How long have you been making lampshades?
I made my very first lampshade last summer, after I discovered that Needcraft had put together some very clever kits, with everything you need to make the perfect lampshade. I was hoping to be able to add these to my craft business store and offer them to my interior design clients, but I wasn’t sure if I had the necessary skill. I still have a pic of my very first shade that I used my all-time favourite piece of Manuel Canavoss Striped fabric on!
yes I have a collection of “favourite fabrics” that can only be used for very special projects
My first lampshade!
What did you do before that?
I started Rascal & Roses as a very small interiors business, specialising in painted furniture, but since 2014 I have grown the interior design and crafting side of the business and now incorporate lampshades, soft furnishings and other home-wares. Before I started Rascal & Roses I was an Army Officer in the British Army…( I’ve had a rather big career change!)
Why did you decide start making lampshades?
I wanted to make a product for clients that was 100% handmade, that looked professional, was unique and really showed off the beautiful fabrics which I stocked and used. I loved the look of rolled drum lampshades and once I had made my first one I was hooked!
How did you setup?
I started Rascal & Roses when my husband was in Afghanistan in 2013 and I was at home on maternity leave with my 6 month old daughter. At the time we had moved from London to beautiful Rutland and this really inspired the contemporary country-style of the business. with my husband in the Army we move home a lot, Rascal and Roses is purely online as this way, whist we still move around (we’ve had 6 houses in the last 4 years!) I can keep the business going. currently we are in Surrey, but within the next year we’ll probably be moving again to Wiltshire! I started on a very tight budget painting furniture for friends and families and that gave me enough working capital to launch my website and invest in stock for new products. Once these started selling, my cashflow improved and that has allowed me to slowly grow the business.
What has helped you along the way?
For me, the internet and access to it (smart phones, tablets, laptops) have allowed me to set up my dream business on my own from home (well with the help of my very clever brother who is a web designer)!
My business is solely online and I found that social media has really helped at all stages from set up to its continued growth
I have met so many amazing people within the interiors trade, as well as all my lovely customers. A picture paints a thousand words, so being able to show customers what I get up, what inspires me and how we make things is really key and I have found my blogging has really enhanced my ability to share with people and help grow my brand and business.
I’ve also been very lucky to be able to glean lots of advice from people far more experienced that me, from fabric designers to furniture makers, there is so much knowledge out there.
Has it been different to how you imagined?
Working for yourself on your own business gives you so much freedom compared to a 9-5 job, but I didn’t realise quite how much it would take over my life! It’s all consuming, from the moment I wake up until I go to bed. I used to think I could never switch off from my day job, but now I know that is definitely true! I’ve been much busier than I thought I would be doing all the “business” side of my business and not quite as busy doing all the fun things, like designing and making, but I’m hoping that in the longer term that will change. For a small business I have to be the MD, designer, maker, accountant, warehouse manager, PR manager, advertising manager, IT expert and social media consultant! I think I had probably underestimated how you have to be a jack of all trades when you first start a business.
What challenges you the most?
It’s challenging starting a small craft business and juggling a young family and a dog, but it just means I have to be organised and manage my time effectively. I don’t make things easy by offering a fully bespoke service, which means that everything I sell is made to order. The knock-on effect of this is that certain times of the year I get very, very busy – like a Christmas – which was particularly challenging this year as my son was only born in the beginning of November,
I was actually making lampshades the day I went into labour and 3 days after he was born …I did take the weekend off though! Yep, I would definitely say time and task management is what I find the most challenging.
What is your favourite thing to make and why?
I love making lampshades because they always look so fantastic once they are finished and I get to use such beautiful fabrics. For me, the bigger the better. I’ve had a run of giant 60cm shades to make for clients and they have been amazing – one was larger than my 2 year old! I’m developing two new contemporary country range of statement shades – designed to really be the focus of any room, I’m hopeful the ranges will be finalised in the next month.
What is your experience of Needcraft products?
They arrive very quickly, everything you need is in one place and everything does exactly the job it should – this is so reassuring when you are relying on a single supplier. I have yet to have a problem or any issues with any Needcraft products. On the many occasions that I have had questions the Needcraft staff have always been brilliant. Ringing me straight away to offer advice and point me in the right direction –
Jamie is a very patient man and always goes out of his way to be helpful. Glen has also had to deal with my panicky emails when I think I’ve put the wrong delivery address or lost an order (or both) and he’s always really quick to reply and reassure me that everything is fine.
Any tips for new crafters?
Make a studio/workshop – no matter how small, you will definitely need a space that is just for crafting – I started off in the downstairs cloakroom!
Keep track of your finances – even if it’s just in a notepad, you’ll be amazed how quickly you lose track and really if you lose track of the finances you don’t actually have a business.
Keep remembering why – its easy to forget sometimes why you started a business, but if you can keep in mind the reasons why I think it helps you through the tough times.
It’s harder work than you might think working for yourself – people make it look easy, but in the end its hard graft (and craft!), there were moments (like at 2 o clock in the morning when I have been making lampshades that I wonder if this is really what I want?!) You need to cost in your time and skills, not just your material costs – something crafters in particular are bad at doing.
Keep reviewing where you are – its easy to start your craft business and then just get swept up with the day-to-day running and not look at where you are going, try to take a bit of time to work out if you are where you want to be.
Find Rascal and Roses online:
Website: www.rascalandroses.co.uk – Blog on website
Instagram: www.instagram.com/verity129 (Rascal & Roses)