In this week’s SheShed Business Spotlight, we chat to Upholstress Lisa McGregor.
A wooden studio perfectly perched, looking out to the vines and rolling hills of the beautiful Upper Moutere in Tasman. Lisa built her SheShed Lake Cabin as a studio next to their family home, to run her business Boho Velvet Upholstery, where she hosts regular classes, and works on divine custom furniture pieces.
A passion for transforming old furniture came at a young age for Lisa, being inspired by her Mum’s creations growing up it was no surprise she soon fell in love with the craft.
“My Mum was a sail maker and she dabbled in upholstery; I was just fascinated watching her. I have always loved fabrics and being creative. I love old furniture and transforming a well loved piece into something magnificent. It's incredibly rewarding and cathartic. But the one thing that got me started was I couldn’t afford furniture. So, I thought I’d make some myself.”
In this business Spotlight, we get to know more about Lisa’s upholstery studio, her love for teaching others this beautiful craft and her SheShed build journey.
Tell us a little more about Boho Velvet Upholstery and the classes you run out in the Upper Moutere?
"I’ve been upholstering for over 20 years now, trained in the UK in Windsor in a traditional form. No foam or staples! All horse hair, stitching shapes and tacks! I started teaching upholstery by mistake. What a mistake! All my students, and there's been many over the 7 years I've been teaching, just love the transformation process. It's also a place where my students come to connect with like-minded folk."
What is your most memorable project?
"My first piece I accomplished on my own without any tuition after a couple of years of going to college to learn. My work was assessed by the master craftsman guild and they offered me an apprenticeship at Windsor castle. That was a double-edged sword as I already had a commitment to coming to NZ."
Is there any fabric designs or colours that are proving popular amongst your customers right now?
"Yes, everyone loves a velvet right now, bold colours and patterns are also big with my students and clients."
What do you love most about being an Upholsterer and do you have any advice for others looking to get into the craft?
"What I love about being an upholstress is the transformation process. Whether it's a total rebuild or a recover. The feeling of creative achievement and giving the piece a longer life. What I love about teaching my craft is seeing the same delight and accomplishment my students’ get when they are working on a piece and especially when they’ve finished a project. It's wonderful that I can create an environment that people love to come and learn in. Long term friendships have been made debating over fabrics."
"Advice that I would give someone looking into beginning this craft is give it a go. Deconstruct the top fabric and look carefully at how it was put together. This is your clues on how it will need to be constructed. And the most talked about in class with students is that the fabric must suit the piece you’re working on. This matching process can be time consuming and frustrating but one of the most important."
Why did you decide to build your SheShed Lake cabin and what do you use it for?
"Being an Upholstress/artist I wanted a studio. The lake cabin looked beautiful and I thought 29m2 would be just the perfect size for me."
Your cabin sits in the most beautiful location looking out to the vineyards, this must be such an inspiring spot to work from. What difference has having a SheShed made for your business?
"Thank you. Yes, it is peaceful and calm. The lake cabin is a stunning building and sits perfectly on our property. People stop and tell me how beautiful it is. I'm very very blessed to have such a wonderful working space."
Did you build the cabin by yourself, or have family or a friend help, or hire someone?
"We hired a team to build it. One of the team was a Ukrainian master builder (CraftMac) who knew the process of building one of the cabins. This made life easier."
What did you need to do to your property to prepare for the Lake cabin? For example, did you have to level the ground first, did you pour a concrete foundation, or use piles, or bearers?
"We put piles in and ran electricity."
Did you need to add any heating?
"We added a heat pump for heating and cooling. It doesn’t need to be on long for the cabin to be toasty or cool."
What’s your favourite aspect of the cabin?
"The height of the ceilings and the number of windows for the light."
When other people see your cabin for the first time, what do they most comment on, or what are they most surprised about?
"'Wow. how beautiful', 'Where did you get it', 'how much was it', 'was it easy to build?'. They are most surprised at the beauty of the building."
Why did you choose to buy a SheShed in particular, instead of any other brand of shed?
"Because it was the prettiest and suited our property the best and SheShed are local."
A SheShed Kitset is a wonderful option to extend a home-run business, especially with the extra room the Lake Cabin has to offer, and we loved getting to chat to Lisa to see how she is enjoying hers. Find out more information about the Lake Cabin and download a technical brochure here.
To see more of Lisa’s work or enquire about booking a class, you can find Boho Velvet Upholstery on Facebook here or contact her via emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.