Getting On The Upcycle Bandwagon

Chest of Drawers upcycled with chalk paint and Aussie FlagStacey Alexander from The Upcycle Bandwagon is our Sustainable Home Hub guest today! Located  in The Blue Mountains, she started her business in 2013. Stacey is a mum, wife, daughter, little sister and a twin sister. She loves to paint and create with loads of colour. Growing up in country NSW and then moving to live in the city for almost 20 years, she says she is now living the best of both worlds in the beautiful Blue Mountains. She has a wonderful husband Matt, who is very supportive of her work and a gorgeous five year old daughter Molly, who keeps her on her toes! I had a chat with her about her business and her thoughts on sustainability and upcycling – you can find her on the Sustainable Home Hub. 

How did you start the business and what inspired you?

I started The Upcycle Bandwagon while I was on maternity leave. We had moved from the city to the Blue Mountains, where we had bought our first home. Coming from a small city apartment we needed to now fill a three bedroom home on a budget, as we were now living on one income. I couldn’t find anything I liked in the stores that was affordable, so I started searching the secondhand stores and researched furniture paint (which was child friendly and didn’t impact the environment). I bought my first lot of Chalk Paint online, watched so many ‘how to’ YouTube videos and that’s how it all began. The Upcycle Bandwagon was born!

What made you fall in love with the idea?

Once I started painting it became my happy place. It is so therapeutic and being able to create beautiful colourful pieces of unique furniture became my passion. I honestly love what I do! I also had the added bonus of being able to do it from home therefore I could be a stay at home mum to Molly and not have to go back to my job in the city.

Was there anything you didn’t love about it?

The worst bit is cleaning and prepping the furniture – sometimes I find pieces at the local tip/reuse center or on secondhand sites and they can be in terrible condition but structurally they’re great. Some weeks I can spend more time cleaning furniture than painting furniture! But this is a vital part of the process to enable a perfect finish.

Any eco friendly, sustainable materials or aspects to your business and what you offer?

I only paint secondhand furniture and only use Chalk Paint (currently researching mineral paint). With my custom work I either source the furniture secondhand for my client or transform a piece/s they already own.

What are your thoughts on sustainability and how is this part of your business and own home?

I think we all need to start having sustainability in mind. It is a big part of The Upcycle Bandwagon and my home. All paint products I use are low impact on the environment. I currently turn my leftover paint sample jars into candles. I use leftover fabrics to make gorgeous tile coasters (the tiles I buy secondhand from bathroom renovations). We have a compost bin at home for food scraps. We don’t use plastic bags and we recycle what we can. I will always search secondhand for furniture instead of buying new.

Do you have any tips for other people wanting to create a sustainable home?

I think if we all did a little it would lead to a lot. We all have busy lives and different lifestyles, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if we aren’t living completely sustainable lives. If we all just change a few things such as switching to fabric bags instead of plastic, having a compost or recycling jars for storage it can make a huge difference. I think the key is to start small and do what you can. I think start with small changes to your lifestyle/home. Creating a more sustainable home can take time, go at your own pace and do what you can. I myself still have a lot to learn a long way to go. It’s a journey!

Biggest challenge in setting up and running your business?

Initially my biggest challenge was finding the time! Molly was only a year old when I started, and my husband still travels to the city for work so I had no help during the day. Nap times are when I used to get most of my painting done and weekends were spent searching for furniture. We soon got into a routine, with some help from Play School and Play Dough, which meant I was able to get quite a lot done! Today it’s a lot easier to juggle both.

What do people say when they see your work?

Usually the first reaction is “it’s colourful!”. I love using colour! I also get a lot of comments on how unique my pieces are and unlike anything you can buy in stores.

Would you like to share a favourite piece of work or item that you offer?

It’s hard to choose a favourite piece of furniture… I love all of them, so I’ll just share two of my most recent pieces that sold last month.

I love this story of how Stacey has created a business that she loves, and that works for her family – to check out where you can find her, head to the Sustainable Home Hub

Helen

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