Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do
I used to be a radio newsreader and traffic and travel reporter. Then in 2016 I started Pallet Earth
with a skilled carpenter and artist. Generally I take care of the marketing and admin side of the business which includes taking our stock to a range of markets, shows and fayres across the North East.
Tell us about your business
We reclaim all forms of timber – a lot of pallets, hence the name – but anything that would otherwise end up dumped or burned. We use this to create a range of furniture, decor and gift items.
What are the most sparkly bits of what you do?
Our signature design is a coronation-style throne chair. So far, these are being used:
• by shopping centres for Santa’s grotto
• by schools and nurseries as storytelling chairs
• by couples at their wedding reception
• indoors and outdoors in people's homes
• at a photo studio in the centre of Edinburgh for tourists trying out traditional Scottish dress
• and even on stage at Stratford upon Avon for performances of Henry V
What are the biggest challenges you face running your business?
The sheer amount of wood – especially pallets – that could be reclaimed in the North East would take an army to strip and reuse. We do still seek out specific types of pallets and other wood – mainly the longer lengths. We have a steady stream of the standard sizes though, brought to us just from the businesses on our industrial estate. We rescue and repurpose approximately 120 pallets per week. However, almost every day we have to turn down requests to collect pallets from somewhere across the region.
What have been your biggest achievements and how have you celebrated them?
One of the projects we completed was a palletwood steam train where the engine cover lifted up to store freezer boxes. This was originally made for an event but afterwards was on display outside our workshop and at some of the markets we attend. My favourite moment was at the Green Beans Market which takes place at Whitley Bay station where I videoed our train on the platform with the Metro pulling up alongside it.
What are your goals – for yourself and your business?
At the heart of our business is an aim to reduce wood waste. People are starting to appreciate the value and versatility of wood. The primary goal has to be to spread the message to ‘use wood wisely’ even further.
Personally, with a journalistic background, I want to get back to writing more and this business gives me the opportunity to do some through the website, blog and other promotion I do for Pallet Earth.
What is your favourite place in the North East and why?
Cullercoats – I was very privileged to grow up there with the Longsands on the doorstep. I feel constantly drawn back to our region’s rugged, yet beautiful, coastline and I’ll never grow out of exploring rock pools or filling my lungs while wandering along the shoreline.
Who puts a Sparkle in your eye?!
Those customers who come up and say 'we love what you do, but could you make ...' and then describe something that goes on to become a popular part of the range. The couple from South Shields who inspired our mobile kitchen island being first on that list.
A final Sparkly thought – what tips would you give to busy, hard-working entrepreneurs?
Be brave enough to fail. Nobody gets everything right, yet we have a strange culture (I think especially in the UK) that frowns on failure. Surely it's better, whatever the result, to give something a go and learn from the experience?
Finally, keep breathing (not joking, I've been told I forget to do this at times!)
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