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Building an eco friendly business with Tatty Rose

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by Startacus Admin

As you know July is our Glasgow startup month- an entire month when we take a good hard look at this marvellous city and all the people, places and events that make it the great startup place that it is!

To this end, we've been in touch with a lovely lady named Sarah Johnston, founder of furniture upcycling business Tatty Rose and all-round self starter! She tells us all about her startup journey in Glasgow and what it's been like growing into a modern, eco friendly business.

Hi, I'm Sarah and I'm the director of Tatty Rose Ltd. I first started Tatty Rose back in 2012 before I even signed up for college. I had spent the majority of my working career in Tatty Rose the healthcare sector and knew that it wasn't where I wanted to end up as I always wanted a career that was more creative. At the age of 25 I decided to enroll back into education to study furniture restoration. Always being a fan of sewing and a good power tool I felt this was the best course for me. I loved the two years I spent at the City of Glasgow College but soon found that my heart was more geared towards furniture upcycling rather than restoration, much to the frustration of my lecturers.

During the two years of study I worked hard fitting as many hours of nursing auxiliary work as I could, slowly building up a collection of tools, sewing machines and furniture. I knew that the end goal would be worth the hard work. I shared my college experience on my business Facebook and twitter page and built a healthy number of followers, making contacts as I went. In the first year I still lived in Edinburgh commuting every day. On the odd occasion I had a day free I volunteered as an upholstery assistant with ‘BeSeated’. Pete's patience was incredible and his guidance invaluable. With the second year of college I moved through to the West and rented my own workshop.

Tatty Rose Finding my own style and business principles during those two years brought me to developing Tatty Rose into an environmentally responsible furnishings and homeware provider. Personally, I've always been aware of my responsibility to the environment and have taken my love for this to the next level by eating as organic as I can and making all my own toiletries and cosmetics, it seemed only right to share this in my business life.

I keep my chemical use to a minimum in my workshop and always recommend to clients that they use an environmentally friendly paint and wood finish on their furniture. There are more and more products coming to the market to meet the growing demand of being environmentally friendly, I try my best to research as much as I can and find talking to others in the profession a fantastic resource. I have recently been in touch with Zero Waste Scotland to discuss how to improve TR further and I'm happy to advise that we will be a paper lite company. I found Lynn a fantastic help at Z.W.S, she specialises in textile sustainability. I had poor Lynn on the phone for over an hour asking lots of questions which lead onto more questions. The conversation made me really think hard about the fabric I want to use and how I want to develop in the future.

There is a definite change coming to the Scottish fabric scene, with work going into metal and hemp fibers. We need to start looking at sustainability and what we, as professionals, can do to make it accessible for our clients. I've been looking hard for new textile designers to collaborate with and to expand my idea, which has led me onto my sister company "Furniture Pop Up". I have set up Furniture Pop Up with two of my good friends, Victoria Cheape and Gillian Blair. Our aim is to offer a platform for all avenues of home furnishing to come together to share ideas, discuss collaborations and showcase their wares in a fresh and exciting environment. We have furniture craftsmen, textile designers, bespoke rug makers and fantastic Scottish craft beer.

Tatty RoseWith this venture I hope to find other creative people to work with developing ideas and making a finished product.My advice to anyone setting up an environmentally friendly business is plan, organise and be realistic. Don’t jump into too much at once, advance into it and think outside the box, every little helps and the more you build on being green the better. Tatty Rose was never specifically an eco friendly business when I started, it’s just something I have grown into and have established a passion for. Seek advice, Zero Waste Scotland is a fantastic resource. Whatever you are buying, stop, and think if you can get an ecofriendly alternative. Being a new business is financially hard and sometimes financially the eco friendly route isn’t always the cheapest, hopefully this will change as demand grows for more sustainable products.

Thanks for the thoughts Sarah and best of luck with Tatty Rose


Why not take a look at some of the other stuff we have featured so far in our Glasgow startup month



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Published on: 22nd July 2014

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