Helen, lampshade designer and founder of Moorish Idol found lampshade-making through fabric printing which she began two years’ ago. Having printed the fabric she then needed something to do with it.
Before starting Moorish Idol, I had a variety of self-employed jobs – jewellery making, transcribing, decorating – and of course I am mum to two boys who keep me very busy! I’ve also been lucky enough to undertake two overland expeditions through North Africa and the Middle East, but that is a whole other story!
It was important to me to be able to work from home and fit Moorish Idol in around family life. My set up costs were low – I had space at home to work and already had a sewing machine. I started printing small batches of linen and making cushions, lampshades, cushions, throws, tablecloths and bags to sell online and at local craft fairs. Moorish Idol has grown steadily and I now have an online shop.
I have also started using embroidery in my work, which is proving to be very popular. I have new designs in the pipeline which I have been working on over the winter. I would say that the embroidery is my favourite part of the creative process – I taught myself when I was a child and I have always loved creating pictures with thread. What challenges me the most is knowing when to stop – it can be very easy to work on into the night just to get that last thing made….!
My three tips for craft entrepreneurs would be:
1. Just do it!
2. Don’t fear failure
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice
I have been helped along the way by talking to other creative business owners and hearing about their successes and struggles – it reminds me that we are all working long hours and juggling so many things! I was recommended Needcraft for lampshade kits and supplies by a friend who runs lampshade making workshops. Needcraft staff have always been incredibly helpful, the products are shipped promptly and are of a high standard and competitively priced.
My three warnings would be:
1. Remember to stop – there is always tomorrow!
2. Don’t risk everything
3. Don’t worry if you don’t have success first time round.
I mainly print on linen, but occasionally will use cotton. I print using patterned rollers and Annie Sloan paint, but am currently looking at mixing my own paint. I love being creative and am passionate about what I do – it is amazing to be able to make a living doing something that brings me such huge enjoyment and satisfaction, and to be able to do so from home which enables me to spend time with my children. I hope that I inspire them to run their own businesses in the future!
Find Moorish Idol here: