The Unique Gift Company create a wonderful range of beautiful handcrafted furniture and homewares. From stunning one off pieces of furniture to whimsical signs, all from reclaimed and foraged materials. We asked them to tell us more about how their lovely business came to be…
Is there a story behind your company name?
The Unique Gift Co is Dave Christian and Jacquelyn Cook, we make gifts and furniture from recycled/reclaimed wood and anything else we can lay our hands on – the idea behind the name was that we wanted each piece we made to be a one-off or ‘unique’.
Where are you based?
We are based in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.
Do you run the business full time?
The business is a full-time job for Dave, Jac works part-time for the business and part-time elsewhere. We have been trading three years but this is the first year we have gone ‘full-time’. It was a bit of a risk but we really wanted a change of lifestyle so decided to go for it. It’s a bit scary sometimes but no regrets!
How did you get started?
Dave started making gifts for friends and family after his niece found a piece of driftwood on the beach at Chapel-St-Leonards. With a bit of encouragement he started selling at car-boots and local markets, and we’ve never looked back!
Did you attend University or are you self taught?
Dave attended catering college and was a chef for 15 years before leaving the trade for a more ‘stressfree’ lifestyle. Jac studied Interior Architecture at University but never secured a design job. It’s great to be putting her drawing skills to use at last, in both designs for furniture and pyrographed artwork.
As far as the woodwork goes Dave is completely self-taught and makes it up as he goes along! He has the imagination and creative flair, and is always thinking of new things to make.
What do you create?
We create a range of bespoke gifts, home-wares and furniture. We mostly use pallets and reclaimed scaffolding boards, as well as driftwood, or wood that has been foraged/donated. Some of the pieces are decorated with pyrographed designs by Jac.
We set out to use recycled materials of any sort but over the years this seems to have focused on wood. We re-use nails and other bits of ironmongery or rope as/when available.
We’ve used curtain tie-backs for a wine rack and books for table legs! We both dislike wasting anything and get a buzz from bringing something back to life which would otherwise end up in landfill or on a bonfire.
What is your most popular product?
Our most popular ‘products’ are the pallet signs as these seem to appeal to the mass-market. It’s a difficult question to answer however as many of our pieces are completely one-off and couldn’t be repeated even if we wanted to.
Are you working on any new lines?
We’re always working on new lines and adding new products to our range. Something to look out for in the near future is trinket boxes made from pallet blocks!
Do you undertake commissions?
We take on a whole range of commissions, from something as simple as a custom sign to refurbishing a local cafe. We enjoy this kind of work most of all, especially when someone comes to us with an original idea and says ‘could you make…?’ We’re promoting this more and more via our website and local events.
All of a sudden there seems to be a huge public interest in upcycling / eco-art and we are really pleased to be a part of it. It’s our way of life anyway, and to be able to turn that into a business is pretty much living the dream!
Where can your work be seen & purchased?
Find the Unique Gift Company on EcoCreate