If you ask Paul Inman what his aim in business is, it’s to help people. Here he tells Sarah Clemson a little about his business journey
Paul Inman was in need of a fresh start when, one Friday in 2009, his world changed when he was made redundant due to the recession.
By the following Monday morning he had formed his own business Fresh Furnishings and, that same day found his first client, who had just purchased, and was about to transform, Hope Street Hotel in Liverpool.
Almost a decade later and Ribble Valley-based Paul and Fresh Furnishings now provide bespoke interiors solutions for commercial enterprises throughout the UK.
Paul began working in textiles and soft furnishings in 1990, as he explains: “A chance meeting with an old school friend led me to help him and his business partner in their new venture. They’d both put £2,000 each into the business and had bought some clearance ready-made curtains. They’d sold them to a retail store in the North East.
“The three of us worked tirelessly in that first year to get the business off the ground.”
In their first year they’d turned over £1.1million and the business went on to turnover £3.5million by 1993.
After working in a variety of different industries, Paul went on to work for a large textile company in Bolton and it was here that he started supplying hotel chains. But redundancy forced him down a route that was to see Paul and his wife Sophie set up Fresh Furnishings.
“Sophie and I had just moved house, and were getting married in the November. But by the Monday morning we had formed Fresh Furnishings and I had a meeting with my first client, Dave Brewitt the owner of Hope Street Hotel. We installed the poles and curtains in their new extension and have since worked on Dave’s other ventures such as various student accommodation new builds in Liverpool and Stoke.
“I still work with Dave and I’m proud that our business relationship has lasted nine years and counting.”
“Since setting up we haven’t looked back. Running your own business is a challenge and can often be lonely but it is also very empowering to now do for myself what I have worked hard to do for others in the past. But my business goals remain the same, what I enjoy most is helping my customers and achieving the very best for them. Sophie and I now have twin boys, Harry and Ollie who are two-and-a-half so life is very busy!”
Fresh Furnishings provide the hotel and leisure industry with high quality, bespoke soft furnishings, upholstery, re-upholstery and supporting products.
Fresh’s largest project was Baileys Hotel in London, a luxurious 210 bedroom hotel where the company manufactured and installed all the curtains and voiles, as well as bed throws and cushions. Paul has worked with large hotel groups such as Hilton Hotels, Park Plaza Hotels, Millennium and Copthorne hotels and Thwaites Hotels as well as independent and boutique hotels and student accommodation across the UK.
While much of Fresh Furnishings’ work is carried out throughout the UK, Paul is also keen to work closer to home in the Ribble Valley on commercial interiors projects.
Paul and his small team are dedicated to quality and attention to detail utilising local manufacturers: “Promoting local businesses is important to us, and we are keen to support our community.”
Characteristically, Paul recently had no hesitation in responding to a tweet asking for help for a local charity project. The charity, Nightsafe in Blackburn, supports homeless and vulnerable people aged between the ages of 16 and 24 years.
The appeal asked individuals and businesses if they could help with the Witton Project – a large terraced house that has been purchased as a safe haven for young adults in need of short stay residences. Once there the young people are assigned a support worker to provide individual help and gain the skills and confidence to move on in their lives.
Fresh Furnishings supplied Nightsafe with furniture, bedding and throws: “Suppporting our community is important to us. We were delighted to be able to help,” concludes Paul.