Are you looking for advice on how to start a furniture upcycling business?
If you’re here, it’s likely you’re a handy person that likes to give household items a second chance, and you might even be upcycling furniture or items around your house already.
Upcycling furniture is a great way to reduce landfill waste and help the environment while filling someone’s needs. On the popular Pinterest and Etsy sites, the number of items tagged with “Upcycled” increased 275% from about 7,900 in January 2010 to nearly 30,000 one year later.(Source:DIYVinci)
In this article, I’ll be answering common questions about how to start an upcycling furniture business and explaining step-by-step on how to get started.
- How do I start upcycling?
- Whether it’s a profitable business model?
- What is the cost to start a furniture upcycling business?
- What equipment is needed?
- How to advertise and sell your products?
- And more
How Do I Start Upcycling?
If you’re a craft person that likes working with your hands, starting to upcycle may be relatively easy for you to do. It can be done from your home depending on the size of the furniture that you want to sell and the space that you have available.
You can upcycle furniture by taking actual trash (that you would find in the landfill, a garbage can or recycling bin), and turning it into something that’s attractive and usable. You could also take an item that no longer holds the same value as it did when it was new, (like a specific style of furniture), and you could create something more trendy from that.
There are many places where you can find pieces of furniture to upcycle. People are always getting rid of furniture and looking to upgrade, and this provides a great opportunity for you. Facebook Marketplace, local newspapers, yard sales, estate sales, antique stores, Offerup, Kijiji, or Craigslist are all great places to look for furniture to start and keep your business stocked.
Is a Furniture Upcycling Business Profitable?
As sustainability continues as a top trend in the retail industry, retailers and brands are adapting to stay relevant and offer sustainable solutions to their consumers. According to a report by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA an estimated 68 million adult Americans base purchasing decisions on their values – personal, social, and environmental – and say they will spend up to 20% more on environmentally sound products.(Source: Forbes)
Considering that many upcycled products use environmentally sound products, there is no doubt that there is a demand for upcycling products, but in order to run a profitable upcycling furniture business, you need to first set a budget. When your business expenses are less than your income then you’ll be making a profit.
Income – Expenses = Profit
If you have the space to operate your upcycling furniture business from home, I highly suggest it. Running a business from home can help with keeping start-up costs down which can be very important for a new business.
An upcycling furniture business can be quite a profitable business when you have:
- Quality products that stand out from competitors
- When your business is marketed to solve a problem
- And, when your sales are consistently more than what is needed to run your business
What Would it Cost to Start an Upcycling Furniture Business?
Start-up costs will always differ from business to business because it’s all determined by how you want to get your business started and keep it running. However, there are the basics that can get you up and running with your furniture upcycling business which are relatively inexpensive.
Estimated Startup Costs (for those starting with a low budget)
For an estimate to start-up a upcycling furniture business can be as little as $1650, here’s the breakdown.
- Website (even if it’s just hosting, a domain name ,and SEO training) – $500
- Incorporation, and business license (check your local area about requirements.- $500
- Tools and Supplies(just to start, more will be needed with each new purchase, like paint, hardware, etc…)- $150
- Furniture- $500
Marketing is another factor that can vary, you can choose to have an ecommerce store, social media pages, google ads and more. Or, you could choose to sell your products at local markets. Even having items commissioned at local stores/boutiques could be an option.
With every choice that you make with your business there will be a cost and gain. Once you have a budget you’ll be able to weigh out your options and choose what’s best for your business.
Other expenses that are common with an upcycling furniture business are:
- Digital advertising (even if it’s just hosting, a domain name ,and SEO training) – $500
- Paying for help
- and More
As you can see, upcycling furniture is quite inexpensive to start up with just the basics, but you will want to be prepared to re-invest into your business until it becomes profitable.
Other expenses that are common with upcycling furniture businesses are:
- Digital advertising
- New pieces of furniture
- Paying for help
- Branding and packaging
- and More
How to Get Started with an Upcycling Furniture Business – Step-by-Step
So now you know that the demand for upcycling furniture is there, but you might be wondering, “How will I get started?”.
If you’re ready to get started with your upcycling furniture business, here are some recommended steps to take:
1. Create a Business Plan
The first step for any successful business is to set goals that help guide your actions and make you accountable.
You’ll want your plan to give you detailed instructions about what you will do today,next week, and next month to make your upcycling furniture business a reality. Planning is an entrepreneurs’ best friend if you want to be successful and have the opportunity to expand in the future.
You can download our business planner to help you come up with a solid plan for your business.
When do you want to launch?
Setting a launch date helps with holding you accountable and can also build excitement with customers.
For a more indepth look at the importance of setting a launch date, check out this article.
Who is your ideal customer?
One of the most important parts of business is knowing who your ideal customer is. By making sure that you are targeting the ideal market for your product, you can maintain a flow of relevance, save money, and time.
Think about what you would ideally like to sell and who would need it. That’s the ideal customer that you focus your marketing too.
What type of upcycled furniture will you sell?
The type of furniture that you upcycle will be dependent on the size of the work space that you have available. It could be anything from side tables, chairs, dining room tables,dressers, and more.
