Focus on: Petit Miracles

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Lindsey Harrad discovers how Elisicia Moore is restoring pride and furniture in West London through the Petit Miracles project.

Petit Miracles

I sold the wedding gift given to me by my husband for £500 to help fund this project!’ laughs Elisicia Moore, founder of the Petit Miracles furniture restoration project in Shepherd’s Bush, which trains people who are long-term unemployed to restore and upcycle second-hand furniture. ‘It was one of my favourite pieces, a beautiful Ray and Charles Eames lounger. Luckily my husband is sympathetic to what I do, he jokingly says I’m a “charity chick” – he knows I’m just trying to help people.’
With a background in interior design and charity work, Canadian Elisicia came to London in 2005, intending to stay only a few months. ‘When I first arrived here I worked for the homelessness charity Thames Reach. I managed their painting and decorating training programme and started doing interior design as a way to engage with more women and encourage them to use our services. That’s how I inadvertently tested Petit Miracles, and because I had incubated the idea already so I knew it would work, it just made sense.’

Upcycling and restoration

Although the charity initially started by offering accredited interior design training to local authorities, homeless organisations and abuse centres, a changing economic climate meant the business plan had to change too.
‘Originally I would take the training to their location and then we would redo a communal space in the building while the participants worked for their qualification,’ Elisicia explains. ‘But when the recession came along our funding wasn’t renewed – the organisations wanted something more tangible for their money, it wasn’t enough for people to just earn a certificate.’

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After brainstorming ideas to make the project more relevant and sustainable, Elisicia decided to reinvent Petit Miracles into an upcycling and restoration enterprise. ‘We wanted to keep design at the centre of what we do, but instead of just delivering training we started to apply our design skills to furniture. Not just any furniture but pieces we had diverted from landfill. We use the furniture as an engagement tool and we teach people who are long-term unemployed how to restore it, so they learn skills such as design, painting and upholstery, but alongside that we are also embedding employability skills.’

Read the full interview with Elisicia in Reloved issue 29 available in paper and digital format.

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