Used Kitchen Exchange (UKE) recently won gold in this year’s Best Start-Up category at the Global Good Awards. We chat to founder Helen Lord
How often do you see those ads on the telly for a new kitchen, feel tempted, then baulk at the price? Or maybe you think about splashing out, then wonder what the heck you are going to do with all your old units and start to worry about landfill and carbon footprints… Used Kitchen Exchange (UKE), winner of gold in this year’s Best Start-Up category at the Global Good Awards has the answer. It’s a marketplace offering quality kitchens at affordable prices from a sustainable source (ie pre-owned and ex-display units), or as they like to put it: ‘kitchens that don’t cost the earth’.
Like many a great business idea, UKE was set up from a kitchen table. “Following a long search for a cost effective and ethical kitchen for our home we found one on ebay,” Helen says. “We quickly realised that not only was buying pre-owned a great way of saving money, it also prevented unnecessary landfill waste.”
From there she started visiting kitchen showrooms to offer a re-sale service for their customers and was quickly inundated.
“Used Kitchen Exchange gives an ethical and profitable solution that is a win win for everyone,” she explains. “I am motivated by the sheer simplicity and obviousness of our business idea. After all, you wouldn’t scrap a used car would you? It’s what we would call a ‘no brainer’, benefiting people financially, bringing low cost kitchens to market with outstanding environmental benefits! It’s great to know what you love to do makes a real difference.”
Helen discovered the Global Good Awards on Google. “We immediately plugged into its ethos of ‘for people, planet, profit with purpose’ as it is everything we stand for as a business. And we also wanted to be involved with a programme that celebrated ‘doing good’ in business.”
At the awards ceremony, Helen admits she was nervous. “Of course we wanted to win, but I don’t think anyone goes to an event like that thinking they have it in the bag,” she smiles. “We were over the moon when our name was read out. What a high! It’s great to know we have done good, great to know we are pushing in the right direction and will just make us work even harder!”
She recommends other small businesses to consider entering in 2020. “Being a winner is a great validation of your business, however these awards give so much more. They are not just about good business, they are about people – real change makers. To be recognised as a business that is making positive changes in the world is just awesome, nothing could feel better than that!
“For the past three years we have looked to continually improve our service – selling any pre-owned item is problematic, selling a kitchen for re-use is even more challenging! It’s about meeting everyone’s expectations and changing mindsets. This award gives us a badge of honour and an acknowledgement of success that we will be wearing with pride for many years to come!”
Helen is pictured above with celebrity brand ambassador Linda Barker.