How I Built My…

written by Blog Team February 24, 2016
How I Built My…

We grab a brew with multiple award winning decorator, Wayne de Wet, to talk tools, Twitter and building a successful business.

Wayne is a sole trader and master decorator with 38 years of experience.

Hello, Wayne! First off, how did you get started as a decorator?

I started out aged 16 as a snagging painter and basically just worked my way up to where I am today – running my own painting and decorating business. That’s the short version, anyway!

Tell us about a typical day in Wayne’s world?

Every day can bring a new customer, a new home or site. I love the variety of my work, as I also do a lot of product testing and tool reviews. I’ve had my own review pages in a trade magazine for the last five years, plus I work as consultant.

How do you get new customers?

Belonging to a trade body is really important, it sets you apart from others and also makes it easier for potential clients to find you. I’m a member of the Painting and Decorating Association, Dulux Select Decorators and – I find the latter brings me with most work because your customers become your ambassadors. I have 251 verified reviews on there, which can be really reassuring to any potential customers.

If you had to choose, what’d be your favourite bit of kit?

That’s like asking a father to pick his favourite child, I’m absolutely tool mad! I’m a big advocate of dust free sanding – it makes preparation faster and it’s better for you and your clients. It’s a game changer.

How do you unwind off site?

Any trade can be hard on you, physically and mentally, so it’s really important to get down time whenever you can. Personally I enjoy writing reviews, producing YouTube videos and gardening – I’m really into topiary and find it so calming to trim trees into different shapes. You have to really focus so it takes your mind off everything but that moment.

I also find charity work really rewarding and I’ve done tonnes of fundraising for Cancer Research UK. I feel so proud to give something back and help such a worthwhile cause.

Which piece of work are you most proud of?

I get involved in so many different aspects of my trade that it’s difficult to choose. In the nineties I decorated the owner of Filofax’s multi-million-pound home from top to bottom. It was a fun job because the children (aged 17 to 19) were allowed to choose the theme for their rooms, but they had to consult with me first to find out what would work and what wouldn’t. The finished project featured in lots of trade and home interest magazines and the client was so pleased, I was rewarded with a three week working holiday to their Spanish home, and even went out on his yacht! Can’t complain.

We’re brewing up – what’s yours?

I’ll have a skinny latte; I’m a bit of a coffee nut.

Finally, what’s your top bit of advice for anybody thinking of starting out in a trade?

I’d sum it by saying: learn a trade you think you’ll enjoy, learn it well and you will have a job for life.

An apprenticeship is the best route into a trade and it’s never too late to start. I’ve known bankers who’ve become plumbers and all sorts. It takes dedication, learning from others and not being afraid to make mistakes. I am a firm believer in common sense – the trouble is it ain’t that common.

Find out more about Wayne on Check A Trade and Twitter.

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