Students Join Forces in Furniture Rehab Business

They met as students in a Harper College sculpture class and fueled their friendship as student aides in the College's 3D art studio. They've now become business partners, in a venture aimed at giving second-hand castoffs a second life. The trio, scholarship recipients focused on sculpture or welding, work together to creatively up-cycle old furniture, turning things like defunct record player cabinets and broken-down work benches into functioning 21st century appliances and family room-ready works of art.

"We started this to expand our possibilities as artists. Creativity is in our blood," says sculpture student Paul Fritz of Arlington Heights, who stresses the group's earth-conscious attitude and notes the profits go toward more art supplies. "This is funding our creativity, and that's really our goal: to keep learning new skills, applying old skills and all around enhancing ourselves as artists and individuals."

The business, dubbed Leftie's in a nod to the leftovers the team transforms, does custom work by request, and is displaying work at Harper's Studio V - an on-campus student-run boutique featuring art, jewelry and fashion from students, faculty and community members - and selling finished pieces online. "Being able to share our abilities and our talents and combine everything we've learned to come together as one - that's really what I'm going for," says welding student Nick Kohler of Elk Grove Village. "We're able to make a lot out of very little."

Fritz, Kohler and their colleague Victoria Claus of Arlington Heights, a recent graduate, are quick to credit Harper for bringing them together. "We are so thankful for our experience there," says Claus, a single mom who worked through the College's Women's Program to finish her sculpture degree. "We credit Harper with almost all our success, individually and together, because of the professors and studio faculty who mentored us."

Press contact: Erin Brooks, 847.925.6159, kpohl@harpercollege.edu