| 15.9°C Dublin

eye catching Covid pandemic gives boost to couple's colourful plant box business

The pair have opened the Happy Pallet Company in a Belfast lock-up and sold products all over the UK with requests for orders from Australia and New Zealand.

Close

Actor Emily Lamey and her DJ partner Ryan Doran

Actor Emily Lamey and her DJ partner Ryan Doran

Actor Emily Lamey and her DJ partner Ryan Doran

The pandemic, pallets and planters have opened up the world to a Belfast couple.

Yoga teacher Emily Lamey and events manager Ryan Doran were both left out of work last year when Covid hit.

To cheer up their garden, Ryan crafted a garden planter in the shape of the iconic Harland & Wolff cranes which dominate Belfast's skyline.

A year later they've hit 1,000 sales of the eye-catching yellow plant boxes and established a thriving business.

Ryan (29) has taught himself how to create striking resin designs from YouTube videos and 27-year-old Emily has completed a building safety course and devoured books on woodcraft.

The pair have opened the Happy Pallet Company in a Belfast lock-up and sold products all over the UK with requests for orders from Australia and New Zealand.

Close

When actor Emily Lamey and her DJ partner Ryan Doran decided to tidy up their garden during lockdown last year, they never thought that 12 months later they'd be making furniture and running a business

When actor Emily Lamey and her DJ partner Ryan Doran decided to tidy up their garden during lockdown last year, they never thought that 12 months later they'd be making furniture and running a business

When actor Emily Lamey and her DJ partner Ryan Doran decided to tidy up their garden during lockdown last year, they never thought that 12 months later they'd be making furniture and running a business

"We're in far too deep to let this go," says Emily.

"We're going to get into more shops and go full time."

She was working as a stage manager and yoga instructor last year when the pandemic hit, and her income suddenly dried up. After less than a year in self-employment she wasn't entitled to any government aid.

Close

Actor Emily Lamey and her DJ partner Ryan Doran

Actor Emily Lamey and her DJ partner Ryan Doran

Actor Emily Lamey and her DJ partner Ryan Doran

The Belfast woman is also an actor who's starred in Ups and Downs, Is This Coercive Control, movie South with Red Rock's Darragh O'Toole and U2's video for Every Breaking Wave.

Ryan, a graphic designer, and events manager for Thompsons Garage in Belfast hoped the nightclub would be open again after a few weeks, and the pair kept busy tidying their garden.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

"We had to come up with some sort of plan," says Emily.

"When we were doing the garden, Ryan made a Harland & Wolff planter and put a picture of it on social media and it blew up from there.

"We've sold over 1,000 of them now and we're just trying to find the time to make them."

The designer says his only carpentry experience was building skateboards as a kid, but his creation became a business plan when pals in the hospitality industry started donating waste pallets.

"My friend opened a fruit delivery company, so we borrowed his van on a Sunday and went round the bars which were doing cocktail deliveries and took away their pallets," says Ryan.

"Then we'd get people ringing saying they'd seen pallets dumped in entries.

"At first we were making them at home and spraying them in the spare bedroom, but then we outgrew the house when we couldn't fit all the orders in there any more.

"We can't keep up with the orders. We make them in batches of 20 to 40, and we've sold 70 in a day.

Close

Actor Emily Lamey and her DJ partner Ryan Doran

Actor Emily Lamey and her DJ partner Ryan Doran

Actor Emily Lamey and her DJ partner Ryan Doran

"We've sold them all over the UK to people from here. There are loads in London and people send us their pictures of them. We've had requests for orders from Australia and New Zealand, but the shipping costs are as much as the planters."

Emily's experience building and breaking down sets in theatres was the starting point for her move into power tools and wood creations.

The pair now buy large pieces of untouched timber from tree surgery companies to make bespoke creations from dining tables to chopping boards and customers usually trust their vision.

"We only use wood that's being cut down anyway," she says.

"I love learning new things, so I've read loads of books to learn about trees and Ryan is the king of YouTube, and we've also learned from trial and error.

"We agree to everything people ask us to make and then learn how to make it."

When restaurants reopened last week, they were flat-out delivering chopping boards and cheese boards to commercial clients.

Emily is currently working on a coffee table made from spalted Irish beech - the tree was diseased which creates a marbled effect in the wood. It's being shipped out to America by the new owner.

They've also been asked to help fit out a record shop in a new development in Belfast and say the work just keeps coming in.

To stay ahead of her new job, Emily took part in a She Built It course aimed at women who want to get into the building industry and they're also part of International Synergy, run through Invest NI. It recycles waste so they get donated pallets and their sawdust is passed on to other companies.

The pair say a special mention is due to the BBC's Stephen Watson who has been presenting sports news from home with his garden backdrop, which has a prominent Harland & Wolff planter.

"That's not one of ours," says Emily.

"We don't know where he got his, but it's got us so many sales!"

And despite returning to yoga and events management, they see their future in wood.

"Because so much of this has happened by accident we get to the end of every week and ask, 'how did that happen?'" says Ryan.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Top Videos





Privacy