Kate Moree, 48, and Cat Pearson, 36, started the social enterprise business Seagulls Reuse to promote social justice and sell unwanted paint cheaply.
In an instant you see bursts of vibrant colour splattered on the floor, ingraining a unique pattern on each work surface. There’s a smell of rusty paint mixed with fresh air that engulfs the shop, making you think you’re inside of a painters brush instead of a shop. Hidden away from view on kirkstall Road, Leeds, lies the pink covered paint shop called Seagulls Reuse.
The owners Cat Moree, 48, and Kate Pearson, 36, met 15 years ago while doing volunteer work. They started Seagulls Reuse 12 years ago in Kate’s kitchen, with the aim of wanting to create jobs for themselves whilst having a passion for social justice, the local and global impact they have on the world. “So we set up a social business that could bring about reuse and recycling.” Says Kate. They kept in mind the three P’s for their business which stand for the planet, people and profit.
Seagulls Reuse provide services from small house projects, mosaic classes and city projects. But their main purpose is to collect left over paint from the public to be resold cheaply. Alongside them they have a work force of 12 and a volunteer program of 50 per year. Every single one comes from a different background which include ex-offenders, mental health patients, people with learning disabilities, the unemployed and young people.
This is vital as “it’s very important to help people, I can’t place a number on how essential it is,” Kate stresses. The human aspect to their business is the most valuable part. Whatever anyone’s reason, they want to see people get back into the working world. They have constant communication with prisons, enquiring about x offenders who need help and contact with outreach programmes in Leeds. They do this because “it’s an important part in what we do, especially for x offenders as they find it hard to get work, people just want to change their life.” Cat explained.
Both also encourage young people to do more in their free time. They recently had two young people do placement at the shop. Before both of them would just sit in their bedrooms all day, but now they have transferable work skills. Cat and Kate’s vision is to involve as many people as possible for installing a positive stamp in Leeds. “It’s very satisfying knowing the work you put in isn’t for someone else, it’s for you, the volunteers, and the customers,” states Kate.
But like anyone starting up, “you have to have a passion for what you are doing, this keeps you motivated,” said Cat. If they didn’t have passion about social justice and the environment, then they would had given up. So don’t be afraid to ask for help if you want to start up a business, find someone who has the knowledge, nothing should hold you back. If you encounter problems, learn how to deal with them better. They had many problems in the past and will have more in the future, but they have faith it will be alright.