Sharon Brown And Cathy J
0:00:03 My name is Sharon Brown. I’ve trained in the last five years to be an upholsterer and I’ve set up a partnership with my friend and now work colleague, Cathy J. We offer a service where we source frames for people and then upholster them in their chosen fabrics. We do existing pieces of furniture that they provide, that they’ve had for many years generally, or they have sentimental value. And we do brand new pieces which tends to be the modern stuff that we then sell at craft fairs.
00:00:31 We always felt we would end up running a business together as a result of our friendship. Sharon and I have been friends for over 20 years. But I think it took us a while to work out what that business would be.
00:00:41 It’s always slightly daunting to put your…stick your neck out and set up your own business but we’re fortunate in the sense that there are two of us.
00:00:49 I’m still slightly surprised by the nature of the business that we’re now in because that was…came really out of the blue. It wasn’t something I’d ever anticipated or even considered.
00:01:00 Oh if you’d said to me when I was five years old oh you’re going to be an upholsterer, even if you’d said to me when I was 25 years old, you are going to be an upholsterer, I would have said well no, not really, I can’t see how I’m going to get there or I can’t see how that’s going to work out.
00:01:13 I think when I was younger, when I was at school, I had an aspiration to be a hairdresser.
00:01:19 I was always going to be a PE teacher but I think that’s only because you don’t actually understand how many different jobs are out there.
00:01:26 I saw an advert for allocators, as they were called then, at Top Shop which got me into the Top Shop buying head office effectively which I where I met Cathy. Then I had my first child. There was an awful lot of travel involved and it’s quite a difficult job to do with young children so at that time, I left.
00:01:47 I have to say when I worked at Top Shop, it was a very high pressure environment. I felt very under pressure, very stressed, very anxious and never really enjoyed it.
00:02:00 I returned to a passion of mine was I had as a child which was riding and I went back to working in a livery yard. Unfortunately, one day a couple of years ago, I was out riding and a motorcycle came into the woods, frightened the horse that I was riding and he reared and fell on me and he shattered my hip and my pelvis and I wasn’t able to ride again. So I got a whole sort of, you know, career that I’d kind of carved out for myself was stopped overnight.
00:02:31 As a result of that, obviously, you know, things were quite difficult. I was very despondent about life, you know, it’s back to square one, back to the drawing board, what can I do and saw the article about Wendy Shorter Interiors, about the upholstery courses and the soft furnishing courses and spoke to Sharon about it.
00:02:49 I think I was on the phone within about 20 minutes and I was on the course within two hours later.
00:02:54 I think the high point was when we did our first show and you get there and you think well is anyone going to buy this? What are people’s reactions going to be? And we did the show and it was two days and it was fantastic. We sold loads and we got loads of work subsequently after it and we’ve never really looked back from that. But I think that first putting yourself up in front of the general public was quite a daunting experience.
00:03:19 I think a high point for me I think has been my children when people have said to them well what does your mum do and they’ve been able to say my mum’s an upholsterer and I think for a long time, my children were like oh my mum just stays at home and my mum’s a housewife, my mum’s a mum. And I think they’re really quite proud and I think it actually sets a very good role model for them in the future that yes, you can have a career. You may well have a break and have children but at some point, it’s actually very good to go back and do something for you.
00:03:48 If I could do anything at all from this point in my life, I would actually like to carry on developing the business. I’d really love to see our name out there on the high street to see Stuffed Interiors.
00:04:01 You don’t have to do the same job for all your life, you can change as we’ve done. That wasn’t as good second time was it but anyway.
00:04:08 Well I wish you wouldn’t say that at the end.
00:04:10 I can’t help it.
00:04:11 Until you said that…
00:04:12 I’m sure Angelina Jolie goes cut it, doesn’t she and says ‘oh that wasn’t good and walks off’. See…
00:04:17 No, we’re not quite there though.
Cathy J is an Upholsterer. She makes unique furniture in a business with her friend. Friendship and running their own business together is important. She also says “You may well have a break and have children but at some point, it’s actually very good to go back and do something for you.”
More information about Upholsterers
The UK average salary is £28,758
There are 37.5 hours in the average working week
The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male
- Measures frame to be covered or examines drawings or other specifications and cuts material with shears, knife or scissors;
- Tacks and staples or otherwise secures webbing to furniture frame;
- Pads springs and secures padding by stitching, stapling, tacking, etc.;
- Pins sections of coverings together, joins by sewing and inserts trims, braids and buttons as required and fits upholstery unit to frame;
- Operates machine to compress padded spring assemblies and inserts them into mattress covers;
- Encases bed springs and padding with selected covering material by hand or machine stitching and fits castors where required;
- Replaces covering, padding, webbing or springs to repair upholstered furniture;
- Measures, cuts, pins, sews and trims fabrics to make curtains, cushions, loose covers and similar soft furnishings.
Related career stories
From personal careers advice to finding work, see our round-up of
useful websites to help you on your way