“We are dedicated to repairing, reusing and reselling the things we already own,” said the woman running a new shop with a difference that recently opened in Acton.
Kal Di Paola opened Re’Store in Churchfield Road in December and, along with battling waste, she is aiming to encourage local people to set up, or grow, small businesses in the area and help to reinvigorate the town centre.
Ealing Council offered the use of the shop on a nominal, or ‘peppercorn’, rent. It opens Wednesday-Saturday but is more than a shop. It is a hub for reselling and remaking household objects and clothes – and also runs workshops and classes.
“Every year we chuck away as much as we buy,” said Kal. “The old model of produce-consume-throw is outdated. We all need to do our bit to reduce this overconsumption.
“There are three reasons why it made sense to set up Re’Store: The cost of living crisis; the need for more sustainability because of the climate emergency; and also mental health – making things with your hands gets you off your phone and in a different headspace and coming here gets you talking to likeminded people, too. I have felt the benefits of it myself.
“It is all about teaching new skills, or refreshing people’s existing ones, so they can be inspired to reuse and remake, or set up their own business in the circular economy space – it is as much about entrepreneurship as it is about living more sustainably. But the key is turning waste into a material that can be used to create something new.”
Of course, it is also a shop – and people have been coming in to buy the preloved, vintage and remade items.
“There is a constant flow of customers, not least because it’s new and people want to know what’s going on,” said Kal. “There is something to interest everyone here – from children to older people.”
Making a remaking army
Re’Store is hosting anywhere up to 10 workshops a month, which have included expert guidance from an upholsterer, a knitwear designer and a furniture restorer.
Kal explained: “We are trying to establish a network of local makers and we have set up a Re’Makers Club.
“At the moment, it is mainly upcycling clothes, jewellery, furniture and art.
“Some people have come who bought sewing machines but never got round to using them much – and we help them to take farther what they had already started themselves. Sometimes it is about confidence, sometimes about finding space to do it.
“They often have amazing skills but don’t have places to show them off or lack digital skills to get their name out there – we give them that space and support, people can learn from each other and perhaps support each other’s businesses as well.
“Come spring we will be opening an outdoor Re’Makery in the back garden and will have woodwork and metalwork tools for bigger jobs. We’d also like to take over the parking bay outside the store. There are endless ideas, but we are doing it one step at a time.”
Growing ideas and businesses
Kal is also hoping to pilot a Re’School of Entrepreneurship with workshops for local people covering digital marketing and business skills. They will learn how to build a brand from scratch. It will have a particular emphasis on business ideas within the ‘green’ economy.
Eventually, the wider aim is to push the Re’Store idea further.
“High Streets are struggling but if you have the right offering, people will come to it. We are already seeing a lot of demand and can see the project evolving to a bigger space,” said Kal. “I would ultimately like to see Re’Stores on many, many high streets.”
Where did it all begin?
You could say Kal has turned from poacher to gamekeeper, in a way.
“I used to be a fashion designer and started off in fast fashion,” said Kal. “But I fell out of love with that because of the lack of sustainability, so I went onto to start my own business with an online marketplace for more environmentally-conscious fashion. I then moved on to help local businesses, especially in Churchfield Road, with their launches, or with ongoing marketing and promotion. In all, I’ve got three decades of experience in start-up businesses. So, Re’Store is an evolution of everything I’ve ever done.
“I originally pitched the idea in 2019 to The Oaks Development which opened on Churchfield Rd and lacked any independent store but that didn’t get anywhere and so I then pitched it to the GLA. We piloted the Re’Store concept as a pop-up resale market in the Rocket pub over 6 months, after which we won the GLA funding and the council agreed to rent this unit to us at peppercorn rent.
“I hope we can play our part in promoting the circular economy, encouraging entrepreneurship and connecting the community. There are many great independent businesses in Churchfield Road, and a strong creative community in Park Royal who we hope to collaborate with to create a wider circular economy network.”