Proud small business owner, Jackie Moulla of Brits Love Vintage has found the sweet spot of lampshade making, supplying her customers with an enticing and eclectic range of lampshades, reflecting her love of fabrics from modern designer fabrics to retro and vintage-inspired prints.
Nestled in the heart of Whitstable, Brits Love Vintage is full of upcycled furniture, paint and desirable homewares and in today’s Meet the Maker, Jackie explains how she took her fledgling business from a market stall to a successful bricks and mortar and online shop.
How are you today and what’s on your workbench?
Hi, I’m ok thank you, feeling better after recently having Covid for the first time. I’m finishing off orders for Candle Clip Lampshades and making up some Lantern Making Kits for the shop.
How would you describe your style?
Eclectic, I’m drawn to bright bold patterns, both modern and retro/ vintage. I love velvets and textured fabrics.
Where do you start when choosing the unique fabric for your lampshades?
When doing commissions, I work with my clients to choose, the style and fabric that suits their lamp or home. I’m usually pretty good at presenting a couple of options and it usually doesn’t take too long to find the right fabric. For the shop, it’s usually velvet and bright.
Over the last couple of years, I have built up my fabric suppliers and the shop is full of fabric and fabric books, so I’m very lucky to have a huge selection to choose from. Although, every time I think I have enough fabric, I find another designer or fabric I love and must have.
Can you tell us more about your business, Brits Love Vintage?
I live and have a shop in Whitstable, East Kent where I make lampshades and upcycle furniture. I’m a stockist for Frenchic Paint and some fabulous fabrics and wallpapers.
I started in Greenwich Market in 2018, which was fun in the winter of The Beast from the East. Then I had a pop-up in Whitstable Harbour Market whilst still living in London, but I loved driving down to the sea every day. We finally moved to Whitstable at the end of 2018 and I moved into a permanent hut in the market.
At the beginning of 2019, I was picked as one of Theo Paphitis Small Business Sunday winners which was a great way to start the year. In the same year, I shared a tiny shop in the High Street and in January 2021 I got the keys to my own shop in Oxford Street and moved in in the middle of the lockdown, so it’s been a real rollercoaster.
My lampshades have also appeared in George Clarkes Old House New Home, and this year, Frenchic used some of my lampshades for the launch of the second wall paint collection. I run lampshade making and furniture upcycling workshops that are always so much fun and always lovely to see people taking home a lampshade that they made.
What do you love about owning a small business?
I love the freedom to choose when I work and what I do. Sometimes it’s pretty full on as it's just me. I’m open 5 days a week, but I don’t open until 11 am as I’m not good at early starts. Last year Ali from The Cabinet of Million Dollar Ali joined me as an apprentice for one day a week, she is brilliant at cushions and upholstery.
When and why did you start making lampshades?
I started when we were renovating our home in 2017, I couldn’t find any lampshades I liked. So, I started with a couple of Dannell’s Lampshade Making Kits and I was hooked!
What’s your favourite part of the lampshade making process?
Choosing the fabric and fabric placement is my favourite part, as is making something original. A lampshade can really transform a space or room.
And your favourite type of shade, that you’d keep if you could?
A lush Christian Lacroix velvet 40cm drum with a gorgeous pom poms trim.
What’s your most popular selling shade in your online or bricks and mortar shop?
Being in Whitstable I make lots of nautical-themed lampshades. Sue Carfrae is a local photographer I use her photos of the Local Beach huts and Maunsell Forts printed onto fabric they are very popular.
Online this year, there has been a huge increase in orders for my little Candle Clip lampshades using Liberty Fabrics. I used to cut my own lining for these but with so many orders I now use the Dannells Manufacturers Pack.
What’s the mix of shades you make to sell versus lampshade commissions, as part of your business?
It’s around 50/50, I tend to use duplex frames in the shop now so they can be used as a ceiling or lampshade if customers want to take them away.
Any tips for new lampshade makers in business?
Practice to get the best finish and join the Lampshade makers group. Start small and build your customer base. Have realistic expectations, most businesses don’t take off overnight.
Ensure you include all costs, especially your time in the price.
When are you at your most productive?
In the afternoon, I’m not great in the mornings! Also, I’m really messy so I have to work hard keeping enough clear space to cut and roll the lampshades…….
And your favourite sustenance when you’re working?
Tea, tea and more tea and a great Spotify list.
Could you let us take a peek at your workspace?
Where would you like to be in 10 years time?
Well, I’m beside the seaside in my own shop, so I have pretty much got to where I wanted to be. I feel very lucky to be doing what I love full-time, having retired from full-time paid employment. I could collect my pension before then, so who knows.
What have you learned that’s been invaluable to your creative process?
Don’t rush, measure twice and cut once (LOL). Take time out, if you don’t enjoy what you are doing, don’t do it.
Take a look at Jackies's range of handmade lampshades, repainting, recycling and restyling furniture and Frenchic Furniture Paint® amongst many other homeware goodies. Give her a friendly follow on her socials linked below.
#meetthemaker #britslovevintage #designerlampshades #libertylampshades #candlecliplampshades #retroshades #vintageshades #homewaresbusiness #whitstable #localbusiness #creativebusiness #professionalshademaker #lampshademakers #lampshademaking #sellinglampshades #creativebusinessadvice #smallbusiness #smallbusinessuk #lampshadeinspiration #bespokeshades #uniqueshades #lampshades #lampshademaker #bespokedesign #oneofakindshade #handmadeshades