The secret of Immàge Upholstery’s success, according to owner Clevon Cunningham, is its ability to produce high-quality work quickly and efficiently, with an intense attention to detail.
But Clevon’s daughter Shanika believes there’s another magic ingredient—her father’s personality.
“A lot of his customers like how he conducts business, how he builds a rapport with them,” she says. “That’s why they will stick with him, that’s why they remain loyal to him. “He has a very warm personality; he’s a very receiving person. Sometimes just simply being nice, that’s all people want to see.”
Clevon, a master upholsterer, was born in London and grew up in Jamaica, where he learned his trade. He came to Bermuda 40 years ago for work and launched Immàge Upholstery in 2014 when the company he was working for, the Living Centre furniture group, went into receivership.
”I have over 40 years’ experience in the trade, I’ve been doing upholstery all my life,” he says “I always wanted to have my own business; I always aspired to serve the community in that sense.”
The company began in Clevon’s living room, with some work carried out in a friend’s garage, but soon moved to premises on Horseshoe Road, Camp Hill, where it remains. “Basically it started from word of mouth,” he says. “It was very challenging at first but …one job led to another. The quality work I produce, it draws people, and it just started to grow.” Almost ten years on, Immàge now has three employees—all from Jamaica, as local upholsterers have been hard to find—with hopes to hire a fourth.
Immage Upholstery offers custom upholstery of all kinds, be it for residential, commercial, auto or marine use. The firm takes on projects of all sizes and prides itself on getting straight on with the work. “We do headboards, sofas and cars, boat seats, bike seats, restaurant seatings, hotel chairs,” says Clevon. “It’s a serious amount of upholstery!
“Most of the work is done at the shop but sometimes we go on site.”
One recent job was also one of the most unusual Immàge has undertaken—reupholstering acoustic panels for Pacific Life Re’s new global HQ at Point House on Front Street. The project was a runner-up in The Bermudian’s Building and Interior Design awards 2022. “We had to go there and do a lot of the job on site, measurements and everything like that, to get it right,” says Clevon. “They got a carpenter to make the frames and we had to upholster the frames and fit it back in neatly.
“That was a big job, the first time I am doing a job like that. It was challenging but the end result was very, very pleasing.”
Another recent success was for the Intrepid Steak, Seafood & Raw Bar at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. “They had these big sofas, tufted back sofas, and they were renovating the restaurant,” says Clevon. “They wanted to fit them in a space but they were too large, so they came to me…I’d never done anything like that but it was an awesome job.
“They got their carpenter to cut it down and then we had to figure out how to fit it all back together, to fit the space they gave us, and it finished perfectly.”
The project tallied with a trend he has seen of clients wanting to recycle and repurpose furniture, both for environmental reasons and because global supply chain issues have meant long wait times for new pieces. Clevon finds much fulfilment in the trickier jobs that customers request. “I love to do challenging jobs, for example, tufting furniture and matching up furniture, matching fabric, lining up stripes.”
Many of Immàge’s clients come through interior designers and they source their own material, but they can choose fabric imported by Clevon. The most important thing for him is that the customer is happy. “I will do the job back over completely without any charge just to satisfy the customer,” he says. “I am not pleased if the customer is not satisfied.”