Successful Ripon business built on the art of furniture restoration
Last updated Jul 22, 2022
Aelita Redeniece outside the Repair Shop

A dozen years ago, when Aelita Redeniece left Latvia she was prepared to take any job to get her foot onto the UK employment ladder.

The degree that she gained at the Art Academy of Latvia in Riga, opened the door to work as a graphic designer and then marketing manager in the Baltic country, but with the move across Europe, her professional and artistic skills were put on hold as she worked first in an egg packing factory and later in a care home.

She told the Stray Ferret:

“I was learning to speak English, but was not fluent at that time and that meant I didn’t have the confidence to apply for jobs more suitable for my qualifications.”

But, with encouragement from her partner and a couple of lucky breaks, she has finally been able to unleash her talent and is now running The Repair Shop – a highly successful business located within Halls of Ripon.

The focus is on refurbishing, re-upholstering  and returning furniture to use – from much-treasured family heirloom pieces to chaise lounges given a new lease of life.

Through studies in Riga that earned her a fine arts degree, Aelita was taught how to use her hands to form clay into ceramic bowls, jugs and other items.

Now she has turned her hand and eye for detail to a different medium, making the step from potter’s wheel to busy workshop.

Aelita Redeniece in The Repair Shop

But why upholstery?

It may be that fate guided her, as Aelita explains:

“I bought a book in a charity shop about how to repair furniture and within days of reading it, I met, by pure chance, a craftsman upholsterer.

“After a brief conversation he very kindly agreed to take me on as his apprentice and teach me the skills he had gathered over more than 50 years.

“At first, I was doing simple tasks, but as I progressed, he gave me more complex things to do and eventually complete re-upholstery jobs.

“He is a lovely man and when I completed my apprenticeship and set up on my own working from home, he also put work my way.”

A showcase at Halls of Ripon

A second slice of serendipity came when Aelita enquired about the possibility of setting up her repair shop at Halls of Ripon.

She pointed out:

“I spoke with Mike Cooper because I noticed that there were second-hand sofas and chairs on sale there and he saw the synergy between this aspect of the business and the services that I provide.

“He, and the other independent traders at the department store, could not have been more helpful or friendly and with an affordable weekly rent, I was able to create my own showcase, with a unit that includes Victorian-style windows that were purchased from Lightwater Valley.”

Aelita has a growing order book from local, regional and national customers.

She is pictured above with an elegant French-style antique chair that she has fully refurbished for a customer who lives in Scotland and is a regular visitor to Ripon.

Aelita pointed out:

“Having seen The Repair Shop programme on TV, they wondered if I could renovate the chair and source a hunting print fabric for it.”

It now has pride of place back in the customer’s home, while many other sofas and chairs, have been diverted from a trip to the tip and returned to their former glory.

Read more:



Download the FREE Stray Ferret app here to access the latest news, competitions and offers.