Over the course of the last 18 months, lot’s of people have used the slower pace of life to their advantage by finding out where their passions truly are and for Michelle Davidson, she turned that passion in to her pay check.
Here, we delve behind the brand, One of a Kind Designs, and get to the heart of what makes Michelle the force to be reckoned with that she is today…
Tell us about the journey that lead you to launching your brand, One of a Kind Designs
I think everyone would agree that the last 18 months have been a little bit odd to say the least, and like many of your readers who are ‘solopreneurs’, I started painting furniture as a hobby. In fact, it all started with a beautiful, Victorian wooden chair that I acquired, with lofty plans for a grand transformation. A chair became and chest of drawers, a writing bureau, a drinks cabinet and, frankly, anything else I could my hands on!
I never dreamt that one year later I would be selling my furniture on my own website, having attended the first ever UK Furniture Painters Business Academy Conference or have my story published in an international lifestyle magazine! It’s been a whirlwind of a year.
Not long after picking up my first paintbrush, I knew that I had found my passion! I discovered my love for creating unique designs with vintage furniture and around the same time I also realised that I was not alone in my passion. I started to get lots of interest on my personal social media pages when sharing my transformations and I thought that there may be an opportunity to work on other people’s household projects.
It quickly grew into more than that as people have come to me looking for inspiration, or for me to help them realise their own vision. From then on, it seemed that there was a market for creating bespoke vintage furniture.
Before long I was considering the real impact of my work. I was rescuing beautiful furniture that was often destined for landfill and turning it into something that would be loved and treasured for many more years. This was eye-opening for me.
My mission now is to provide an alternative to mass-produced, fast-furniture, which is often made up of poor quality materials making it just another aspect of our wasteful, ‘throwaway’ culture, and if I can inspire others to do something similar, I will have achieved something wonderful.
How did you discover your passion for creating bespoke furniture?
By accident actually. I was looking for a new creative outlet. Over the years I had tried tapestry, dress making, candle making, and as much as I still love to do all those creative hobbies, once I picked up a paintbrush and saw the effect that I could have on an old piece of furniture, I was sold!
I love taking an often unwanted piece of quality vintage furniture and transforming it into a statement piece for the modern home. These pieces are full of history and character. What I do doesn’t take away from that, I am conscious of the nature of the piece and whether it is a restoration project or I paint and decorate it, my goal is for the piece to be loved and used for many more years, rather than it being left to ruin.
How do you want people to feel once they purchase your furniture?
It’s actually remarkable how emotive a wonderful piece of furniture can be. I have had customers tell me that opening up the packaging and taking off protective bubble wrap to get to their piece reminds them of childhood Christmas mornings. You can’t quantify that emotion or put a price on it, the excitement is unique to every individual, to see their vision realised and the feelings that it creates is something very special.
I want people to be impressed and love the piece as much as I have loved creating it. I want them to feel proud of their decision to choose a sustainable way to furnish their home, recognising the positive impact that decision has had.
I have met so many people who never knew that painting furniture was even an option. This has opened their eyes to being able to get a creatively bespoke piece of furniture to their exact specifications, you can’t get that on the high street.
I pride myself on working closely with clients, listening to what they require and using my professionalism and creativity to exceed their expectations. I love seeing the excited expressions on their face when we are discussing colours and designs, then the happiness when they receive their piece delivered direct to their home.
Looking back since launching the brand, is there anything you would do differently?
No, everything has happened exactly as it should have. I’ve made mistakes and learned from them. I have learned that I need to trust in myself, my ability and the processes I go through. I am a big advocate of just putting one foot in front of the other, it doesn’t matter how small those steps are, if they are positive action, they will get you where you need to go.
Tell us more about your interior style at home…
It’s a work in progress! We moved into our family home 8 years ago and everything needed refreshed. I was pregnant with our twins at the time, so we kept a simple design at first, cream walls and cream carpets throughout. Now we are taking it room by room, injecting our personality into our home. Last year we completely renovated our kitchen, it now fits what our family needs – a large cooking area, dining area and comfortable seating area for those infrequent quiet moments! It goes without saying that my business has infected the whole household and my twins have their own pieces, painted by their own hands their bedrooms, I wouldn’t say they are immaculate finishes but they are certainly unique and loved by my 2 crazies!
If you to describe your brand in three words, what would they be?
Wow, can I use nine words please:
Unique, sustainable, creative, personable, friendly, inspiring, passionate, transparent, quality
What advice would you offer to anyone wanting to launch a business?
Focus on a few things at a time, don’t stretch yourself too much or you will get overwhelmed. The first year is tough, but if you do it right by working smarter, not harder, the rewards are exhilarating. Trust your instincts, ask for support and be open and honest. People need to know and trust you so don’t be afraid to be yourself.
How would you describe your personal style?
I’m not an extrovert, my style suits my mood and my diary, I love to dress up all glam and head out on date night, but I also love my ‘slouchies’. Most of my casual wear is paint spattered and I’m okay with that, it’s who I am now.
Talk us through an average day in your life…
I have 7 year old twins, Murray and Isla, 4 cats and a dog, a 20 year bank career and a new business. Life is busy. Each day I try to build in self care, it’s so important. If I don’t function well, everything else suffers. I feel more focused and in control if I can meditate first thing in the morning. I also enjoy getting up early to walk the dog before everyone else is about. I have the most amazingly supportive husband, we definitely share the house work and childcare. I work for a bank during the day and the evening and weekends are my One of a Kinds Designs time.
How much has social media played a role in the success of your brand?
It’s massive. Social media has opened up my business to groups of people I could never have dreamt of reaching without it. It gives small businesses like mine a platform from which to shout about our business, showcase what we can offer, reach and engage with customers and build relationships.
Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?
Great question! I love to travel and I have a few favoUrite places that I would love to visit again including Lake Garda in Italy, South of France and Croatia. I went on honeymoon to Egypt and my husband still teases me that I didn’t go into the Great Pyramid at Giza so that could make it on the list. I’m not really a sun worshipper so one destination that I would love to visit is Scandinavia and Russia. The scenery, culture and architecture would be amazing.
What is your go-to quote when lacking motivation?
Practice makes progress is a big motivator in our house. It’s about continuing to put one foot in front of the other. My husband always says ‘A march of a thousand miles begins with the first step’, I like that.
What’s next for you and the brand?
To share my passion for refinishing furniture. I want to teach others. I run online courses and workshops and I offer 121 programmes as well.
What does self care mean to you?
Looking after yourself by doing what you need to do when you need to do it. It’s about being attuned to your body and mind so you recognise when you need to take action for yourself. For me this can mean a walk, meditation, yoga, or spending time with my husband and family.
Where can people find out more?
If you head to my website www.oneofakinddesigns.co.uk you will see my furniture collection. There is also information there on the training courses and workshops I offer.
I am also on Instagram and I have a Facebook page and two groups which you can join to learn more about what I do or to learn to paint furniture yourself.