Our North East Business Column is back with an excellent article on an interesting and unique local business. Viewers of Dragon’s Den will have seen a business selling upcycled furniture and luggage, what made it interesting was that the furniture was upcycled from airplane parts. What people may not know is that the region has it’s very own entrepreneur making unique and interesting pieces of furniture from aircraft parts. Lucy from LPH Associates spoke to Stuart Abbott of Stu-Art Aviation furniture in our latest North East Business Column.
If you would like to read our previous article on The Chocolate Smiths you can find it here.
Meet Stu-Art Aviation
In an age where many of us are looking for more flexibility within the workplace and a better work/life balance, the idea of turning a hobby or interest into a business is appealing to many. That said, very few ever do it on quite on this scale; as today we chat with the creative tour de force that is Stu from Stu-Art Aviation.
Having been in the aviation industry for almost 20 years, Stu knows he has been really lucky to grow up around airplanes. Working with them for so long he’s fully accustomed to the ways they work and how certain parts function. This gave him the insight necessary when creating his stunning furniture pieces, as he already understands how things come apart and go back together properly. This in turn takes the quality of the pieces he produces, to the next level.
Do you see upcycling and re-purposing as a ‘trend’, a ‘movement’ of people looking to make best use of materials whilst avoiding waste and landfill, a niche art form…or something else all-together?
Stu agrees that upcycling and re-purposing is currently very popular. You only have to turn on your TV to see Kirsty Allsop ‘furnishing your home for free’ or Max McMurdo bringing a new lease of life to a previously unloved bath tub! He acknowledges that this current wave of upcycling is giving people an opportunity, because it brings with it quite a low cost base from which to express themselves and bring out the designer within. He doesn’t feel strongly one way or another about how people do this, as for him, it’s all about creating something unique and still use-able.
The early days must have been tough. Who and what inspired you, and keeps inspiring you to push forward with what you do?
Stu started out around 5 years ago now. In the early days he was only producing small items from his remote garage, but an extension lead and a car made things awkward, so he expanded into premises in Green Lane in Gateshead. Growth has been steady and he’s about to move into a larger 3000sq ft workshop that – as you would expect of the design supremo – he’s giving a unique style; fit for the work he produces. Given the industry he works within, he hasn’t really had any role models or mentors to look up to who have already travelled this same journey. This means he’s had to learn from scratch, not only how to fabricate to a high quality, but also business basics such as social media management, admin, accounting, marketing, freight and much more besides.
Any exciting up-coming projects you’d like to share with us?
Very humbly, Stu informs me that he has a programme about to be aired on Channel 4’s ‘George Clarke’s Amazing spaces’. In this show we will see him transform an aircraft cockpit section into a high end Summer house. Also dropped into the conversation is that he is soon taking delivery of a complete upper deck from former PAN-AM Boeing 747! Clearly moving into a bigger space is going to be good for the future as his creating will no longer be constrained by space…just by his own imagination.
Most memorable part of your journey so far?
For Stuart, it seems obvious that everything he has experienced so far is memorable, and that he doesn’t intend to stop making those memories any time soon. Specifically though, he mentions exhibiting at London Olympia in amongst 200 of the world’s biggest aviation companies. Displaying his furniture next to the Boeing stand made him realise he was doing the right things and was creating waves to get him noticed by the industry big guns.
Advice to anyone just starting out?
As for giving advice, Stu would simply say; ‘swallow you worries and go for it!’ After all, he states; ‘there is always something to fall back on, so just push hard and work your socks off to get to your goals.’ Wise words from a guy who is clearly well on his way to being an industry leader.
We would like to thank Stuart for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk to us and we hope you enjoyed this interview. If you did then please consider sharing this post via social media to help us spread the word about another fantastic local business.