When Katy Hoskinson decided it was time for a change of direction, she didn’t do things by halves. Her position as an upholsterer with Plumbs, the soft furnishings specialist, is a far cry from her previous role as a chef in a busy kitchen. Yet the flourishing career that the 43 year old from Lincolnshire has stitched for herself is testament to her will to succeed in not one but two male dominated industries.
The time-honoured skills of upholstery have long since been a masculine domain, with the traditional crafts passed down over the years from master to apprentice. Routes into the industry for a woman embarking on a second career are few and it is only Katy’s sheer determination and genuine love of her craft that have enabled her to achieve what she has to date. With a glowing record behind her and a future specialising in antique restoration ahead, Katy has proven that a bit of grit makes all the difference when breaking into a new industry.
When speaking about her role, Katy’s enthusiasm is clear:
"I love working on all the furniture that comes through the workshop but I get a particular buzz from the older stuff and the antiques. It’s my chance to give it a second life and make it look as good as the day it was first produced. As an upholsterer the challenge is to unravel and convert the designer’s idea and make the piece look beautiful again, and I get a lot of satisfaction from that."
And yet things could all have turned out very differently, as it was only by accident that Katy discovered her talent for upholstery. Faced with the prospect of finding a new career, with no formal qualifications and no experience other than as a chef, she stuck a pin in a City & Guilds course book and came up with upholstery. After doing some research on the subject, she undertook an access course at York College and was well and truly bitten by the bug.
Several years later and Katy has added a BA Hons in furniture restoration and conservation to her impressive record, as well as the first pure MA degree in upholstery to be awarded in the UK. She also spent time refining her specialised training at the Ecole Boulle, a highly respected Parisian school dedicated to the arts, where her skills have been honed to perfection.
"My life has turned around since I started to learn about upholstery, it’s really become a huge part of my world," Katy says. "My partner is also a furniture maker and restorer, so our whole house revolves around a love of the craft. I just get such a sense of achievement when I see the finished piece that it makes all the effort it’s taken to get to this place in my career worthwhile."
The skill, workmanship and passion that a Plumbs craftsman puts into reupholstering your treasured piece of furniture is next to none. Plumbs offers all the benefits of a well established national company, offering furniture repair and reupholstery services, combined with a personal level of service that can only be achieved on a local level.
We'll go through our fabric collections and offer advice on colour and designs. There's no pressure to buy anything.