Sharon O'Connor sat on reupholstered green fabric sofa

New plans for 2021

January 2021 marks eight years since I started my business, Vintique Upholstery. Three years previously, in the depths of a recession, I’d begun re-training as an upholsterer. I had been made redundant when fashion and retail crashed in 2008, I was newly single, had just relocated to a new area and was feeling pretty miserable, to be honest. Everyone around me said I was mad. It was like all my balls had been simultaneously chucked up in the air. But you know what, I couldn’t be happier with where they landed.

I can’t say I was glad for any of those factors, or grateful for an economic crash that saw people lose their jobs and incomes, but in a strange way, it was exhilarating – hopeful and promising. Bizarrely, despite being stuck in the storm of this awful pandemic, I sort of feel the same way now.

Reupholstered green, black and white armchairs

2020: What a year!

Anyone who knows me (or follows my social) will understand what a particularly painful and heartbreaking year 2020 was for me. Yes, there was Covid and all the disruption that was brought our way. But in my personal life, I was dealing with the pain of losing my mum – first to dementia, which took away the person I knew, and then, in November when she sadly passed away. It was a miserable way to end the year. 

There is very little positive to take from the fact that my Mum’s not here – I miss her every moment of the day – but tough times teach us resilience, make us more self-aware and, while traumatic, can also be quite life-changing. The end of last year was defined by the dementia Mum was suffering from, dealing with the disease, but also the responsibility of care and then the tragedy that goes with a terminal illness. When people talk about the war there’s a sense of sorrow, but also solidarity. One thing is for sure with this pandemic – whatever else you may be facing – we’re universally in this big mess together.

“I’ve always believed that life is chapters rather than one long story. What better time to start my next one than on the eve of my 50th birthday.”

I’ve always believed that life is chapters rather than one long story. What better time to start my next one than on the eve of my 50th birthday. I’ll be heading into a new decade at the beginning of February and actually, I couldn’t be more ready for it. The new decade somehow always adds a new dimension to the passage of time. But also, there are plenty of parallels now to when I started my training all that time ago. When I made that change, everything changed and I went from living without a real sense of purpose to slowly finding my way again, albeit a new way.

Chaise lounge in need of reupholstering

Reupholstered dark blue chaise lounge

Time for new adventures

2021 will be a year of big changes and new adventures for me. Those adventures may not be the travelling kind I ordinarily love. Instead, my journey will be with my business and putting the adrenalin that’s buzzing around me to good use. I have some really exciting plans in the pipeline (which I’ll be sharing with you very soon) and it seems like the right time to push forward in a slightly new direction.

Even eight years down the line since starting out, I have never felt so fired up about my business. I’m wondering what’s next, how can I improve, how can I deliver what people are asking for? This year I’m going to say yes to new things, achieve some goals, take control and make brave choices. I’m also determined to tackle that huge ‘to-do’ list.

Sharon O'Connor looking at new fabrics

If you’ve sadly lost your job or someone you love recently, or even lost your confidence or direction, I hope I can inspire you to think that maybe instead of being the wrong time, this may be exactly the RIGHT time to take a risk and switch things up. Watch this space, because I believe that better days are on their way!

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