Refurbished vintage appliances

A Better Cycle: Making a Business Out of Upcycling Furniture

Upcycling furniture once seemed like a fad that only the biggest names in interior design could do well.

Upcycling is the practice of converting used materials into higher value items in their second life. Like house flipping, however, it became a profitable business for people around the world. Not only are these modern designers creating original and functional furniture, but they’re also helping the environment by reducing waste and the use of new materials. Customers have a positive attitude towards eco-friendly products too.

About 34% of Australian consumers say that they want their brands to be sustainable, according to a report by analytics firm Mintel. Over 17% of them are willing to pay a premium for environmentally-friendly goods, too. If you want to get in on the action, consider the following tips.

Raid the Vintage Shops and Flea Markets

One of the best things about upcycling is finding unique items to restore. Start by asking your parents or even grandparents if they have old furniture they want to throw out or sell. If you come up empty, you can always scan the vintage shops and flea markets in your area for some good deals. Once you’ve found an item you want to work on, inspect it for damage first. The acceptable amount depends on your DIY skills. If you think you have the woodworking skills to replace a rotting table leg, take the challenge. You’ll likely get them for a better price than items in better condition. For the uninitiated, you may want to stick with ones that only need repainting or have missing parts you can easily find in other stores or online.

Never Skimp on Equipment

While you may be working with items that you got for a low price, you should never use subpar materials. You don’t want to end up with a flesh wound because you tried to brute force a blunt saw into a durable piece of wood. Better quality equipment makes the work easier and safer. If you don’t have the capital to buy new tools yet, you can always opt for services like welder rentals. This way, you don’t have to worry about storage and maintenance.

Use Competitor Prices as a Base

If you’re unsure how to price your products, go on websites like CraigsList and look for similar items. Adjust your price based on theirs. If you think your furniture deserves a higher price, justify it with how much labour you put in. Record the process by logging the time you started and finished working on a product. Take before and after pictures. When your customers see that you worked hard to create your piece, they won’t even think of haggling.

The Internet is Your Business Partner

Vontage and old frames made into mirror frames
Once you’ve added the finishing touches and priced your item, it’s time to put it back on the market again. You can always sell it to vintage shops again, but you may find more buyers online. In fact, a recent report from the Australian Postal Corporation found that Aussies spent over $21.3 billion on online products. You can usually get good deals on sites like eBay and TradeMe, but their listing prices and commissions aren’t newbie-friendly. If you’re looking for a marketplace that specialises in upcycled goods, Buy Upcycled is the best place to go. It connects you with both local and international customers.

More and more people are starting to see the value of upcycled goods. Get on the market and establish your brand while it’s still early. Follow the entries on this list, and you’re sure to find customers. After all, who doesn’t want to buy a product that’s both unique and sustainably made?

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