this project. It’s great to see people come together to create something beautiful for everyone to enjoy.
Here are my top ten tips for getting started in upcycling:
Get Creative! You can turn trash into treasure, just use your imagination! Everything in your home can be upcycled into something new and useful; an old suitcase into a table, just add some legs and voila!
If you have don’t have any tools, first ask your friends and family. Otherwise, invest in a small starter kit including a hammer, Stanley knife, nails/screws, screwdriver, tape, scissors, tape measure, spirit level (essential for keeping things straight), good quality paintbrush, pliers and a pencil.
START small to build your confidence. For example, the next time you finish making a tuna fish sandwich, take the wrapper off and give it a good wash, place the tin on its side between 2 bricks or heavy books, with your hammer lightly tap a nail into the side of the tin making small holes. Remove each time you make a hole. Insert tea light and the light will stream through the holes you’ve made with the nail, voila a lantern!
DO get on line and see how the pros do it, YouTube is great for handy DIY tips. And look on Pinterest and join upcycling forums for tips and techniques.
Once you’ve started DO NOT go out and buy anything until you have scoured your home, the streets even your neighbour’s house for anything you might need. Upcycling is all about using what you already have.
When it comes to furniture, before you throw it out, think paint, paint paint! Almost anything can be painted with chalk paint, and, you can make your own too: 1 cup emulsion paint, 1 tbsp. white grout and splash of water. Give it a good stir and you are ready to go.
The golden rule in painting, is prep, prep and more prep. Thoroughly clean your item with soapy water and sand, sand, sand before painting. This is called keying the surface, it provides a strong surface for paint to adhere. I suggest using a sandpaper grit of 80-120.
Everyday objects can become your best tools, save your old bed linens, t-shirts and toothbrushes, they are great for polishing and waxing furniture.
Try these ideas to get yourself started: When you’re finished with your milk container, cut it in half and use it for a handy pet food scoop. Turn your old wellies into charming planters, simply pour in the soil and place your plant inside. Need extra seating? Lay two belts parallel on the floor, stack a pile of magazines neatly on top, wrap the belts tightly and connect them at the top – seating!
Have fun, be patient and experiment but know your limits. If you start to feel you are out of your depth, call someone or hire a reliable professional.
Come visit our shop, check out our latest collections and meet our team – we love visitors!
As well, don’t be afraid of getting stuck into projects like furniture upcycling. It’s hugely rewarding to save something that would have otherwise been chucked in the bin. Just follow my advice above and have fun!
Photo Credit: NYLA SAMMONS PHOTOGRAPHER Web: www.nylasammons.com Twitter: @nylasammons Facebook: @nylasammonsphotography