Penny Bruce studied a Curtain and Soft furnishing Diploma course with The National Design Academy, and is now the Director of her own and very successful soft furnishings business, Denton Drapes. All furnishings are made from high quality fabrics and hand-sewn by a team of skilled workers, who use traditional craft skills based in a Bedfordshire workroom.
thedesignhub caught up with Penny to find out how she achieved her great success. In her interview, she reveals what inspired her love for interior design, how she balanced study and a busy working life and top tips for others who want to follow suit. This is definitely one to have with a cuppa and a Digestive… get engrossed!
What inspired your love for interior design?
I’m passionate about soft furnishings. I’ve always been interested in fabrics and when I gave up my career in fashion I turned to curtain making and discovered this amazing industry
What made you decide to study at The National Design Academy?
The NDA soft furnishing course was the only one I could find specifically aimed at professional curtain makers
What hurdles did you face when studying and how did you cope?
The course was intense covering lots of subjects in the day and requiring extra work in the evenings. The sewing was second nature to me but I found the two weeks physically exhausting but inspirational
How did you feel when you finally completed the course?
I was over the moon. I felt like I could tackle anything and couldn’t wait to get started on building my business
How did you make the transition from study to setting up your own business, and what advice would you give others who may want to do the same?
I had already set up the business but the NDA course gave me the springboard to really establish it as a going concern. Curtain makers who are starting out should take every opportunity they can to study their craft and learn from others especially about business matters.
What were your main study rituals you used to keep focused and on track?
I was and am totally committed to learning everything I can about soft furnishings. Because I love the subject so much, concentration and the avoidance of distraction was easy
When you hear the words “Interior Design” what comes to mind?
It’s the ability to transform a room by the creative use of soft furnishings and colour. When you get it right it is almost magical.
Would you recommend distance learning to others?
I didn’t do distance learning but went to Nottingham for the course. For soft furnishings I think it is important to be completely hands-on and engaged.
You’re the Director of a very successful business, what are the top three key points to keeping a new business afloat?
You must thoroughly understand the market sector you are targeting; You must follow-up every lead with tenacity; and you must pay really close attention to your pricing , capturing all of your costs and making sure that you are earning an acceptable margin.
I really love my job and I just want to keep learning and growing the business. Interest in beautiful soft furnishings is really high in both UK and the USA and I want Denton Drapes’ reputation for high quality products and services to keep growing while I continue to enjoy every working day.