3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Hampshire Life today click here

Fiona Whitehead turns upcycling into successful business

PUBLISHED: 15:29 24 February 2015


After giving up her career to start a family, Fiona Whitehead thought her time in employment was over – that was until a TV programme inspired her to turn her hobby in to a booming business

Before the phenomenon of ‘upcycling’ became fashionable, 20 years ago Fiona Whitehead was busy experimenting with old furniture that didn’t suit her home’s décor; giving it a new lease of life with a coat of paint and a bit of stencilling here and there, as was the style then.

Over the years, she watched with interest as the media started to pick up on the hobby which she had enjoyed for several decades: “It was Kirstie Allsop’s TV programme that really made me realise that there could actually be a business in my hobby,” she explains. “Finding Annie Sloan’s paint was a revelation too. Previously, I had used normal emulsion but much prefer the chalk paint as it makes the furniture more interesting. It allows the character of the old wood to shine through and not just be painted over.”

With a qualification in Home Styling but no formal training in painted furniture, other than her own experience, Fiona decided to bite the bullet and turn her interest in to a business.

Inspiration often comes from the pieces themselves which are, “just crying out for a certain look” according to Fiona; while books, magazines and websites provide constant ideas to broaden her outlook and find new designs.

When it comes to finding the pieces to work on in the first place, Fiona cites freecyle.org as a great place to discover unwanted furniture looking for a bit of TLC. She continues: “It is very satisfying to take something which is going to be thrown away and make it useful and loved again. I scour antique fairs, car boot sales and auction houses and would love to be able to travel to the continent and source items from there; France has fabulous markets with wonderfully crafted pieces.”

All of Fiona’s transformations take place in a large shed at the bottom of her garden in Upper Clatford, and she can often be found exhibiting at local fairs around the county; although she does have very active facebook, twitter and pinterest sites, an online shop on etsy.com as well as remadebritain.com.

Dreams for the future include moving to a larger premises and running the business full time as she says: “I love the freedom and independence that running my own business gives me. Starting up a new venture at 52 with no previous experience has been a steep learning curve, but I’m loving every minute of it.”

The facts

• Name: Fiona Whitehead

• Business name: Birch and Hare

• Length of time in business: 8 months

• Number of employees: One

• Ethos: To reclaim the past

• Location: Upper Clatford, Hampshire

• Contact: www.birchandhare.co.uk or www.remadeinbritain.com/birch-and-hare



Lymington artist Michael Turner on turning stainless steel in to super sculptures - From a gigantic angel to a cantilevered leaping horse, artist Michael Turner is turning stainless steel in to super sculptures from his studio in Lymington.

Are chefs in Hampshire getting too big for their boots asks Chris van Schaick - Are our county’s chefs getting too big for their boots, or are they entitled to the new found awe received from the public? Chris van Schaick ponders.

More from Out & About

Friday, September 21, 2018

10 of best photos of Hampshire shared on Instagram over the past week...

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

This year Winchester’s Theatre Royal celebrates the 40th anniversary of its re-opening as a performance theatre

Read more
Monday, September 17, 2018

Avon Valley, Beer and Cake is the ABC of why Ringwood, a busy market town on the western edge of the New Forest, makes a quirkily clever choice for a break away

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

Lego enthusiast Duncan Titmarsh has built his business brick by brick; from tinkering in his garden shed to internationally acclaimed sculptures

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

New Forest ponies are an iconic sight, yet modern-day pressures pose a constant threat to the traditional landscape. Viv Micklefield heads to Lyndhurst to take stock of what happens inside England’s oldest forest court

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

From Austen’s treasures to castles built by Henry VIII, Heritage Open Days (6-9 and 13-16 September 2018) allow you to step behind the doors of some of the county’s most iconic but hidden premises.

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

With the New Forest, South Downs and a picturesque coastline, Hampshire is an amazing place for a walk. We round up a few of our favourites

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

We round up some of the best events and things to do across Hampshire this month

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

If there’s one thing we love to do here at Hampshire Life, it’s to celebrate local produce! So here are a selection of some of the best farm shops across the county where you’ll find just that

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

With a vibrant local community, this is a shining example of a true Hampshire village

Read more
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Coeliac disease affects 1 in 100 people, and many more are seeing the health benefits after waving goodbye to gluten. Here are just a few of the county’s cafes, pubs and producers who are embracing the gluten free way

Read more
Monday, August 20, 2018

Looking for some peace and tranquility this summer? Lose yourself in one of these wonderful gardens

Read more
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The castles and forts around the county make for a fascinating ghost hunt by night, and a fun family trip by day

Read more
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

When Southsea’s South Parade Pier closed in 2012, derelict and a shadow of its former glory days, who’d have thought that six years on it would be Pier of the Year

Read more
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Latest Competitions & Offers

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search