A hub in Paisley town centre is helping local creatives to run their own businesses while saving furniture from landfill.
Restoration & Creation on the town’s Browns Lane is the brainchild of former globetrotting IKEA manager Caroline Sweeney.
Caroline – a home interiors specialist – spent 20 years living and working abroad for the home furnishing giants before deciding to start her own business last year.
She has been backed by a Creative Business Hub grant from Renfrewshire Council enabling her to welcome likeminded local creatives to join her at the hub.
“I believe we are born to create so the idea behind the hub was for people to bring something in, upcycle it and take it away,” explains Caroline, from Bridge of Weir.
“We’ve so much stuff in landfill it’s ridiculous, stuff that with a little bit of effort you can transform.
“Customers at IKEA were looking for more sustainable furniture and for something custom-made, something they couldn’t get anywhere else.”
Caroline has transformed the 17th century stables into a hive of creative activity complete with exhibition, retail and making space as well as room to run a range of workshops.
Council funding has subsidised the costs to Caroline as the hub develops and let her pass on reduced rates to other creatives sub-letting space.
This has seen five local creative business owners move in, making and selling customised handmade products including upcycled, repurposed and restored furniture, painted porcelain, stained glass and sculpture.
Caroline added: “I wanted to develop a creative hub in Paisley because there’s so much creativity here and Browns Lane is the perfect place for a hub, just like the Hidden Lane in Finnieston or Ashton Lane in Partick.
“If it wasn’t for the Council business grant, I would have moved elsewhere, as the building is too big for me to keep on my own.
“It’s lovely to have company and share the journey with other creatives. It’s such a huge risk to rent a shop, the overheads have a massive effect and creatives couldn’t afford to take that on, so the hub enables them to come into a safe space, pay a small amount to test it and hopefully launches their business.”
Councillor Andy Steel, Convener of Renfrewshire’s Economy and Regeneration Policy Board, said: “There’s so much creative talent right across Renfrewshire and we know there’s a strong demand for space for creatives to come together and collaborate, which in turn attracts visitors to the area to spend local.
“We established the Creative Business hub grant to provide the funding which helps this to happen and that’s seen several hubs form, enabling creative companies to establish themselves.
“Restoration & Creation is the latest example of this and it’s great to see them passing on their creative skills to others through the workshops and their focus on upcycling, which supports our wider ambition for a net zero Renfrewshire.”