Spotlight on Wild Lampshade Design
Everyone loves a beautiful lampshade and today I'm featuring Carole Taylor of Wild Lamp Shade Design. What began as a love of up cycling has turned into a business selling simply stunning lampshades. This is a classic story like so many businesses starting out, where unless you have loads of start up cash, inevitably you will be juggling a day job with your business until the business earns enough for you to move on. If you add children to the mix, it becomes the ultimate juggling act.
Go read Carole's journey below and you can shop her site through the button here.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
I have always had small businesses, i.e. made curtains, designed children's dresses and coats, in the 80/90s I lost count how many waistcoats I made, I could cut out and make a tailored waistcoat in one hour! I would work part time look, after 4 children and in the evening, make things for the business. It was in 2005, I started a full-time business upcycling / recycling furniture, upholstery and anything that looked a bit unloved.
In 2003, I would work nights at the weekend and sit in an auction house on a Monday and my mind would wander ( not the most exciting places sometimes ), I would buy the things that nobody wanted and standard bases with shades was one of the things that went for £1 and I thought how hard would it be to cover lampshades but let's make it a little different, it did take a while to actually master, there was no information or books on lampshade making then, so I taught myself, that's how it all began, a lightbulb moment !!
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
I started up from my dining room table and then progressed with my recycling and lampshades to a small barn workshop, which was very cold but I scrubbed and painted the 10ft high walls; I still hold fond memories there. And then I decided that the workshop wasn't big enough and looked into to renting a shop just around the corner, I do remember asking myself, what have you done!!!!
3. How did you fund your business?
Funding the business was always a problem, I would work day and night painting furniture, going to local shows, eBay, boot sales just to raise funds,
I also had to dip into my savings but somehow you always find the money if you want to succeed. Opening the shop was pretty daunting but something I've never regretted and it taught me a lot and I had the nicest customers / friends.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
The difficult part, for me, was obviously funds. There's lots of advice out there but finding it is another thing; there were start-ups for the under 25s, councils weren't forthcoming with information and everything seemed pretty confusing and with money tight paying for a business course wasn't really an option. So, I think I muddled through somehow. I did use social media but it was only just taking off when I started.
Up cycling / recycling was new at that time, finding customers was quite hard but customers did come to the shop and the lampshades were the star of the show, in the beginning I used to recycle the frames but running a shop, making, buying and sourcing products was hard, I would work 14 -16 hours per day and 7 days a week.
5. What help was missing for you?
I think for help I should have asked people more questions and applied for every business grant or funds available, to take on a partner, maybe but I thought I could do it all on my own to save money but it doesn't work that way.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
My first year in the shop I can't remember anything too drastic, apart from lack of customers but more marketing next time would solve that
7. What have you learnt?
I have learnt to enjoy what you are doing and cash flow will follow. Cash flow is always going to be a priority but don't let it take over, work hard and always be nice to people and listen to what they want. Always, stay one step ahead of the crowd, my head is always brewing with new things. Good marketing and advertising and good photos also help.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
Find out as much as you can before you start a business, unlike myself who dived in and fumbled through and listen to your customers and to enjoy it. Working from home saves money, stay at home for as long as possible, although it can be distracting and a bit lonely sometimes. I now walk to a local coffee house to mingle and that helps, clears the mind.
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy the freedom to do my own designs and use my creativity, meeting like-minded creative people is always a bonus, I love collaborations, I'm not sure if I'm good at it but it's great working with people.
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
I'd be lying if I put 1 it's always going to be 10 nothing in life is easy, you have to work hard for it.
Nicola Says "Carole gives some great advice to someone thinking of starting a business, if you can start from home and build up slowly, it takes the risk out of starting your own venture, then say opening a shop, but it can be lonely! Listen to your customers and spend time and effort on marketing, it doesn't have to be expensive, creating a social media presence can be a great start"
Thanks for sharing Carole.
The Girl with the Green Sofa