Independent family firm Reeves & Co Upholstery on Kings Road was a renowned bastion of old-fashioned craft skills for nearly four decades after it was first established in 1979 with clients including Ripley Castle, Harrogate Hospital and Alnwick Castle.
Run by her beloved mother and father Ken and Patricia Reeves, daughter Michaela Reeves Robson was happy to help out but had followed a different path into advertising, including a spell in the advertising department at The Yorkshire Post.
The success of her career took her to the Isle of Man until ill health brought tragedy to her family.Firstly, her mum died in 2014. Then, last December, her dad finally succumbed after battling cancer.
Michaela said: “It was a very, very emotional time. My dad had been talking to winding the business down and doing bits and pieces from home for his favourite customers but he was just too ill.“He decided to shut the business but was still running the show from his hospital bed, telling us what to do.“Every time a hospital trolley went past he’d say to me “love, I did that one.” “He knew all the staff and was always gossiping with them.”
Closing down her father’s highly-regarded business at the same time as he was dying was one of the worst periods of her life.Almost everything had to go, including the actual premises on Kings Road.
Michaela said: “It was such a hard task. “We started burning everything, including my dad’s pattern books, and gave away the fabrics.“I had to empty the building and take all the furniture to the tip. It was absolutely awful.”And that seemed to be that, the end of the line for this most old-fashioned of firms.
Life looked like it was going to return to normal for Michaela at the family home at Wormald Green.But Reeves & Co would not die.
Michaela said: “I kept finding notes in the house in my dad’s handwriting. I kept a mobile phone by my bed in case any of dad’s customers didn’t know he’d died.“The phone kept on ringing time after time. Although I’d worked in the shop every Saturday when I was younger, I hadn’t realised how many customer and friends he had.“Then I had a lightbulb moment. He’d set up a great business for 40 years why did it have to end?”
Reeves & Co is now back in business, albeit at a new address at Dragon Court Park off Skipton Road.Based in a beautiful courtyard, many of the old team with their age-old skills have been enticed back and orders are already flooding in.
Michaela said: “When I’d fly home from the Isle of Man to visit dad in hospital when his health deteriorated I had no idea I’d be doing this.“We’ve got a lot of the original team on board. We are determined to keep alive those old standards of quality.
“We’re happy to do everything from an old lady coming in with a foot stool who wants it recovered to valuable, antique sofas in a big house.”“We’re not into the ‘throw away nation’. What we do is made to last.”
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