How did your company start; what was the aim when it was launched? What was the response?
We're passionate about lampshade making because we have been involved in the industry for such a long time — our business was founded in 1982 in Hackney, East London, as Martin Dannell & Co Ltd. The Company manufactured a broad range of lampshade making products and provided many services for the vibrant manufacturers who used to supply the retailers back in the day. We now operate from a 20,000 sq ft factory in Essex and employ about 30 dedicated staff, most of whom have been with the company for decades. We entered into the craft market 10 years ago by designing a ground-breaking range of professional kits to promote lampshade making as a craft, and we have gone on to establish our brands and grow the business.
How often do you launch new lines and what are your best-selling designs?
We continually offer new products to our customers throughout the year: from our Needcraft® range, the 30cm Professional Lampshade Making Kit is our most popular product as every household will use this size either as a pendant or table lamp. The size is also the most popular product for lampshade making workshops.
Our manufacturing packs are also very successful as many of our customers design and make their own bespoke products (lampshades, bins, clocks and lanterns) using their fabric collections, and they sell them as retail products or through the online shopping platforms for handmade products like Etsy, Folksy and Not On The High Street.
How have you found life in lockdown; how are you planning for the future of your business?
At the beginning of this year we exhibited at various tradeshows and focused on promoting our workshop packs because retailers viewed in-store events as key to driving footfall and increasing sales, our workshop packs were fantastic for hosting 'Create & Make' in-store events. With the incredible changes that have happened to our world in just six weeks, retail stores closing and no longer being able to get groups together, we're now focusing on promoting virtual workshops and getting people together to make our products in their homes via Zoom, Facebook and YouTube Live and we've had a great response.