Sharon Rickwood and Andrew Deeley
Can you really start a company from virtually nothing?
Semi-retired business consultant Andrew Deeley hopes to show enterprising Sheppey residents they can do just that with his latest venture – turning old hose pipes from Green Goddess fire engines into wallets.
The 45-year-old is joining a recent trend called upcycling –the process of finding new uses for reclaimed materials – with the community interest company RECRE8.
The dad-of-three bought 27 1950s Auxiliary Fire Service hoses for £390 from eBay at the start of the year.
He teamed up with out-of-work seamstress Sharon Rickwood, 53, of Alsager Avenue, Rushenden, who made more than 200 from the first length of pipe.
The finished articles went on sale for the first time at a War and Peace show in Folkestone last month.
A total of £420 was made from the sale of 29 wallets which, after experimenting with the price, went for around £14.50.
Every wallet is printed with the serial number and date from when the hose was made.
Barry Stubbings, an unemployed 19-year-old from Leysdown, hand-made presentation boxes for the wallets, using materials from Medi-Chem in Rushenden.
Matt Brown, of Sheppey Souvenirs, has been involved with the printing.
Mr Deeley has sunk £2,000 of his own money into the venture which has gone towards a heavy duty sewing machine and production costs.
Andrew Deeley with one of the finished wallets
The Harebell Close, Minster, resident, said: “From my personal perspective that might take 18 months to two years to recoup. I haven’t really done this as a way of making money.
“I would like to get my investment back and, if I can, make a little bit on top but the primary aim is part of an overall project over the next five years to create jobs on the Island.”
Over time, he can see up to 80 people being involved in the company, gaining new skills and gaining an equitable share of the profits.
The founder and CEO now hopes to assemble a team to go to London Spitalfields Market to sell the handmade items on to trendy traders.
Other potential future products include laptop cases made from reclaimed seat belts and jewellery made from junk watches and circuit boards.
Anyone interested in getting involved can email Mr Deeley via firstname.lastname@example.org