Updated: Aug 14
Change can be bittersweet, especially when it means saying farewell to a long-standing member of a community. But sometimes, it also opens up new doors and exciting possibilities.
This was the case when Brenda, a talented furniture artist and graduate of TFAC, decided it was time to spread her wings and soar with her sister and business partner, Noleen.
Brenda, and her sister Noleen, set up their furniture painting business, “Sisters Create UK” in 2020.
Originally from South Africa, they now both live in the same village in Hampshire and share a passion for the Arts and Crafts movement and love the whole creative process of breathing new life into a long-forgotten piece of furniture.
Their business is doing very well, with lots of plans for the future, including a huge catalogue (80%) of commissions.
I wanted to take the opportunity of asking Brenda, as a graduate of the TFAC Game Changers program, what she felt she had gained from membership and what direction she and Noleen are taking in their business.
Our conversation via email provides a fascinating glimpse into their world, and it all started with Brenda's talent for belly dancing!
Brenda’s insights are encouraging, instructive and inspirational and go directly to the heart of what the TFAC is all about. With the right tools, the right plan, and the right amount of effort and hard work, you can create a successful, thriving business in our wonderfully artistic industry.
Over to you, Brenda……
Tell me a little bit about yourself, specifically where your artistic DNA comes from.
I grew up in South Africa with my two sisters. Our mum always encouraged our art and creativity. I remember at Easter, we never just hid an egg. We created elaborate houses or boats or flowers out of art materials to hide the eggs in.
In my late teens, I started dressmaking which grew into a business designing costumes for the belly dance studio I opened in my 20s.
I loved performing, the music, designing the costumes and painting the stage sets.
When you were younger, what did you want to be and how did you go about achieving it?
I never really had any strong ambitions and only started belly dancing after going to a taster class, it turned out I had a talent for it, and I gave up a corporate job to go full-time dancing. When I moved to the UK in my mid 20’s, I continued to dance and costume design.
You are now a successful furniture artist/interior designer with your own company (sisters create). What was the most challenging aspect?
I don’t really have any challenges besides managing my time. I do have the desire to create my own pieces, my business has grown so much, and 80% of it is commissioned. I try to set aside a few hours a week just to play and design and paint a piece that just makes me happy.
As a graduate of TFAC: Game Changers, what do you feel the group, training etc, has offered you in terms of your success?
TFAC gave me the tools to learn how to market my business. I found the group support and advice wonderful and valuable. The templates are very useful too.
What advice would you offer anyone who may be “on the fence” about joining the TFAC program?
It’s an investment in your business. All this knowledge at your disposal is incredibly important and valuable.
What next for you and your company, Sisters Create UK?
We’re going to continue to market ourselves to our local community, and I am busy putting together details about upcoming workshops.
Just for fun, what has been your favourite piece and why? My absolute favourite piece is a black sideboard I painted with a gorgeous panda on the one door and a zebra on the other.
The client gave me free rein to design and create a statement piece for her. I am in the process of designing another piece with two different animal/human portraits, and Noleen is designing one too.
So we’re going to be creating sideboards together. I’m very excited to do this with Noleen.
Regency sideboard commission piece upstyled by Brenda & Noleen from sisterscreateuk
How important to your business, specifically/particularly in terms of repeat business, has your willingness to do home consults been?
Home consults are so important to me, firstly because clients get to meet me, and I love chatting with people and inspiring them.
Secondly, I almost always get asked to paint another piece when I am in their home.
I have fantastic repeat business from clients and have even stood in a lady’s house, and she’s said whilst looking around, ‘Mmmm…. what else can you paint for me’.
What is your brand identity, and how did you go about creating it?
Our brand is still evolving, I don’t feel we have an established identity yet. I know I need to work on creating a brand and logo etc. I think that working with my sister is a definite positive. We get a fab response from our local community that we work together and live in the same village.
Any final thoughts or words of wisdom?
My advice is to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity. I am a ‘yes’ person; even if I have no idea how to do something, I figure it out.
I take the smaller fussy jobs, even though they can be time-consuming and fiddly. Almost every time, the little upholstery job or painted lamps ends with the client coming back with a bigger, more exciting request commission. This “can do” approach has definitely grown my business.
Thank you so much, Brenda, for taking the time to share your experience and insights with us.
Your passion for the creative process of furniture restoration is inspiring, and we wish you well as you continue your creative journey.
To learn more about Sisters Create UK and their beautiful furniture creations, be sure to check out their website and social media pages.
Join the Movement!
The Furniture Artists Collective is an inspiring community of independent creatives and skilled artisans united by their love for innovative and sustainable furniture and home decor.
We stand firmly behind businesses that share our core values and actively work to foster their growth within the industry.
Our mission is to shape the future of furniture and home decor by promoting eco-friendly practices and celebrating the beauty of sustainable design. Together, we breathe new life into cherished family heirlooms and vintage finds through the art of upcycling and restoration.
Be part of our inspiring journey and subscribe to our blog for the latest updates, trends, and stories that fuel creativity and sustainability in the world of home interiors.
Visit Our Directory of Artisans here... Connect with talented furniture artists near you, and support their passion for creating one-of-a-kind pieces.
Explore our Shop Page. Immerse yourself in a world of exquisite refinished furniture and artisan home decor - handcrafted with love.
Calling All Furniture Artists, Upcyclers, Designers, and Hand-made Home Decor Professionals!
Find out how you can collaborate with us and expand your creative horizons here...