Repair old furniture at premium fee

Tuesday January 22 2019

An old seat can be repaired to look brand new

An old seat can be repaired to look brand new just like the one on the left. PHOTO BY ESTHER OLUKA  

By Dorothy Nakaweesi

You can give old furniture a new look and get paid a premium fee of your choice. This business known as upholstery, allows you to work with different fabrics on old furniture to achieve a new look altogether.

Upholstery means soft, padded textile covering that is fixed to furniture such as armchairs and sofas.

As consumers shift from the throw-away culture to repairing old stuff including furniture, you will see that the market for this business is guaranteed. This is a business you can start part-time as you prepare to delve in full-time.
But how do you get started in this business?

Starting
Professionals in the business say one may not need a lot of money to set off capital. You just need the right tools to be successful.

Upholstery tools include antique staple pliers, arch punches, stitching seam stretchers, button machines and dyes, fabric punches and cutting pads.

You could start with a beginner’s kit of upholstery tools, or order the specialist tools for specific projects.

Know-how
Richard Ibanda of Trendy Interior, learnt the business of making furniture and Upholstery from his uncle’s business in Nairobi.

After acquiring some skills, he returned to Uganda and started his own workshop. He has no regrets.
“Upholstery and furniture making is a lucrative business. If you deliver quality work, customers will always be knocking at your door,” Ibanda shares.

He advises those interested in venturing into this business to be pay attention to quality. Upholstery, though laborious, requires skill and paying particular attention to form and detail. This is what sets you apart from those rushing only to offer shoddy work.

Money
Ideally, it takes about three days to make the repairs. This means on average, Ibanda can handle two sets in a week.
He says when repairing sofas that he originally made, his charges don’t go beyond Shs300,000. But repairing imported sets or those that were made by others cost up to Shs1 million.

He charges less to repair sofas he originally made because he has the templates. But other types takes him a lot of time to prepare. This means money.

If Ibanda can handle two sets on average in a week, this means if he is busy through the month, he can handle eight sets. This is equivalent to earning Shs2.4 million monthly.
If the trend is the same throughout the year, his annual turnover will be Shs28.8 million. But this figure could be higher than this.

Challenge
Most customers assume that the cost of repairing old furniture is low.

Advice
Mr Reagan Ssembaty, the manager operations - House of Wealth – a local firm offering business advisory services, says just like any other business it is wise to prepare your catalogue which has different designs, location and photos of the furniture you ever handled.

“Once you’ve registered your business, you will attract many clients,” Mr Ssembatya says.

He says with the digital era, in order to reach as many clients as possible, open up social spaces on facebook. Twitter, Instagram and be a member of several WhatsApp groups to market your products.
Visit those already in the business to learn more skills and how their businesses operate and survive.

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