You will have to take into account where you’ll be storing the furniture before you work on it, how many items will you work on at once, and where you will store the items before selling.
When you focus on upcycling and not just refurbishing items, you open yourself up to endless product options. One dresser may just need some new paint and hardware, where another could be turned into a completely different piece of furniture like a bookshelf or kitchen island. There are many options.
Will you sell other upcycled products?
There is always the option to expand to accessories and decorative items like picture frames, vases, lamps, and much more. Many household items have the possibility to be upcycled and given a new life even if it’s not for it’s originally intended purpose. You can really think outside the box when it comes to upcycling.
How much will you charge?
If you price your products fairly based on materials, your time, and market to your desired customer then you will have no problem finding clients that see the value in your product.
Don’t sell yourself short. Just because you are upcycling an item instead of building it from scratch doesn’t mean that your time and skills aren’t valuable. Your time is one of your most valuable assets as an entrepreneur.
2. Build a Website
Since last year, more people have become dependent on shopping online. For many people, the convenience alone is what still draws many customers to online shopping. Traditional stores do still have their purpose, but a virtual storefront allows businesses new and old to reach more customers in a targeted way with the correct marketing.
By having a website and online store for your business, customers aren’t limited by store hours to purchase products and can even browse through what you have to offer whenever is convenient for them.
For less than $300 you can buy a domain and get hosting. These two assets are the foundation for starting your businesses website.
3. Map your Customer Journey
If you don’t plan out a guided customer journey you can lose out on sales. Details which might seem small at first like building an email list can really help you out long term.
When you learn to streamline the customers journey, it helps the overall customer experience which makes for more repeat customers, positive reviews, and word of mouth promotion. .
My customer mapping journey used to be full of loose ends. I would make contact with a potential customer, and give them something like a business card or even discount but leave it at that. I didn’t ask for an email in exchange and would ultimately leave it up to fate whether they would reach out to me.
When I learned how to streamline my customer mapping journey it started to look more like this…
Contact with a potential customer is made, then it’s suggested for them to go to an opt-in page in exchange for a free and helpful gift (like a free eco friendly tip!), or to a sales page to make a purchase.
Streamlining the process and mapping out the customers journey helps with targeting potential customers and encouraging them to go to my website where I can follow up, or send out promotional information.
Your customer journey could look like this:
- Make contact with a potential customer (through a blog post, online ad, or social media post like Pinterest)
- Get them interested with a compelling free offer
- And, have them go to either an opt-in page for a free and helpful gift, or to a sales page to buy an upcycling creation from you.
Your business shouldn’t be a gamble and left totally up to chance. Mapping out your customers’ journey is a great way to be intentional and focused with where you want your business to go. A lot of time and money can be wasted on business cards and flyers when you can get customers to your website to check out your products in a targeted manner.
Your sales process may look more like…
- Internet ad
- Opt in page
- Offer eco tip or purchase discount
- Sales Page
Your customer mapping journey should turn a complete stranger into someone that trusts your business and products.
4. What Equipment is Needed?
The tools required will vary based on the type of furniture that you’ll be upcycling and how drastic of changes that you want to make.
Some tools you may need to start upcycling furniture are:
- Hammer and screwdriver
- Nails, screws, and glue
- Level, measuring tape, and saw
5. How to Advertise and Sell
When you first start your upcycling furniture business you will want to get the word out. Luckily, the internet is a great way to build brand awareness, especially for a new company or product. NEW always jumps out to customers.
Google and/or Facebook ads are great for targeting people with specific needs and interests that go with your business and products.
Social media can also help with building credibility and trust with your customers. It’s also a great way to build hype as well.
Even though the world seems to run online, it’s important that we don’t forget about offline as well.
Offline and online sales are very similar. Simply target the type of customers you want, and that needs your business.
You could increase brand awareness by offering to have a piece of furniture displayed in a business with business cards.
6. How Do I Get Customers to Pay Me?
The best way is to have your website set up so that it’s easy for customers to shop and check out. Shopify is a great service that offers payment processing options for online and offline customers. It’s important to make sure that you have a shopping cart software that embeds onto your website.
Here are some recommended services:
ThriveCart -. Check out the full ThriveCart Review here.
Leadpages – Leadpages can be used to design very nice landing pages, and with the pro plan, you can accept payments thru Stripe.
Grow your Email List to Get More Clients!
Use every opportunity to build your email list. And with everybody owning cell phones it makes it even easier to get them added right on the spot.
When you offer something in exchange (such as a purchase discount) for email addresses, you can build up an intensive client list very fast. It’s a huge advantage to be able to contact a list of buyers who have already shown an interest in your business when you have new products to launch.
7. Make Money
When you have products for sale on your website and you’re attracting customers, you’ll begin to make money. It might start with a couple sales but momentum will build with the right plan.
If you are interested in starting an upcycling furniture business then give it a try! You can start with a couple items to keep costs low in the beginning and once you have a business that solves a problem, and when your products are marketed to the correct customers, you’ll be successful.
Get started with our free business planner, and begin getting a clearer picture of your goals. If you have any questions, you can leave them in the comments section below.If you’re ready to get started with your business, I recommend you check out the Startup Entrepreneur’s Toolkit and learn how to master the process of getting consistent online sales.