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The story of a lampshade designer


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.

Enter lampshades!

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!

lampshade designer

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

lampshade designer

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.

lampshade designer

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.

lampshade designer

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:

lampshade designer

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