Q1: Congratulations! You’ve been shortlisted as Apprentice of the Year, and we are immensely proud! How does it make you feel?
Thank you! I feel very grateful to have been nominated and then shortlisted, and it was a lovely surprise.
Q2: Can you introduce yourself and tell us what drove your decision to become an Apprentice at George Smith?
Hello, my name is Claire Anderson and I have been a part of the George Smith team since 2018, starting as an apprentice upholsterer. I was drawn to a career in upholstery as I have always had a keen interest in creating and making, having studied Textiles. I knew that learning upholstery would fulfil my passion for hands-on creativity, as well as my eye for quality. I chose George Smith specifically due to the bespoke nature and sheer quality of the upholstered products.
Q3: Tell us about a typical day in your role as an apprentice at George Smith?
A typical day for an upholstery apprentice at George Smith starts on the upholstery floor, working on their own bench alongside their mentor. Each apprentice works on a piece of furniture, under expert guidance, learning core upholstery techniques. You use a range of hand tools to web, hand stitch springs and fix layers of natural stuffings to a solid wood frame.You then apply an extensive range of fabrics, creating pleats, flutes, and gathers before finishing the pieces with nail heads and finally the George Smith badge! Apprentices also learn in other departments, such as cutting, sewing, polishing and frame assembly.
Q4: What skills have you gained during your time at George Smith?
During my apprenticeship I have gained all the practical skills and techniques of a professional upholsterer, and I am able to craft those into every piece of furniture. My favourite upholstery skill is deep buttoning, creating pleats on any size of piece. I have also gained an in-depth knowledge of fabrics and leathers.
Q5: Could you talk about a project or task that you’re particularly proud of?
I am particularly proud of the work I completed creating prototype pieces for the Dorchester Hotel. The process of creating prototypes and then seeing them go on to be chosen, ordered and created as finished pieces is extremely rewarding.
Q6: What are your future goals, and how has this apprenticeship prepared you for them?
My future goals are here at George Smith. The apprenticeship has given me an exemplary technical base of knowledge; I now know the process inside and out. This has allowed me to move into other factory departments and given me the opportunity to learn even more, undertaking further training and qualifications.
Q7: How do you believe apprenticeships can benefit others who might be considering this path?
Apprenticeships are invaluable! I believe they give individuals the opportunity to embed themselves into the heart of a company, learning skills from colleagues with vast experience and industry knowledge. Apprenticeships also give you the opportunity to earn whilst you learn, as you are being paid to complete training and gain qualifications.
Q8: What advice would you give to future apprentices at George Smith?
Gain as much knowledge from your mentors as you possibly can; they are the industry experts in their field, and they are willing to pass their expertise on to you. Take every opportunity you can to learn new and difficult techniques. Finally, step back and appreciate the beautiful pieces of furniture you have made!