Dannells competition entrant Lisa Wilmhurst of Mobilampshades tells us her business tips and warnings!
We first ‘met’ Lisa of Mobilampshades a year ago when she entered our competition to win £250 worth of lampshade making supplies. Lisa’s cheerful mobile lampshades really caught our eye here at Dannells, what an ingenious way to combine two elements! A lampshade and a mobile… heaven!
Tell us about Mobilampshades!
I love everything about Mobilampshades. It is a completely unique business, which enables me to be creative, a world apart from my previous accountancy career. I get to do what I love, perusing and purchasing gorgeous fabrics, as well as designing, sewing and rolling lampshades. I don’t mind the admin side of things such as the financial record keeping as that was what I was trained in and it makes it more enjoyable when it’s your own venture. I sell on Etsy so when a sale comes through and I hear a ker-ching on my phone, I just love it!
I use all sorts of fabric, gorgeous prints, plain cottons to design my mobile elements as well as felt. I am looking at using glitter fabric soon which I can’t wait to see the end result! I always use Dannells PVC as I know it is safe. I was fortunate to be introduced to Dannells (Needcraft) when I was at a lampshade making course, I couldn’t recommend them more.
I started making lampshades in 2013, when I was pregnant with my second son. I am a qualified accountant, so prior to making lampshades I was managing finance departments across different countries. I decided to take a career break after my maternity leave ended, I wanted to be a full-time mummy and focus on looking after my boys. It was from trying to decorate my son’s nursery that I decided to make lampshades. I was looking for something unique, a different, bold lampshade but something with a twist but couldn’t find what I wanted. I was looking for a lampshade with mobile elements, something which would be suitable for a child’s room. As I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I decided to make my own. The only difficulty was that I didn’t know how to make a lampshade. Luckily there was a lampshade making course nearby, so I enrolled and met a lovely lady called Ruth McAllister from Quincy Lampshades, who taught me the art of rolling drum lampshades and from there I adapted my lampshades to include my mobile designs.
Where do you make your lampshades?
From the comfort of my own home, or more precisely dining room which is also known by my husband as my craft space. Mobilampshades is all self-funded, so it makes it even more important for me to ensure that it works out financially. I try to make my lampshades when my boys are asleep, so I do have limited time assuming the boys go to bed on time. Eventually when both my boys start school it will enable me to find more time to create and design more lampshades.
There is a lovely hand crafters community on Facebook, who have lots of valuable advice and gives support when you need it. I’m also a member of ‘A Handcrafted business academy’, which is run by Nicola Smith who has a wealth of knowledge and experience. I could always do with more help with social media, there is so many applications out there and it feels like a minefield at times. I’m a bit shy and not very good at selling myself, so the more publicity I can receive the better.
I love what I do, I love the creativity of it all, love it when the mobile elements come together and when I see the finished lampshade.
Where do you buy your kit?
For me, there is only one supplier for my lampshade making supplies and it has to be Dannells. They are just wonderful, not just on the orders but also for my endless queries to the lampshade ring fittings for different countries. The staff have always been very helpful and prompt in replying to my queries. I couldn’t recommend them enough.
Any tips for newbies?
- For all the budding crafty entrepreneurs, my top three tips would be to:
- ensure you are legit. Register with HMRC, so that they are aware of your new business, regardless whether you have made a sale or not.
- Make sure you have all the right and relevant insurance cover.
- Make sure your product is safe and fit for purpose, this would include using reputable suppliers and ensuring their supplies are safe.
- Gosh, what to warn you about:
- Don’t compare yourself to your competitors, it will only make you feel bad and doubt yourself. Your competitors may have been running their business for a while so don’t look at the number of their Facebook fans and wonder why it is taking you so long to get off the ground. Just focus on your business and make sure you have a good, quality, unique product.
- Don’t undersell yourself, make sure your pricing is right, you need to ensure you are paying yourself a decent hourly rate. Ultimately you need to make a profit at the end of it so that you can re-invest back into your business.
- Deal with reputable suppliers, you get what you pay for!
Which is your favourite lampshade?
My favourite lampshades are the elephants as this was the first one I made, which is still currently hanging in my sons’ jungle themed room. So far I am lucky enough to have received positive reviews which always makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. The beauty of being self-employed is that I can fit around the family. My biggest challenge is finding enough time, but I know that this won’t be forever as my children are still young.
Lisa’s favourite crafting sites:
Find Mobilampshades here:
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