For the last 15 months, Kelly Wright—also known as Kelly Peter or KP on air at Virgin Radio London—has been working away at her other job, Forest + City Company. The Instagram page for the business describes her work as “Home decor for the minimalist”, which is all made out of locally reclaimed wood:
“I am a big fan of re-using and upcycling so that everything that we sell is actually upcycled. So, we have a couple of furniture companies that we work with in London and we get all of their scraps, more or less, that we actually turn into things like butcher blocks….” She explained.
The company was created after Kelly rescued some pieces of wood that were meant to be destroyed: “My friend who makes custom furniture was actually having a bonfire one night at his house and he had a bunch of scraps like Live-Edge Walnut, ready to be burned. So I took them out and took them home and like, literally made them into something…. So then we partnered up…”
Now, just over a year later, Forest + City Company has a huge online presence and has started to become a fixture at the annual craft shows at The Western Fair District. With over 4800 followers on Instagram, Kelly said, “If it wasn’t for Instagram—I joke—if it wasn’t for Instagram I wouldn’t have a company or a business. 95% of my sales come from Instagram, so I’m super grateful that people like what they see and they like to purchase, or even just inquire about what we do. It’s really cool. (I say we but it’s just me.)” Kelly takes all of the photos herself, but sometimes happy customers are also featured with their new merchandise.
Through her connections in the radio industry, Kelly befriended Jeff and Isabel Traher, who help organize the annual Christmas and spring craft shows at the fair: “They are so lovely and I’ve known them for 12 years. I’ve been doing the ‘live on locations’ for the Christmas Craft Show and the Easter Craft Show, and he was like, ‘You know what? You’re creative and if you ever want to sell anything, let me know! We can make you a booth.’ Then it kind of turned into me doing a Christmas craft show and now it’s my fourth show here at the fair. It’s been amazing! I think they usually have a few thousand [people] come through, so it’s quite a bit! It’s awesome!”
While most of Kelly’s sales take place online, there’s nothing quite like seeing (and smelling) the products in person. When asked if she has a favourite item, she replied, “Honestly, I love the charcuterie boards! I love the Live-Edge, the maple, the dark walnut! I love it! It smells good! Everyone comes and they smell it! It’s all from London trees too, which is cool. It’s just so pretty! I know I’m just sitting here petting it. It’s good times.”
Kelly has been a host on Virgin Radio for several years, but she also had her own show on BX93 for quite some time. She grew up with the demographic of Virgin Radio and mentioned, “I do feel a little more at home back on Virgin, but I definitely miss BX. It’s a fun station, so luckily I’m across the hall from them. So I still see Lynzee every day, and Rachel and Forman and everyone.”
After her work day is done at the radio station, Kelly dedicates her time to Forest + City Company, however, she admitted, “I don’t think I know what balance means yet, but it’s always been a hobby of mine. So, it’s nice to have my career and come back to this fun outlet…. I usually only do a handful [of craft shows] a year because balancing working full-time and this can be a little hectic—and being a mom!”
Regarding her long-term goals for the company, Kelly said, “You know what? It’s terrible that I’ve never really thought about that but I kind of just take each day as it comes. I love making this, so as long as people are willing to buy it and they’re willing to check out my photos on Instagram and visit me at craft shows, I’ll keep doing it. Obviously my goal is to keep doing this is as long as I can. I don’t ever want it to feel like work so hopefully the feeling I have now never ends.”
Finally, she offered the following advice to her fellow entrepreneurs: “Just be super persistent and don’t give up because there are times where you’re just like, ‘is it worth it?’ You kind of get bummed out and you have to realize that it definitely pays off! You just have to be patient, just like anything in life.”
Photo by Annette Dawm.
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