Posted on: 02/01/2012

My world grew this year. It billowed outwards and encompassed a world of new friends and touched lightly on the shoulders of business. With this alone, I am happy. I have been delighted by reciprocated kindnesses and taken aback by other’s selfless generosity. For me, this year has been about people.

I have made and sold over 200 lampshades. Selling via 5 online shops, one bricks and mortar, two pop-ups, a load of markets and fairs, and from my own home. I  have supplied wholesale and forged a partnership with an interiors supplier. More on-line shops are lined up for early next year, but they’ll be fewer markets and shows – I have to be pickier. Discovering that my grandfather was a lampshade-maker in the 50s was a joyful surprise. Over 20 people have learnt new lampshade-making skills from me. I have embraced and enjoyed social media, networking, and selling. Lampshades have been ripped apart, sold for peanuts, got squashed in boxes. Pricing and quoting has been difficult (the amount of quotes I’ve given for bespoke lampshades without a reply in response is really quite surprising, and dispiriting). I have got through 12 rotary cutters, 2 steam irons, 2 metal rules, one pair of scissors, 100m of fabric, 50m of PVC, hundreds of ringsets, roll upon roll of tape, corner punched hundreds of compliment slips, price-tagged, listed, and spent many hours ironing! Oh, the ironing.  I have grappled with a gazebo, carted around huge boxes, have frozen and fried to a crisp at various markets. I am in profit, and by a decent margin.

What does 2012 have in store? A new range of lampshades. An e-commerce enabled website. A rebrand. Perhaps my own shop on the Gloucester Road, Bristol, for one week only. What would you do, if you were owner at Quincy Lampshades?


4 Responses to "2011"

Congratulations on completing your first year of trading and your first blog. 2012 sounds exciting.

Time is valuable to a sole trader. I would followup the lost quotes to find out why. (Outsource to a virtual PA if you are busy; I’m happy to recommend mine) It may be that people just need a guideline figure on your website to see whether it is worth pursuing further which will reduce your time quoting in future and increase your “conversion” rate to sales.

I would also look at the profit margins (including the value of your time) on your various sales routes to see whether you can rationalise them. Presumably this is why you decided not to do so many markets. There is software available that can help you to list/sell the same item through several different websites.

Word of mouth referrals are usually the best so encourage your satisfied customers to spread the word. If they say something nice about you ask them to put it in writing for your website and/or promotional literature.

Wishing you a happy and prosperous new year and don’t forget to enjoy your business.


Thank you so much for taking the time to give this advice – much appreciated. There are so many things I need to do! All the best for the coming year. Ruth

Wow what a year! Congratulations on all you have achieved… just recently discovered your gorgeous shades via Lionheart. Yes 2012 – onwards and upwards. Best of luck. Lou x

Dear Lou. Thank you so much! (And isn’t Lionheart a gem?) Good luck with your own business too, chin chin. All the best. Ruth

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