Emma Shaw graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 2001 with a degree in Industrial Management. Even though she had a keen interest in soft furnishings from a young age, she didn’t expect to follow this path because of her chosen educational route. But when Emma bought her first house, she decided to make all her own furnishings and this reignited the interior design bug she’d always had.
Wanting to develop her skills and flex her creative fingertips, Emma enrolled on a soft furnishings Diploma course and has never looked back since. She’s now the proud owner of a soft furnishings business which is thriving and experiencing high demand. She’s recently taken on her first employee and launched a brand new website www.ecclesbourneinteriors.com Emma is an example to many young people wanting to challenge themselves and proof that positive things can come thick and fast if you work hard. Enjoy her interview…
What attracted you to the NDA’s Diploma in Professional Curtain making and Soft Furnishings course?
I was looking for a career change into starting my own soft furnishings business and I was looking for a course to enhance my skills. This course offers a great range of high standard techniques coupled with business start-up ideas.
How did you find the studio course and would you recommend this style of learning to others?
I would highly recommend this style of learning and the professional knowledge of the course tutor (Ann Hoare) was excellent. She was very encouraging and provided excellent solutions to the potential problem that could arise.
Setting aside time to study can be extremely difficult, what methods did you use to keep yourself motivated and on track?
I was so keen to start my own business that this kept me motivated and on track along with the enthusiasm of the tutor.
Can you tell us about your first paid project after completing the Diploma and how you carried it through.
My first project was to do two roman blinds in one window with the pattern match flowing. This took a little time to ensure that the patterns between the two matched. We did this on the course which gave me confidence and I completed the task as per the course instructions. This was a great success as I have subsequently completed the rest of the house.
Sometimes clients have just a vague idea in mind about what they want and may need advice with developing that idea; what are the main points designers should consider when dealing with such clients?
I personally take my course samples with me. I sit down with the client and explain the options they have to choose from depending on the window. I usually give a polite but strong recommendation depending on the material type they have chosen. I find that most clients who are vague really appreciate the use of my knowledge.
You left a full time job to set up your own soft furnishings business, how did you kick-start that business and what advice would you give to others who may be a little apprehensive about doing the same?
I initially started my business whilst remaining in full-time employment. This gave me the opportunity to grow my confidence and my client’s confidence to spread the word of my work. A lot of my initial work has come via word of mouth. This also gave me time to build a basic website and to advertise locally.
In three words, describe your experience at The National Design Academy?
Exceptional, Educational, Supportive
You’ve recently employed your first employee, congratulations! How do you feel about this?
This was a big step, but to grow a business you have to expand and take measured risks. I was apprehensive on two accounts. Firstly to make sure the quality of my product was maintained and that I could work with a new employee. I needed to take on an employee as my work load was increasing. I still needed time to increase my client base and advertise the company to continue its growth.
With the launch of a brand new website and a growing team, things are looking great, but what does the future hold for Ecclesbourne Interiors?
Ecclesbourne Interiors needs to continue to build its reputation to generate new clients. I have improved the website and launched two new product lines, namely ‘photo cushions’ and an online store for home finishings. I am also promoting the business at local trade shows and other functions. However, all the time contacts and quality of the service and the product remain key to bringing in future business.
For further information on studying at the National Design Academy, please browse their website; www.nda.ac.uk